How does a Skeleton Key Work?

Skeleton Key is a type of key that is hollow from the inside bit. The hollowed bit gives it the advantage of opening different locks. It mostly has an open circle on the head of the key. The ring leads to a thin key at the bottom, and the bottom part has the necessary key parts. These keys can only open levers and some warded locks. People call it the skeleton key because the key consists only of its vital parts. 

Another reason is because of its shape; keys with narrow shafts are referred to as skeleton keys. It looks like a human skeleton. This article will guide you on how does a skeleton key work? Skeleton keys are primarily used in antique locks. The antique locks are outdated, and the security of the lock is reduced over time. You can contact Lock Installation in Schiller Park if you want to change your antique lock. 

There are two types of skeleton keys. One is the antique key design that opens warded locks. The other works as a master key to open different locks. The skeleton key that works as a master key is designed according to the lock you want to bypass. Locksmiths mainly use it to pick locks. 

Skeleton Key as Master Key

Skeleton keys are mostly made of steel or other metal that does not rust when it comes in contact with moisture. Locksmiths use it as a master key to bypass levers and some warded locks. There are metal pins (or teeth) on one side of the skeleton key. It comes in different sizes and shapes, depending on the type of lock you want to bypass. Skeleton keys are very efficient in bypassing lever locks. The warded part of the key is removed to prevent any interruptions inside the lock. The key is 

How does a Skeleton Key Work?

As mentioned above, the skeleton key can only open lever locks and some kinds of warded locks. It is vital to identify the type of lock before you try to bypass it. 

Lever Locks

Lever locks are one of the most common types of locks. It consists of primarily three or five levers. To open the lock, you have to raise the levers to the right height. After you raise all the levers at the ideal height, it will release the bolt. 

You can use the skeleton key to open lever locks efficiently if it is of the right size compatible with the lock. If you get the right skeleton key compatible with the lock, insert the key in the lock. The pins of the skeleton key must be intact. After inserting the skeleton key in the lock, try to get an idea of the levers. Once you know the levers’ position, use the metal pins in the skeleton key to raise them. It will take some time as all the levers have to be raised at the same time. 

It is essential to place the key at the right height to raise the levers and then apply a little force to open the lock. Do not apply too much pressure, as you can damage the key or lock. You will have to take assistance from Rekey lock in Schiller Park if you break the key in the lock. Turn the key at the angle that aligns all of the pins. The lock will open once you raise all the levers. 

Warded Locks

Warded locks are one of the oldest locks dating back to the middle ages. These locks have been upgraded with time, but the mechanism is the same. Professionals consider it a low-security lock in contrast with modern locks. Warded locks include a series of vertical notches. These notches work as obstructions or wards, and they prevent the wrong key from entering the keyhole. Moreover, warded locks also have a spring that controls the bolt. 

The skeleton key has a very thin body which is why it can overcome obstructions. The metal pins in the skeleton key must match the obstruction in the keyhole to open the lock.

When you enter the key in the keyhole, the notches will line up with the metal pins. Rotate the key to open the lock. If the notches do not line up with the metal pins, wiggle the key in the keyhole with a bit of force. 

The skeleton key will only be helpful if there are no wards on the outside of the locks. Some people have upgraded the locks by increasing the number of wards to increase security. Skeleton keys will not be able to bypass such locks.


You should not attempt to pick locks if your skeleton key is not compatible with the lock. You can make changes to the key to make it line up with the lock. Determine the type of the lock and the skeleton key. You can not pick deadbolts or other high-security locks using skeleton keys.

Also Read: DIY: Sealing Ductwork from the Inside

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