Back to Basics: Rekeying a Kwikset Knob Lock

Nov. 2, 2023
With one specialized tool, you can quickly disassemble and rekey this basic knob lock.

Today we will be rekeying a Kwikset knob lock (Photo 1) with the tools shown in Photo 2. These used to be very common in some parts of the country. If your customer isn’t ready to upgrade to a newer lock, this article and video will show how to rekey these locks.

You will need a specialty tool called the Kwikset lever cylinder release or rekey tool. It’s a long, pickle-fork looking device. I will also show you how to do it the hard way without the tool.

You do need to take this lock off the door before you start the rekeying process. (Photo 3)

The first step is depressing the spring release or the spindle release (Photos 4 and 5), which I’m doing with a conventional screwdriver. When that spring is released, you can rotate the spindle so that it can be removed from the knob lock. Some are metal and some are plastic. Be careful with the plastic ones.

Photo 6 shows the two cylinder removal tools. You can also use two screwdrivers as shown in Photo 7. You need to collapse the two metal prongs that catch in the housing of the knob in order to release the cylinder. (Photo 8)

In Photo 9, the cylinder has been removed from the front of the knob housing. Photo 10 is a close-up view of those two metal prongs. If they got bent too far in due to abuse or if you had a hard time getting them out, you’ll need to re-bend them so they catch on the way back out.

I’m using a Kwikset Titan key (Photo 11) to shim the lock (Photo 12). You can use any five-pin or six-pin key. Because we don’t have a key for this particular lock cylinder, we’re going to use a shim from the back side of the lock in conjunction with the key blank to shim and pick the lock so we can get it open and re-service it.

The clip was removed from the back of the cylinder (Photo 13), and Photo 14 shows the plug that has now been removed from the lock. We have the plug in place. At this point, we can sight-read (Photo 15) and cut a key for this lock if that is our main goal – to make a working key.

Our other option is to rekey the lock to a separate key (Photo 16) with new pins in so that it is keyed different from any other lock.

Again, I was using the KW 10 or Kwikset six-pin key to shim the lock open. You will need to use the KW1 or Kwikset five-pin key blank to repin the cylinder and make it work.

Photo 17 shows all the new pins lined up in a row. Everything meets the shearline, nice and smooth. (Photo 18) We’re using the plug and follower to put the plug back into the lock cylinder.

Once the plug is back in the lock cylinder, we can remove the key, make sure it works and then re-install the entire front portion of the cylinder into the knob. (Photo 19) Make sure that it clicks. If it does not click, you may need to bend those tabs back; don’t overbend them or break them.

We have successfully rekeyed this Kwikset pin tumbler knob lock. (Photo 20) Put it back on the door and you are done.

Wayne Winton is the owner of Tri-County Locksmith Services, located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. For more information, check out Wayne’ and