Rekeying Home Locks Yourself





Introduction: Rekeying Home Locks Yourself

About: I am a doer of all things, but a master of none. I have passion for whatever I do. No matter how bad it looks in the end. I am an a mechanical/software engineer by discipline and have really seen that passi...


I have lived in my current house for over 14 years with the existing locks never requiring to be changed. As of late they are mechanically failing with increased internal friction making it hard to open them. Ultimately they needed to be replaced. This Instructable will cover the rekeying of 2 series of Schlage residential locks(A dead bolt and a simple keyed lock).

Why am I creating this Instructable:

I chose to create this Instructable as I work full time as an mechanical/software engineer and the 1 trustworthy locksmith in my area is retiring and only works 3 hours per day! Lastly, I didn't want the hassle of scheduling around them or the risk or a shady locksmith PLUS just taking my time off from work and paying someone else to do something that I know I could figure out.

If this thing turns out well because of the type of locks chosen, I will also create 2 additional Instructables showing:

My goals for this Instructable:

I had a need and I have seen so many Instructables out there that "filled in the gaps" for me that I thought I would give back based on my situation at hand. This is also my first Instructable to create so I wanted to "give it a go". As an engineer at heart, I am a doer. I want to learn, do and teach where I can. I like a puzzle and this project is about all of those rolled into one(mechanical, software, systems engineering). I found many piece parts of this series of locks all over the internet so I wanted to give a visual representation of what is required to do this in 1 nice visual setting. It may flop or really come off nice. Either way I hope you enjoy what you read or at least chuckle at my noobish attempt of an Instructable :D

I hope that you the reader find this instructable understandable and though you may not use this series of lock, the principles are all the same across lock families. Perhaps this will give you the idea to do it yourself and not spend the money hiring a professional and paying the $100 per 30 minutes of work!

Step 1: Gathering Together Your Tool List

The first step to anything successful in life is to plan things out by getting your supplies together. This applies whether you are going on a camping trip and you forgot to check to see if you had matches, or going to work and didn't go through your normal morning checklist and forgot your badge or key. I can not tell you the amount of added frustration that occurs when I am going back and forth looking for a specific tool to accomplish a job. This project is no different, in fact because we will be dealing with smaller components(springs, pins , etc), its all the more reason to plan how you will deal with these components while you work on each lock.

For my project, I chose to use a new set of Z wave compatible devices because frankly I wanted to setup my own home automation/security system well and frankly to play with the new technology as well. I felt that the Schlage lock series chosen are secure first and foremost, are visually appealing for the house, technologically capable and ease of use for my family will work out. Even if I cant get the technology portion setup these are Grade 1 residential locks and so that is enough to make me pay more for them since this is for protecting my family.

For this endeavor, My list includes the following items

Step 2: Select Your "Primary Key"

Select a key that you will use for all of your locks and set it aside as you will need it for every single lock you re-key to.

NOTE: My deadbolts came with only 1 key each and my keyed locks came with 2. I didn't think about it until I was through my first lock but I had chosen my deadbolt key. There is nothing wrong in doing this UNLESS you lose it after you have completed a handful of locks.(Thankfully I didn't.) But if you do, then it gets you will have to either call out that locksmith that you didn't want to in the first place or drill out your newly installed locks either way more $$$ out of pocket.

So this being understood, I recommend using a key that you have multiples of because frankly that's 1 less key you have to have made and you reduce your risk of messing something up by losing a VERY important piece of the puzzle. Set one aside and use the other for your re-keying. I even recommend not using this master key in the event you need another one cut years down the road.

Now as I stated, I had a total of 5 locks to deal with which meant I would be swimming in a total of 7 keys. So that I didn't get it confused with all of the others I marked it with Duct tape. (Thanks to the Duct tape craze as of recent as I have plenty to steal from my daughters craft pile!).

Notice that on each key there is a 5 digit code. This code is very important as it matches the pins that you will use when replacing the ones inside of tumbler. Each one of the pins vary in length starting from a "3" to a "9". There is nothing wrong with reusing pins from your locks if they are the same numbers. Either way THIS is where the kit comes in handy.

Step 3: Select a Simple Keyed Lock

Before you begin working on your deadbolts, I recommend starting on a simple keyed lock first so that you can begin to understand the principles since primarily all residential locks are based off of similar designs.(Just think that 50 years ago the need for residential locks was very minimal. My how we have fallen as a society! Sorry.....political moment over..... :D )

Between a deadbolt and a simple keyed lock, in all honesty, for me, it was much more complex for me to do the keyed lock than the deadbolt. This was because that in order to get to the tumbler, it had to be installed in the door before I could remove the the tumbler to get to those pins that needed changing. It was a frigid, windy, wet day that day I had the chance to tackle this project which meant an open door while I accomplished the lock. Once I was able to extract the tumbler cylinder then it was a piece of cake.

  1. From the outside, Insert the existing Key into the door.
  2. Turn the Key 90 degrees clockwise
  3. Depress the release pin shown below and pull the cap off
  4. Remove the key from the tumbler
  5. Push the tumbler into the cap for extraction
  6. Grab your provided multi tool(Sheetmetal part)
  7. Push the C Clamp off(Be careful not to push it all of the way as it will shoot across the room!)
  8. Slide the Plastic pin replacement tool into the unit while the tumbler and pins slide out the other side
  9. Remove pins
  10. Place Master Key into the cylinder
  11. Match pins per the 5 digit code to the key(when the key is fully inserted the tops of the pins should be flat)
  12. Place everything back in in reverse order.
  13. And Whalaa!
  14. Repeat on other locks.

Step 4: Select a Keyed Deadbolt

I eluded to in the previous step that the simple keyed lock was actually more complex(for me anyway) to accomplish than the deadbolt. This was because the keyed lock had to be installed in the door before I could rekey it. The deadbolt was not as complex as the tumbler cylinder was completely accessible when it was "in halves" and this allowed me to access it without wasting time installing the unit, check fitting the frame and latch, etc. If I would have known this weeks ago I would have already completed those locks BUT then again that's part of the learning process. I am not a locksmith but from my engineering background, I can assume this complex design is because of the security/anti tampering/etc...

  1. To remove the tumbler assembly, take the keypad side of the lock and turn face down so you are looking into the back of it.
  2. There are 2 screws shown that keep the cylinder from falling out. Remove the 2 screws and the tumbler will slide out relatively easily and then easily separate.
  3. From here take this and depress the pin(using the pin assist tool) while you unscrew the nut by hand.
  4. Then remove the nut and bar from the pin sleeve.
  5. Now use the Pin assist tool as we did with the simple keyed lock and slide it into place to keep pressure on the internal springs so that we can access the pins for replacement.(Be careful, because of the shape and because I wasn't paying attention, I destroyed a small spring internally that I had to replace.)
  6. Replace the pins with the same set you are using in your house
  7. Re-assemble in reverse
  8. Install in your door
  9. And Whalaa!
  10. Repeat on other Deadbolts.

A note about the tools provided:
THEY have a purpose! If you don't use them properly, you will break and bend things (like the small spring I mentioned) and then have/get to put in a replacement spring by hand. Glad I bought the kit and the tweezer set!

Step 5: The Most Improtant Step!

If you are married like myself or even in a relationship of any kind, the most important part is.......

CLEANUP! If you are like me, by this time I am usually tired from the project and the next thing that happens is relaxing on the computer, watching some TV, or grabbing something to eat, or you might be one to put back a few to relish in your success. Either way each of these "traps" leads into hostile territory even after you spent a few hours fixing something for everyone's safety and mutual benefit...

Either way, to impress your significant other and/or just to abate your ears from the "Are you going to clean this up?" statements or the "Meh" sentiments....cleanup your mess :D.

I hope that this little write up will keep you from spending that $50-$100 on something that was really simple to accomplish or if you are even on the fence....go for it.. I intend to show you how to pair this series of locks to an open source Z-wave home automation server. in the next writeup if this is well received. It was fun to do and a first for me!

Kind Regards



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    29 Discussions


    Sorry for not replying been busy and I just thought Id lock into instructables on a roadtrip while I shared something else I made. Thanks for the reply! You probably could do this frontwards and backwards and with eyes closed since you make a business out of this.

    I bought another set for my new house but thought Id cut a corner and use one I saw as cheaper/on clearance....only to find out it didn't come with the key(and I evidently didn't read the writeup) and now I am having to pick the lock before I can rekey the lock!

    Thanks for the kudos and if this saves you time on your stuff point people to it!

    hope this helps. ..ironically we are in the process of moving and I am in the process of doing this again for the newer locks for the new house as well....same manufacturer but a different look and feel....

    re keying locks is a pppaaaiiinnn. I bought a motorcycle with no key had to rekey to fit my car key which strangely fit the ignition.

    Your desire is quite reasonable as the outer look of a door
    or security system also matters. But the most important factor is that a good
    looking lock or security system is how much effective or secure. You are
    experienced so you may determine the same from the design or inner structure
    image. Beside all these I can recommend you the name of Locksmith Plantation
    Company who has assisted me with a advanced security system with better look.
    On the basis of your queries you can also analyze the different designs and
    structures with a single link.

    Be aware that if you want to spend less (depending on how many cylinders you have) you can simply take the locks apart and bring just the cylinders to a locksmith who will rekey them for maybe $10-15 each. Also be aware that many big box stores sell locks keyed alike in groups. This means that someone who buys locks from the same place will likely use the same key but not know it.

    One of the reasons you had to have the whole lock in the door is that you are missing some tools to do the lock pin change on the desk. I have had to rebuild those to fit peoples keys before they take the lock home (Canadain Tire used to have that service and some stores still do for that brand and other brands as well, they do all have a different set up and removal of the tumblers, pins, knobs etc), and they never had to be in the door! There are some release tools for the knob to get to the tumbler, and then a tumbler release tool. Some of these are nylon tools and a 'pin holder' etc. Not having a full set of tools will make the job much harder than it has to be. Just a tip for next time! I see you have the pins, but not all the right tools. Where did you get the pin set? Usually, those are not available to regular public, so that can be a drawback too. Darn!



    4 replies


    Good to know! That goes to show that even though I did it, I didn't know what I was missing! :D. A little Youtube here, a little reading there and I still thought that I had it all.....but oh well they are working :)

    And in all honesty after I did the first type of both locks, it literally took me less than 10 minutes to remove, install, pull the tumblers, rekey and install for each other lock in the house.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I purchased the kit via Amazon

    Thanks for the comment!


    well, great job, and hey, barter indeed! You will be surprised what you can do for others, even if they can't pay you back, they will have your back one day! It all comes around.:) Locks are a great way to get started. Especially if you rent and can help out your landlord. If you build a good rep, you can help many out there, and may get stuff done for yourself at the same time. Like car fixes for example. Locks for oil changes:)LOL If we did more of that just think what we could keep out of landfills, and save on shops etc.
    Cheers and thanks for the extra tips...always good to share I say! Which is why i LOVE this site!:)
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Being a Dad is a great job when you are blessed with it...keep it up!

    You did wonderful! Just a tool tip is all:). I wish I could get ahold of those pins when I need them so great find!! Keep on lockin it up. It will pay off in the end too!! Lots of bucks when you save from a locksmith and a great trading item for favours too. Thanks for this reminder tip. A great refresher. And I now know how to do it with lock IN the door! Cool!! I always only comment to help not hinder:) only I will try to skip the rain and snow part. But hey that is usually when's is need fixing eh!?! Lol

    Yes mam it is.....I had a finite window of opportunity to accomplish this(since I work all the time and it just so happened to be a miserable blistery cold day). I had to play doctor/nurse for a sick child that day, so I decided to use that energy and have this completed before momma got home.

    I hadn't thought about bartering my services though! Great idea!

    This is an awesome Instructible - I was just about to buy a bunch of new locks as we moved into the house in May and I've yet to get all the doors on the same key. I used to rekey - reknob more like it - all the doors of my small apartment complex. What a job! Your directions and pictures were very helpful.

    1 reply


    I am glad that this was helpful to you. The beauty to these locks is that you can also program them in the event that you didn't want anything but the deadbolt making your life easier when tenets come and go. You hold the key and give them a digital code that they can set. My next instructable will show how easy that is to accomplish(the programming of each lock to have the same codes and pairing them up to my server so that you can monitor battery life, see who is coming and going and when, etc).

    Regarding an apartment complex....yeah there is most definitely some money to be saved there doing it all yourself! But for the house it only makes sense to have them keyed as well as "coded"....

    Thanks for commenting!

    You never explained how to master key a lock. The door knob does not have to be on the door to remove the cylinder. You do not have a master key, that's just a factory original key. Plastic pin replacement tool is a "follower". I am not giving you crap, I am helping with terminology. Great instructable, very informative!

    1 reply


    I didn't have the intent to master key the lock and yes I did use the term "Master" when I should have called it "Factory", "Primary", "Reference" key. I just wanted to isolate it from the rest. I don't see the need for "master keying" a home lock becuase the keys would more than likely be on the same ring so if I lost my factory key I'd lose my master key!

    But then again by day I am an mechanical/software engineer not a locksmith :) Thanks for the clarification on the terms, I had them in my mind as I was actually taking pictures and such but I did the project on 1 day and finished the "ible" 4-5 days later when my mind was consumed with something else. Sort of like that Homer Simpson syndrome where he can only remember so much!

    Thanks for the interaction though man! Have a good one!

    Get a part time job at an ace hardware. We do this all the time! Everyone is always so baffled at how it works.

    1 reply

    When/If I quit the corporate business world I might just do that :D

    I agree it was much easier than expected. If I a busy all the time engineer can squeeze in the time to accomplish this, then yes it was easy. That was part of the whole goal is to show people that with a little time they can become that much more independent on their own.

    That's probably my favorite part about this community is that most of us are like this.....we want to do something and we do it as long as we all have a little know-how and then willing to figure the rest out on the way. Well that and the willingness to share with others what we learned in hopes that they do this as well!

    Have you tried to change the battery box into a plug in wall wart? I find the batteries need replacing too frequently.


    1 reply


    By "wall wart", I assume that you mean a set of rechargeable batteries? And a wall charging unit?

    If so, I have read that about these locks but I know that the more friction you have against your bolt and your strike plate, the more that this will sap the battery. I also only have these setup as just a keypad entry deadbolt without the bells and flashy electrical doodads(due to my home internet provider in the sticks and my inability to easily monitor this via phone or the web). I also have not turned on the alarm or have it pinging back to home base or anything like that yet as I assume the 2 dogs that sleep between me and the entry point to the bedrooms are a good enough deterrent at this point. I do intend to turn these features on when I get my Raspberry Pi sharing out my mifi over my internal wired network. At that point in time I will also watch the "juice" more closely via its original design.

    But I have thought of using this very reason to step into renewable power such as solar or wind as when we build "House 2.0", a sizable portion of my houses electrical will be offset by renewable energy. I know its not always cost effective but who said *insert whatever independence you want* independence ever was? :D

    Have you had serious issue with this and these locks?