4 Ways To Open Your Safe File Cabinet Without a Key

No one wishes to lose a key, but we cannot control all circumstances. If you are using a safe file lock, the chances are that you might forget or misplace the key somewhere. Does this mean you can't have access to the cabinet? Of course not! There are ways you can open a safe file cabinet without damaging the lock. 

This guide will help you find techniques to unlock a secure cabinet when the key is lost. All it requires are basic materials, creativity, and patience. You might not wish to lose access to your file cabinet. But it can happen anyway. So, stay active and pay attention to this detailed piece!

Ways to Open Your Safe File Cabinet without a Key

There are several ways to open safe cabinets without damaging the lock. Options that will result in lock damage should be your last option. Here are practical techniques to unlock your safe:

METHOD 1: Unlock the Cabinet with a Paper clip 

This method is one of the best options because you can easily find a paper clip around office areas. All it demands is patience and creativity. Follow the stepwise guide below to carry out the process.

STEP 1: Work on the Paper Clip

The first task you have to do is on your paper clip. The clip has two ends. All you need to do is straighten one of its terminal parts and leave the other. Curve the straightened part's tip and get ready to pick the lock.

STEP 2: Penetrate the Keyhole 

A paper clip tip is small enough to fit the keyhole. Put the clip’s curved end into the keyspace. The aim is to make the clip act as an opener. Utilize your thumb and index finger to grip the hook while you insert.

Move the bent end into the hole, and make sure you hold the clip vertically. Note that it won't slide into the spot if you keep the clip horizontally. If you hold and push it right, the clip's curved part should press down on the lock's pin. 

STEP 3: Move Your Clip like a Key 

Remember that the aim is to make the clip act as an opener. Once you can push down the lock's pin, move the clip from right to left. The movement should orient the guarding mechanism into an opening position. 

Note that the inclination of each lock varies. So, move the paper clip in the direction of the regular key. If you are working on the lock for the first time, you will feel the right side. But for every opener, you either turn clockwise or anti-clockwise. 

STEP 4: Unlock the Cabinet 

Once you figure out the right direction to move the clip, proceed to unlock it. Use the hook to direct the safe’s guard from lock to unlock setting. The continuous movement will help you find the key's perfect opening position. 

The site of the keyhole is vital to the unlocking process. For instance, some guard space maintains a vertical orientation when locked. You have to shift the lock in the reverse direction in this scenario. Move it till the lock's opening area is horizontal. 

STEP 5: Pull the Handle to Open

You will know when the clip already unlocks the file document cabinet. Pulling it will help you to confirm if it is unlocked. Ensure that you don't force it! The cabinet will slide open with ease if it is unbarred. The key will remain open until you reverse the steps above to lock it. 

METHOD 2: Unlock the Safe File Cabinet with a Thin Wire

The steps to follow for this approach are;

STEP 1: Get Suitable Wire 

The first step in this process is to obtain a wire that will fit into the lock. The wire shouldn't be too big or too tiny. It is most beneficial to have the thickness of the lost key. 

STEP 2: Bend the Wire into A" Z" Shape 

Once you have your wire, move on to bending it into a Z shape. The wire should be flexible enough to penetrate the hole. Also, it should be strong enough to put pressure on the lock to open. 

STEP 3: Use a Second Wire 

You will need a second wire that can go far into the keyhole. This one can be slightly longer and thinner than the one with the Z shape. Make a slight upward tilt at the tip of the second wire. This wire will help you to push the tumblers up.

STEP 4: Fit In the Wires 

Now it's time to insert the two wires in the keyhole. Place the "Z" end of the wire into the lock. Make sure it aligns with the straight segment of the key. But you don’t have to put it deep inside the keyhole. Place your thumb at the other end to aid the application of mild pressure. Note that it is not advisable to use too much pressure to avoid bending the wire. 

Insert the second wire with the bent tip as well. Use it to locate the tumblers and count them. There are usually three to four tumblers for each lock. 

STEP 5: Apply Pressure 

Keep applying pressure on the lock's wrench. This tension will ease the tumblers’ pushing up and out of the lock's cam. A click will help you to know that it is already in place. If it does not give a tick or falls back, you need more force. 

Redo the process for each tumbler present in the lock. The pro tip of this method is applying tension the right way. Know where and how to use pressure. Too much force can cause the wire to bend without achieving your aim. 

This method can be somewhat tricky, especially if it is your first time. So, don't be too lazy to start over as much as it demands. 

STEP 6: Open the Cabinet 

Once you figure out that all the tumblers are out up in the cam, gently turn it like a key. This movement will help you to unlock the safe. Next, pull out the cabinet gently. Note that you shouldn't force it out. If it is not pulling with ease, you have more work to do on the lock. 

 METHOD 3: Open Safe Cabinet with a Nail Clipper File

This method is similar to step one above. The tip of the nail clipper already has a curve-pointed end. So, you don't have to rework it. The subsequent steps are also comparable to method one. 

STEP 1: Model the Nail Clipper File as a Lock Pick 

The first thing to do is to picture the nail clipper like a lock pick. You are using the knife-like part of the nail trimmer for this process. Note that the tip is pointed already, so, no need to work on it again. 

Hold the file at the point where it joins with the nail clippers. Holding it at this point will make it easy to handle. Press it until it is straight and it aligns with the keyhole. 

STEP 2: Insert the File 

The next thing to do is to insert the file into the lock. You can choose to slide it in either a clockwise or counterclockwise orientation. But the curve part of the file should face down. Keep inserting it until it doesn't move further with ease. The bent section of the tip will get into the guard site filling at this point.

STEP 3: Unlock 

If you are familiar with the key, move the file like you want to free it with an opener. If not, move it in both directions to figure it out. Once the file tip gets into the correct position, the curved end will fix the rest. You will feel it via the movement of the file.

Note that this technique entails a bit of trial and error. Also, the filling of each lock type varies. So, keep moving until you deal with all the latch.

STEP 4: Use File to Release The Locking Mechanism 

The cabinet will not slide open if you don't release its lock. So, move the file up and down the keyhole with slight pressure. Keep moving until the lock's pin gets out of the way. Most locks have 3 to 5 pins, and you have to move the file several times. 

The key to this procedure is to get the file tip into the proper position. Once you are sure it is in the appropriate place, move it slightly towards the unlocking direction. It can give a click sound to confirm you are done. If not, pull out the cabinet at intervals and see if it will slide out with ease. 

STEP 5: Open the Cabinet 

Congratulations if you get the steps above right. Pull out the cabinet and watch it slide out with ease. If it doesn't, you might have to repeat the last two steps in this method. 

METHOD 4: Drill the Lock 

Drilling the lock should be your last resort. It would be best to only think about it when there is no other option to consider. Boring the lock will damage it. In fact, it can even destroy the entire cabinet, and it will cost some cash to fix. 

However, boring is relatively easier than other methods. Use the right-sized drill to open up the top part of the safe. Let it move slowly and avoid pushing it too hard. This method will render the lock unusable anyway. But it is a superb way to deal with urgent situations. 

How Do You Open A Safe Without The Code? 

Using a 3 drawer file cabinet with a safe mostly comes with code. This feature is also typical with a safe cabinet laboratory data cabinet. There are times you can forget the cipher or the settings. Either way, you must find an alternative method to open it. 

Just like opening a lock when you lose a key, you can unlock a safe without the required digits. Here are practical options to consider;

1. Using Knife or Other Sharp Tools 

You can unlock a safe without the code using a knife. But it will only work if the safe has a lock hole. All you need to do is introduce the blade into this hole and shake vigorously. This shaking or wiggling will force the lock system to disengage. Once the mechanism releases, then it becomes easy to open the safe. 

Note that this method might not work well on high-tech digital locks. But it will be perfect on cheap locks with regular passcodes. Also, this approach is suitable for digital keypad safe and combination key. 

2. Use Screwdrivers 

You can also insert screwdrivers in the lock's keyhole like its key. Then the shack moves it aggressively to break the lock. Keep moving the tool in both directions until you feel that the locking mechanism disengages. 

Note that this method might damage the safe lock and make it unusable. This procedure usually works for 3 drawer data storage chests with a safe. You can also use it for safe cabinet laboratory file cabinets. 

3. Use the Drilling Method

Again, using the drilling method should be a last resort. Although it will override the lock, it will also damage the safe. You can view it as an alternative if you want to get in urgently. 

How Do You Unlock A Safety Box? 

There are several easy ways to open a safety box. The suitable method depends on the type of lock you want to unhitch. Highlighted below are feasible options you can use;

1. Unlocking a Safe that Uses a 3-wheel Combination Code 

Start by identifying the combination code in the manufacturer's instruction manual. Rotate the dial towards the left and move it past the first number on the code three times. Next, rotate the control to the right past the next digit two times. Note that you have to restart it if you move it more than twice. 

Move the dial left and rotate it past the third number only once before stopping on the figure. Now, turn the dial gently until it seizes and the bolt pulls back. If your safe lock has a handle, turn it and open it with ease. 

2. Unlocking a Safe with a 4-wheel Combination Code

The method of opening this safe is similar to the one above. The distinction is in the number of combination codes. Follow the same process with the three-wheel combination code except for the digits. 

Locate the sequence key in your instruction manual. Move the dial to the right past the first number four times. Change the direction to the right and move it past the second number thrice. Rotate it towards the left and past the third number twice. Next, move it past the last digit once close to the right before stopping on the number. 

Now, turn the dial gently until it seizes and the bolt pulls back. If your safe lock has a handle, turn it and open it with ease. 

3. Use Passcodes 

You can use passcodes for your safe lock if they have buttons. The manufacturer will either let it come with an existing code or allow you to reset it. Either way, you only need to type in your passcodes. 

4. Use Combo Cards 

Some safe locks use combo cards. The card comes with the pack, and all you need to do is swipe through the provided space. Remember to follow all manufacturers' instructions about using a combo card. You can also use combination digits to reset passcodes. 

5. Use the Key 

This method is the easiest way to unlock a safe. All you need to do is put the key into the keyhole and turn. In case you misplace your cabinet key, you have to contact the manufacturer for another pass. You can also use other unlocking options. 

How Do You Open A Safe If You Forgot The Combination?

The best way to unlock a safe if you forget the combination code is by using the emergency key. The keyhole is usually beneath the dial pad/ keypad. So, you have to remove it first. Enter the key and direct it lightly to unlock it. 

If you can't find the combination key, you might have to reach out to the producer for a reset. Else, you can break the lock or consult a locksmith. 


Losing the key to your safe file cabinet can be frustrating. It becomes worse when you need to get something urgently. It is a good idea to learn about the alternative ways to unlock it without damaging the lock. 

It is best to be careful with your key if you use a filing cabinet with the vault. But in case you lose it, feel free to try any of the techniques above. Don't forget, damaging the lock should be your last resort! 

Looking for a new safe? We've got you covered.

We hope this article has given you some good tips on how you might be able to get into your safe or filing cabinet if you've misplaced the key. Looking for a new safe, perhaps with more methods of entry so you're not relying on a physical key? We've got a TON of safes for you to check out here.

Need some help sorting through all the options? We’re here for you!

Simply contact us by phone at 844-245-4065 or email at customerservice@armadillosafes.com and one of our customer service experts will be happy to give you a hand!