DIY Rekey Locks: Rekey Standard Locks Yourself

If you’re looking to save some money and learn a valuable skill, rekeying your own locks, or “DIY Rekey Locks”, can be a great option. With a few simple tools and some basic knowledge, you can easily rekey the locks on your home without the help of a locksmith. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to rekey a lock cylinder and keep your home secure.

We don’t recommend rekeying your own commercial locks because of the costly hardware and technical know-how to identify and remove most locks properly. Commercial hardware is usually more complex and is not always a Schlage variant. A professional locksmith will carry most commercial hardware replacement parts with them so they can help you no matter what is currently on the doors. In addition, they are prepared to work on any door while being insured doing so. This is important because of how quickly the bill will rise when a mistake is made in a commercial setting.
If you are in the Colorado Springs area, call Affordable Professional Locksmith to help you get your buildings rekeyed and working like new.

We take pride in what we do, providing you with security and peace of mind. We don’t mind providing information on rekeying locks to the public. We believe in the greater good, and if you’re handy enough to take on the task, we think you should have instructions from someone who deals with keys day in and day out.

Also if you are asking if The Home Depot rekey locks, they will if that you purchase at their store that comes with a working key. If you plan on rekeying hardware that’s already on your home, you can continue on.

Gather the necessary tools and supplies.

Before you begin rekeying your lock, you’ll need to gather a few tools and supplies. These include a key decoder, a plug follower, a pinning kit, a set of tweezers, and a new set of pins. You can purchase these items at most hardware stores or online. Once you have everything you need, you’re ready to begin the rekeying process.

You don’t need a full-on expensive pin kit to rekey your own locks. We highly recommend the pre-made pinning sets from Schlage and Kwikset, respectively. They include 2 new keys, the plug follower, and a set of color-coded pins specifically for the packed key. This ensures your not spending more money on pins and things you will never use again.

Remove the lock from the door.

The first step in rekeying a lock is to remove it from the door. This will make it easier to work on and allow you to access the lock cylinder. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the faceplate of the lock and then pull the lock out of the door. Be sure to keep all the screws and parts in a safe place so you don’t lose them.

Disassemble the lock cylinder.

Once you have removed the lock from the door, you can begin to disassemble the lock cylinder.

For Schlage deadbolts, you will need a small pin to press in the locking pin while rotating the back end of the cylinder counterclockwise. Be sure to dump out the spring from the same hole, to make sure you don’t lose it.
For Schlage handles and Kwikset deadbolts, you will need a small tool to remove the C-shaped clip holding the cylinder in place.
Kwikset handles however, (not levers), a special Kwikset tool is required to remove the tailpiece and pop the plug out of the front.

Remove the old pins and replace them with new ones.

After the tail is removed, you will need to insert your working key and rotate about 5 degrees only, then use a plug follower to carefully push the cylinder plug out of the cylinder housing. This will allow you to access the pins inside the cylinder.

This photo by How Stuff Works illustrates how the pin sizes correlate to the key cuts:

instructive photo of pin depths

The next step in rekeying a lock without a locksmith is to remove the old pins and replace them with new ones. This is where you will need your new key. Insert the key into the lock and turn it to the right position. Use a pinning tray to hold the pins in place while you remove them from the cylinder. Please take note of the length of each pin as you remove them, as this will help you determine the correct order for the new pins. Once you have removed all the old pins, insert the new pins in the correct order according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you have replaced the pins, check and see that they are all flush when the key is inserted. Slide the lock cylinder back through the plug, test for normal operation, and reassemble the lock cylinder.

rekey locks to be flush

When you’re looking for how to rekey a lock to match existing key, you will need to utilize a key gauge, and at the bare minimum buy a branded pin set specifically for your manufacturer of hardware.

It is a little different when you need to know how to rekey a lock without the original key (or any working key). In simple terms, this lock has to be picked. This is usually when it’s time to call the professionals instead of spending more time on it. Alternatively, if cost isn’t an issue, you can run to the local hardware store and get a replacement and just rekey that! (We are experienced in making any keys from scratch, we have a post about it regarding automotive keys. Additionally, we do household keys, boats, motorcycles, RVs, and filing cabinets.)

Reassemble the lock cylinder and test the new key.

It’s time to reassemble the lock cylinder. Insert the cylinder back into the lock and use the retaining clip to secure it. Make sure you reassemble the lock exactly as you took it apart. If you forget this clip, the next time you take the key out, everything is coming with it and you might need help from a professional to unlock the door and or repair the lock.
If it works, make sure it works very smoothly and the lock functions properly. If the key doesn’t turn or the lock is still not working, you may need to adjust the pins or seek the help of a professional locksmith. If this is the case, try wiggling it to see if you can get the key to turn, insert the follower again, and try to see if there is any noticeable difference in height on any of the positions while the key is inserted.

With a little practice and patience, rekeying your own locks can save you time and money in the long run.

Kwikset Smartkey Cylinders

These are a special type of lock cylinder, very unlike the ones above. It was made by Kwikset so it can be rekeyed easily by the end-user without dissembling.
The easy way to identify these locks is the smart line next to where you insert the key, like seen below. This is the change chamber on the lock, and if you have a working key, you can rekey it while it’s on the door!

kwikset smartkey reset slot

To rekey these locks, it’s very simple.

  • Insert the current working key, and turn 90 degrees.
  • Insert the change key learning tool into the hole until you hear a slight click.
  • Remove the change key learning tool and remove the key.
  • Insert the new key you work like to work on the lock, taking care that the key is cut to factory specs and inserted all the way.
  • Turn the key 180 degrees, and then back to neutral.
  • Remove the key.

That’s all! If you don’t have a working key for one of these SmartKey cylinders, you should call a trustworthy locksmith who can dissemble the lock and reset the drivers by hand. This takes incredible skill and knowledge of how these locks work. Immediately if you have never worked on one, you will find out very quickly it’s unlike your pin tumbler locks.

If you prefer not to rekey these locks yourself, you could search for “rekey locks near me”, or you can trust the pros at Affordable Professional Locksmith in Colorado Springs. We have been providing top-notch service to our community for years. We can help you rekey your locks, and explain the process if you are interested enough to listen.

Local businesses and national chains call us regularly to rekey their high-security locks, or interchangeable-cores, and repair the hardware all with one visit. We are able to provide same-day service, warranty all of our work, and hand you your keys with a smile. All this for the most affordable rates in Colorado Springs.

When your thinking of rekeying your locks due to an eviction taking place in the future, we recommend reading our post here to see all the additional benefits hiring a professional locksmith will give you. The 4 Roles of an Eviction Locksmith

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