What to Do with a Padlock That Stubbornly Refuses to Open

If you own a storage facility of some kind that you only use periodically, you may not have visited the location for quite a while. Usually, you don't need to access whatever is kept inside, but on this occasion you urgently need to get a particular item. If you've arrived at the facility and found that you cannot gain access as there is something wrong with the padlock that secures it, what is your best course of action?

Thou Shalt Not Pass

You may have invested money in securing this facility well and have been very happy with the quality of the padlock fitted to the outside. Nevertheless, something's happened in the interim and now it's stubbornly refusing to let you gain access. In an ideal world, you don't want to use destructive force and break the padlock if you can help it, but is there any other way of overcoming this impasse?

Cleaning and Lubricating

You may start off by cleaning the lock, especially if it's been open to the elements for all of this time. You can get a proprietary product that is designed to free moving parts that may have stuck or corroded together and this type of solution may also be able to loosen any leaves, insects or impediments that may have compromised the lock's ability.

Using Shams

If this doesn't work, you may be able to use a "sham" to gently prise the shackle open. This will only work on certain types of padlock, unfortunately, but you can use a simple piece of aluminium instead of a sham that was purpose made for the operation. Certainly, if you're not used to this type of process you may have to progress through trial and error, but you basically want to try and ensure that you insert the shim in between the shackle and the casing. It may help to use two shims or home-made alternatives, one on each side and pressing down on them in tandem.


If you're still frustrated, you may have to resort to a destructive approach by drilling out the core of the lock. Some padlocks are made to resist this type of approach for obvious reasons, but you will likely have to refer to the information provided by the manufacturer to work out exactly where to apply the drill bit. If you are successful, you may (subject to how precisely you work) be able to use the padlock again by replacing the core.

Brute Force

In the worst-case scenario, you can get a sturdy pair of bolt cutters and simply cut through the shackle. If it's very difficult to access the shackle then you may have to resort to cutting through whatever it is attached to instead.

Involving Pros

Alternatively, get in touch with a locksmith in the area who may be able to come to your defence, allow you access and still save all of your gear and equipment for future use.

About Me

Installing a Specialist Safe

Hello, my name is Mark and I live with my wonderful wife and kid in Brisbane, Australia. We live on the outskirts of town so it only takes me half an hour to get right out into the Bush. Last year, I decided I would like to invest in a hunting rifle so I could spend my weekend camping and shooting in the outback. However, when I am not using my gun, Australia law requires that it is kept in a secure location. I was lucky enough to find a great locksmith who fitted the safe and also installed new locks on my doors and windows

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