Keys are typically small pieces of brass fashioned from an alloy of zinc and copper. While they can be expected to last for many years, overuse or misuse can impact a key’s functionality.
When a key breaks, you can always use the duplicate. However, if your key splits into two while inside the lock, you will have to get one of the most common locksmith services. In the locksmithing world, this service is called extraction.
What Is Key Extraction?
This refers to the method of extracting or removing a key that broke into two pieces with one of them getting stuck inside the lock, including those found in automobiles. When doing the extraction, the aim is to take out the stuck portion of the key without damaging the lock. This way, you can still use it after the broken key part has been successfully removed.
Before a locksmith begins to extract the broken key from the lock, he will first check if the plug of your lock is rotated beyond the key pull position. This refers to the location of the stuck key from where it can still be removed. The key could be trapped completely if the plug of the lock is no longer oriented in the key pull position. To get to this position, the plug will have to be rotated.
Common Key Extraction Tools
To extract a broken key from its stuck position, locksmiths normally use various extraction tools which can include the following:
The fine-pointed head type is often used in many extraction jobs. Along with a pair of scissors, tweezers can be used to grab the stuck portion of the key assuming there is enough portion that the tweezers can hold on to.
2. Spiral Extractors
These are popular extraction tools known for their wire thickness of.040 inches and a set of spiral teeth running across its entire length. When used to take out a broken key, the spiral extractor is inserted between the plug and the key. Once in place, a locksmith will turn the extractor clockwise before pressing this in. As the key gets fed into the plug, the spiral groves of the extractor will grasp it.
The problem with spiral extractors is their tensile force which can become too strong if too much of the key is fed into the plug. If this happens, the extractor could burst and the extraction work won’t be completed.
Nevertheless, the spiral design of this broken key extraction tool is perfect in cases where you have to slide itl into the damaged key. Its spiral teeth usually allow this extractor to sink into the fragments of the broken key, enabling the latter to slide out of your lock quickly.
3. Saw-Tooth Extractors
These are extraction tools that typically have a .022-.025 inches thick measurement. Saw-tooth extractors contain multiple teeth that resemble the blades of a saw which grab the key and get it out of the lock.
4. Hook Extractors
These come in many different types, although each one is known for having a pointed hook that grasps the broken key and removes it. All hook extractors also have the same
size, width, and height. The only difference is in the number of teeth and in the shape of the hook.
The standard hook extractor may seem primitive compared to other extraction tools. Nevertheless, it is quite affordable and can be used alongside other tools.
5. Interchangeable Extractors
These broken key extraction tools are more expensive when compared to others. In return, they offer quality and reliability, qualities which are rare given that most key extractor tools are often delicate and can snap easily.
Interchangeable extractors come in a set of four tools which normally include one saw blade and three spiral picks.
6. Ultra-Thin Extractors
These are whip-thin key extractors which are rated highly. Locksmiths often use them in emergency locksmith services where difficult keys are involved. Ultra-thin extractors are also affordable which means that homeowners can purchase them as an addition to their lock-picking toolboxes.
These are also common extractor tools which work well in rooms that have wide keyways. This particular design can be found in many American homes.
Harpoons are small and sharp and can be inserted into a given keyway. Its entry will push all the pins of the lock upwards. At this point, a locksmith will get hold of a pair of prongs to hold the broken key piece and pull it out.
8. Super Glue
Some locksmiths resort to using glue when all efforts to extract a broken key have failed. This will involve pouring a small amount of super glue over your lock cylinder and pulling it out forcefully. This should give you easier access to the key so you can get it out.
The method is risky since it could mean destroying the lock cylinder. This also means additional work for your locksmith as he will have to create a new lock for you.
Most homeowners are not likely to have any lock-picking tools around, but this does not mean that they should not get at least one of them. An extractor tool can prove to be handy, especially in an emergency where no locksmith is immediately available. It’s also much better to extract a key than to disassemble a door lock.
Key extractors can be likened to screwdrivers. They are affordable and can be purchased in sets at a local hardware store. For more sophisticated lock and key issues, however, it’s still best to get professional locksmith services.
Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths can help you get out of your broken key problems.
If you’re facing a stuck key problem, let Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths offer its expertise to help you out. Our locksmith in Lakewood, CO, can guarantee you a secured and successful extraction process.
We also provide a range of locksmith services that you may want to keep in mind since you might need them in the future. Call us today and we’ll gladly give you the details.