key extractor

What Is A Key Extractor And How Does It Work?

A key extractor is a specialized tool used to remove broken or stuck keys from locks.  It does not matter whether it’s a door lock, padlock, or even a car ignition since hiring a locksmith can solve this problem with ease by the use of key extractors. This instrument entails a thin flat metal piece that has an end bent in the shape of a hook which once put into the lock will clutch onto the broken key while the extractors are gently pulled or wiggled to facilitate its removal.

Key extractors operate on the leverage principle where one end of the device hooks onto sharp parts of a broken key. The application of pressure on this extractor makes its hook tighten against the key hence enabling locksmiths to slowly move and pull out any separated piece. When dealing with such cases, it requires that utmost accuracy be observed so as not to damage other sections of the lock housing.

In this article, you might expect the following;

  • Types of Key Extractors
  • Benefits of Using A Key Extractor
  • How Professional Locksmiths Use Key Extractors
  • Key Extractor Tools and Equipment
  • Common Circumstances Where Key Extractors Are Used
  • Tips For Using A Key Extractor
  • Choosing the Right Key Extractor For Your Needs

Different Types of Key Extractors

There are several different types of key extractors designed for various locks and related key issues:

Slide Hammer Extractor

A handle is connected to this type of extractor through which it slides out. The tool commonly serves as an aid in getting keys out from car ignitions or even door locks. To get rid of broken keys, one has to slide them back and forth.

Hook Extractor

This extractor type bears a resemblance to what its name suggests –which is a hook. It is majorly employed when removing stuck keys due to its capability to hold on to broken parts via their jagged edges.

Spiral Extractor

Its end looks like a circular staircase which can get deep inside locking devices to as out remnants that have stuck there. The shape adopted permits secure handling thus no damages occur during extraction.

Benefits Of Using A Key Extractor

Key extraction if done professionally comes with numerous advantages, particularly for local locksmiths who know what they mean in their job descriptions which include:

Time and Cost Efficiency

For both locksmiths and their customers, key extractors aid in the quick removal of broken keys thereby saving time and costs that could be incurred during the replacement of locks.


Different types of key extractors are available in the markets with each category having its shape and size. In turn, this factor makes it possible for locksmiths to deal with diverse situations regarding key extractions.


Only if you are proficient enough in doing so, otherwise using a key extractor can lead to no harm caused to the lock despite being forced out. This is crucial when you have highly secure locks or delicate mechanisms that enable easy opening when the need arises.

How Professional Locksmiths Use Key Extractors

Locksmith professionals acquire the right skills necessary for using key extractors effectively. The skills they gain enable them to handle different types of locks and scenarios relating to the extraction of keys. Here is a step-by-step procedure followed by locksmiths while utilizing key extractors:

  • Assessment: First, a locksmith looks at what he got before determining whether it’s the lock type as well as its corresponding key.
  • Lubrication: Where necessary, some oiling may be done to let go of some tension from the lock making removing keys easier.
  • Insertion: The hook or spiral end at one tip should be positioned properly once it has been put inside such a locker.
  • Extraction: Slowly and carefully the local guy will press hard on unlock trying not to damage its parts then cops a piece out from it.
  • Verification: If you extract the key, confirm that the lock is still operational – the locksmith does a verification. In case any damage is detected, you may need to repair or replace it.

Key Extraction Tools and Equipment

Different tools and equipment are used by locksmiths for effective key extraction. The following are some of the essential items in a locksmith’s toolkit:

  • Key Extractor Set: With various shapes and sizes these extractors will come in handy in different key retrieval situations.
  • Lubricants: To ease the removal of keys, lubricants are applied to locks to reduce friction.
  • Lockpicking Tool Kit: Sometimes locksmiths have to use lock-picking techniques with their key extractors as an alternative way of gaining access.
  • Pliers and Tweezers: These small devices handle tiny parts and pull out broken keys from inside extractors.

Common Circumstances Where Key Extractors Are Used

For various circumstances related to locks, key extractors play a vital role. Here are a few examples of these situations:

  • Broken Keys: A key extractor can be used to safely remove fragments stuck within the lock without causing any harm to it when removing broken pieces that may be damaged due to sticking in a particular position.
  • Jammed Locks: A jammed lock that results from foreign substances including debris can be unstuck with the aid of a key extractor hence bringing back its functionality.
  • Lost Keys: A lost key may require one to use a fragment remover which will take away the rest shreds from within the lock to give room for another original one being made in case necessary.

Tips For Using A Key Extractor Effectively

Though this process requires a high degree of accuracy, patience is crucial as it helps mitigate further loss. Below are tips that will guide you through successful retrieval operations:

  • Patience is Key: Key extraction can be a delicate process. Take your time and avoid rushing to prevent any further damage to the lock.
  • Use Lubricant: Applying a small amount of lubricant into your keyhole can enable a smooth extraction process so that no damage is caused to it.
  • Ensure Proper Technique: Familiarize yourself with the one that you own and practice on each of its applicable locks.

Choosing the Right Key Extractor for Your Needs

When choosing a suitable key extractor, it is important to consider the types of locks you work with and your level of expertise. These are some factors which should be considered:

  • Nature of Locks: Different key extractors go with different locks, therefore, always ensure that the type you choose is compatible with the most common ones around you.
  • Experience: Beginners should start with simple extractors as they progress to more advanced extractors for better results.
  • Quality and Durability: The quality ones will be best since they will not disappoint due to frequent use or low performance among other things.


Key extractors are essential tools for both professional locksmiths and ordinary individuals who encounter difficulty in opening locks. They help save time, money, and nerves by removing broken keys or keys that get stuck inside a lock. If you have found yourself locked out or if you need to open a lock for some other reason, then understanding how key extractors function and their various applications can assist during such situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can only professionals use this tool called ‘key extractor’?

No, anyone can use key extractors if they want to remove a broken or stuck key from a lock. In addition, professional locksmiths possess the desired skills for more difficult scenarios involving the extraction of keys.

2. Can key extractors spoil locks?

Key extractors shouldn’t damage the lock if used correctly. Nonetheless, it’s important to use proper techniques and avoid too much force that may result in damage.

3. How much is a key extractor?

The cost of key extractors depends on the brand, quality, and complicacy of the tool itself. Basic ones go for relatively small amounts while their advanced counterparts could be quite expensive.

4. Do all types of locks require key extractors?

Key extractors are available in different sizes and shapes that suit various kinds of locks. Nevertheless, make sure that you get one which compatible with the particular type of lock you are working on.

5. Can I pick a lock with a key extractor?

Key extractors are not meant for picking locks; instead, they are solely designed to help remove snapped or jammed keys from them: if you must pick a lock it would be better to use picks specifically made for picking locks.

Table of Contents

Skip to content