How to unlock a padlock without a key? (Storage lock)

Uhaul or any other public storage facility is tremendously popular among Americans. Keeping personal belongings for the long term in public storage is a great option for a truly affordable price. We all know that besides local CCTV, every big or small storage unit still requires security measures such as a padlock or Mortise cylinder. There are times when we lose a tiny key that unlocks the lock to the storage, guess why? Because we didn’t use it for many years and God knows where that key is.

Storage facilities mainly have 2 types of locks – padlocks and mortise cylinders. Both of them can be drilled using titanium drill bits, while most of the time padlock requires to be cut using a cordless Dremel with metal disks. The main reason the padlock needs to be cut is that the cylinder (gold color) is too small and hard to reach for drilling procedures. In case you still wonder, the Bolt Cutter will not be able to cut a padlock like in movies.

If you decided to go forward without a professional locksmith (which is totally doable for a storage lock cut scenario) we will go over and explain how it can be done efficiently and cheaply. Moreover, from time to time you might see round shape lock (mortise), not a handing padlock as in the picture above. For that mortise-style locks, you will have to purchase an electric drill with metal cutting drill bits.

Step by step on how to drill a padlock or mortise storage lock

  • Buy a Dremel with Dremel disks

If you are in a rush, you can stop by any local home depot or lowes and ask associates to navigate for the right Dremel with the right size disks. Some Dremel already includes several types of disks including a metal disk. If you have plenty of time before destroying the padlock, then you can order it on amazon. That way you can read reviews, in some cases get %5 cashback and/or discounts.

Dremel with various disks as a set
  • Cut the “neck”

There is a bridge that connects both sides (in the middle, below). That neck is keeping the lock in place and won’t unlock the storage gate. When the key turns the cylinder bridge is disappearing all the way inside so that lock can be released and the gate unlocked. So you should cut the lock either on the left or right end of that “bridge”. Then finally apply a flathead screwdriver to push the already cut “bridge inside its housing.

Padlock Removal
  • Drill the cylinder

Every storage facility might have different gates for every unit. Sometimes you might see a lock that is inside a gate, not a hanging padlock. In that case, you will need to drill through the lock and destroy the pins that are keeping the lock locked. You can purchase the drill online, including drill bits. There are many brands on the market, however, we believe Bosch and Dewalt are the best.

Drilling the cylinder must be performed in a very precise manner, otherwise, you face a risk of getting stuck for hours and eventually calling a locksmith that might charge you extra fees for the mess you did. Below is a picture that demonstrates where exactly you need to drill. The main objective is to remove pins that block cylinder rotation (as the key would allow doing so).


I am Rauan, I have over 4 years of experience as a locksmith tech and then as the owner of my own company. I live in Houston, TX, and love to provide valuable insights related to locks. Enjoy reading

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