How to remove pins from a pin tumbler dead-bolt

When you purchase your lock, it will come packaged mostly disassembled, so a lot of the work has been done for you. But removing pins and reassembling the lock to a functional state is not easy. I'll guide you through the process to make it as easy as possible. Pretty much the only tool you'll need for this task is a small screw driver.

You're going to be working with several very small parts which you won't be able to replace without buying a new lock. Many of these parts are integral to the functionality of the lock, so a single lost peice could cost you the whole lock. I recommend you have a workspace at least 4'x4' which is completely clear of all other materials.

The first thing you need to do, is to remove everything around the lock housing. The following images show what you should now have. (The front and back of both a Kwikset and a Schlage are shown.)


Click on each image to see it full size

You may have heard the different parts called by different names, but I'll use the names specified above from here on.

The retaining pin is spring loaded. It's purpose is to preven the plug nut from tightening or loosening when the plug is turned. But we're going to need to remove the plug nut in order to remove the plug from the housing. So use a small screwdriver to push the retaining pin into the housing. This will allow the plug nut to move freeley. So turn the plug nut counter-clockwise until it comes off and set it aside. Then slowly release the preasure on the retaining pin (you don't want it to go flying accross the room). Now remove the retaining pin from the housing and set it aside. Now turn the lock upside down and let the retaining pin spring fall out into your hand, and set it aside.

Now for the hard part: it's time to remove the plug. You must be careful not to allow the springs and drivers pop out while you're removing the plug. Insert the key and verify the plug will turn with the key in it. With the key still inserted, while looking into the back of the lock, and with the spring and driver housing vertical, slowly pull the plug out until you can see the driver for pin five.

Since you're going to be removing pins two through five, let the springs and drivers for these pins to pop out. But put your finger over the plug hole as they pop out so they don't go flying accross the room. When you get to the driver for pin one, use your screw driver to hold it in place while you remove the plug from the housing. Now put your finger over pin one on the plug, and dump the pins two through five onto your work area.

Note, you cannot re-insert the plug into the housing in the locked possition. Instead, turn the plug 90 degrees and re-insert it. Allow the plug to push your screwdriver (which you are using to hold the spring and driver for pin one in place) out of the way. Push the plug all the way back into the housing and return the plug to the locked possition and remove the key (you'll need to hold the plug in place with your thumb so that it doesn't come out with the key).

Now, insert the retaining pin spring back into its hole, followed by the retaining pin. Put the plug nut back onto the plug (you should be able to give it a few turns before it's stopped by the retaining pin. Then push the retaining pin in with your screwdriver and tighten the plug nut until it contacts the housing. Release pressure on the retaining pin.

You're done! But take a few minutes to verify the lock still works properly. Insert the key, turn the plug, return the locked possition, and remove the key. If you have trouble pulling the key out, you didn't tighten the plug nut enough. Just tighten it a little more and everything should be OK.

To re-install a pin, you'll need tweezers to install the spring and pin driver. Also, remember to turn the plug 90 degrees before pulling it out (otherwise the spring and driver for pin one will enter the hole for pin two, which effectivly destroys your lock).

Odds are, you got your pins out of order when you dumpped them onto your work area. To determine which pin goes in which hole, insert the key into the plug while you have it removed. Then use trial and error puting different pins in different holes until you find one which aligns at the sheer line.

Good luck. It may sound difficult, but remember, the first time I did this, I didn't have any guidance. So it's nothing you can't figure out on your own.