How to Break a Padlock or Unlock a Padlock Without a Key

Chuck Williams

January 20, 2023

A close-up image of a broken padlock. The padlock, clearly illustrating why a skilled locksmith is essential, is made of brass with a silver shackle, which is bent and snapped on one side, rendering it non-functional. The background is out of focus, making the padlock the focal point of the image.

Troubled with a stuck combination padlock or keyed padlock that looks direly unlikely to open? It is a frustrating and distressing situation to be unable to access the locked property. Now that you are in this situation, you may be wondering how to break a padlock or how to unlock a padlock without a key?

Fortunately, there are methods that can help you regain access to your valuables in no time! However, obviously this will require skills and know what you are doing. Additionally, you have to practice caution if you are going to take the matter into your hands

Never try any DIY method without the proper protective equipment and if you are unsure what you are doing. Otherwise, the best case scenario would be that you end up wasting your time or in worst case scenario, you can get yourself hurt.

A better solution is to call a locksmith. Professional locksmiths are adept at swiftly and efficiently resolving lockouts with any kind of locks, including padlocks. They also generally do it through the methods we go over in this article.


A hammer can be tapped on the padlock in order to disengage the pins. Doing so will unlock the padlock. With this technique, you may even be able to reuse the padlock, eliminating the need to buy a replacement.

Before tapping the padlock with a hammer, there needs to be some tension between the shackles and the lock body. In order to do that, the body is held down with two fingers put between the shackle loop. And then the shackles are pulled away from the body with force.

While the shackles are pulled through fingers, the hammer blows can be landed on the area where the shackles are fixed onto the body. The blows should utilize a medium amount of strength, and be swift and short. This can eventually cause the pins to loosen up and let the padlock open.

However, this attempt might not work on all padlocks, especially the new ones. This is because certain padlocks are built to withstand such techniques of compromising the lock. Additionally, a lot of caution needs to be taken when trying this method and protective gloves should be worn.

Compressed Air

You learned how to unlock a padlock without a key and without breaking it with a hammer. But how to break a padlock with a hammer, if just hammering the padlock does not do the work?

In order to do that, the first step is to weaken the lock and make it prone to break with the hammer blows. In order to do that, one method is to freeze the padlock. You read that right, freeze it! It is recommended to use compressed air to freeze the lock.

The compressed air can be sprayed into the area where both of the shackle sides meet the body. Both ends should be sprayed for about 30 seconds. Then, once the lock color changes to a lighter shade, each side can be hit with a hammer. As the frozen lock should now be weakened enough, just landing a few blows will help gradually break it into pieces and free the latch grip.

As the chemical is dangerous, it is crucial to be careful. Wearing protective gloves to keep the hands safe is a must.

Two Wrenches 

A pair of wrenches is another way to break the padlock shackle. It is recommended to use wrenches with a large head, so that they can exert high force as this method makes use of plenty of strength and effort.

Each wrench is placed upon each side of the shackles in the middle. Then the wrenches are brought together so that their heads meet each other. Both wrenches should be around the same size and level. With that done, the wrenches can be used to begin exerting force to squeeze both sides of the shackles together.

Eventually, the shackle may crack in the middle. At that point, it may be possible to take it all apart with hands. But if that does not work, the shackles can be hit with a hammer to break them for good.


Shimming is a good solution for anyone looking into how to unlock a padlock without a key. A shim is a tool specifically designed to compromise the padlocks. Made of metal, the shims are small and have thin sides and a thick curved middle. Locksmiths use professionally made shims, but a shim can be even made out of a soda can.

A single—lock padlock would require one shim, while a double—lock padlock would require two shims to engage each shackle. The shim is wrapped around the shackle and slid into the gap where the shackle meets the body. Then it is maneuvered to slide up and down until the padlock gets unlocked. 

However, this method might not work on all padlocks, especially not easily. For example, padlocks that are high—security locks are built to resist the shimming technique.

A padlock shackle getting cut by a bolt cutter

Bolt Cutter

If you are wondering how to break padlock with the easiest way, then a bolt cutter is the answer. A bolt cutter has two long handles, each with a small blade. It is optimal for cutting through the shackles, bolts, chains, etc. As such, it is a swift and easy way to cut locks.

The shears of the bolt cutter are used to grip on the shackle. Then force is exerted upon the shackle by squeezing the bolt cutter handle until the shackle gets cut.

A professional locksmith is likely to utilize this method to open a padlock, if opening a lock is impossible or not worth it.

Lost the Key or Padlock Is Malfunctioning? Call Our Locksmiths to Break a Padlock or Open a Lock

Cutting the shackles with a bolt cutter, freezing the lock with canned air and squeezing the shackles together with a pair of wrenches are all good ways to break a lock. If you would prefer the padlock to be reusable, then shimming or hammering the lock can open the lock without damaging it. However, all these techniques require skills and the right tools on hand, which may be hard for a layperson to manage.

A locksmith can do it much faster and efficiently, as they are experienced at swiftly opening all types of locks. Get in touch with our locksmiths who can break a padlock or open a padlock without damaging it for you in no time!

Our Aurora locksmiths have over 5 years of experience with resolving all kinds of locking issues swiftly and efficiently. You can put trust in us to resolve your trouble with a stuck padlock in no time!

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.