What to Do with Old Combination Locks?

An old combination lock

Combination locks are a popular choice for securing various items, including safes, gates, lockers, and more. They offer a secure and convenient way to keep your belongings safe. In this section, we will discuss the basics of combination locks to help you better understand how they work.

A combination lock typically consists of a dial with numbers printed on it, a latch or bolt, and a back cover. The numbers on the dial are used to set the combination, which is a specific sequence of numbers that must be entered to open the lock. The latch or bolt is the mechanism that secures the lock, and the back cover protects the internal components.

To open a combination lock, you must turn the dial to the correct sequence of numbers. The sequence can be any combination of numbers, letters, or symbols, depending on the lock. Some locks may have only one or two numbers, while others may have up to six or more.

The dial on a combination lock typically turns clockwise and counterclockwise, depending on the lock. To set the combination, you must turn the dial in a specific direction and enter the numbers in the correct sequence. Once the correct sequence is entered, the latch or bolt will release, allowing you to open the lock.

If you forget the combination or need to reset it, you can do so by following the manufacturer’s instructions. This may involve removing the back cover, adjusting the tension on the wheels, or using a special tool to reset the lock.

In some cases, you may need to hire a locksmith to open a combination lock. This is especially true if the lock is damaged or the combination has been forgotten. A locksmith can use specialized tools and techniques to open the lock without causing damage to the lock or the item it is securing.

Common Issues with Old Combination Locks

When dealing with old combination locks, we often come across various issues that can make it difficult to use them. Here are some common issues that we have encountered and how to address them.

Worn Locks

Old combination locks can become worn over time, especially if they have been used frequently. This can cause the lock to become loose and difficult to turn. If you are experiencing this issue, it may be time to replace the lock.


If you need to disassemble an old combination lock, it is important to be careful. Some locks can be quite complex and difficult to put back together. Make sure you keep track of all the parts and take note of the order in which they were removed. If you are unsure about how to disassemble the lock, it may be best to seek professional help.


Old combination locks can become stiff and difficult to turn if they are not lubricated regularly. We recommend using a silicone-based lubricant to keep the lock functioning smoothly. Apply a small amount of lubricant to the keyhole and turn the lock a few times to distribute it evenly.

Combination Changes

If you need to change the combination on an old lock, it can be a bit tricky. Some locks require a specific sequence of movements to change the combination. Make sure you have the instructions for your specific lock before attempting to change the combination.

Tight Locks

If the lock is too tight and difficult to turn, it may be because the shackle is pressing against the lock body. Try pressing down on the shackle while turning the dial to see if this helps. If the problem persists, it may be time to replace the lock.

Spring Back

Old combination locks can sometimes “spring back” after the correct combination has been entered. This can be frustrating and make it difficult to open the lock. To prevent this from happening, make sure you turn the dial slowly and steadily.


If you need to replace parts on an old combination lock, it can be difficult to find the right ones. We recommend contacting the manufacturer or a professional locksmith to ensure you get the correct parts.

Resetting and Changing the Combination

Resetting and changing the combination of an old combination lock can be a bit tricky, but it is not impossible. Here are some steps that we can follow to reset or change the combination of a combination lock:

  1. Find the reset button: Most combination locks have a reset button that you need to press to reset the lock. The reset button is usually located on the back of the lock or inside the shackle.
  2. Reset the lock: To reset the lock, you need to press the reset button and hold it down while you change the combination. Once you have set the new combination, release the reset button.
  3. Change the combination: To change the combination, you need to turn the dial to the current combination and then enter the new combination. Make sure that you remember the new combination, or write it down somewhere safe.
  4. Test the lock: Once you have reset or changed the combination, test the lock to make sure that it is working properly. If the lock is not working, repeat the process until you get it right.

It is important to note that some combination locks have a factory setting that you can use to reset the lock. If you do not know the factory setting, you can usually find it in the instruction manual or by contacting the manufacturer.

Opening a Stuck or Jammed Lock

Sometimes, combination locks can get stuck or jammed, making it difficult or impossible to open them. Here are a few things we can try to open a stuck or jammed lock:

  • Try the combination again: Sometimes, the lock may have been accidentally moved, causing the combination to be slightly off. Try entering the combination again, making sure to turn the dial in the correct direction and to the correct numbers.
  • Use force: If the lock is still stuck, we can try using force to open it. However, we need to be careful not to damage the lock or the item it is attached to. We can try using a screwdriver or other tool to apply pressure to the lock and turn the dial at the same time. Alternatively, we can try hitting the lock with a hammer or other heavy object to jar it loose.
  • Use a deadbolt notch: Some combination locks have a deadbolt notch that can be used to open the lock if the combination is forgotten or the lock is stuck. We can insert a flat object, such as a credit card or knife, into the notch and turn it to open the lock.
  • Try DIY solutions: There are many DIY solutions that we can try to open a stuck or jammed lock. For example, we can try spraying the lock with WD-40 or other lubricant to loosen it up. We can also try using a hairpin or paperclip to pick the lock.
  • Contact a professional: If all else fails, we may need to contact a professional locksmith to open the lock for us. They will have specialized tools and knowledge to open the lock without damaging it.

Opening a stuck or jammed lock can be frustrating, but with a little patience and ingenuity, we can usually find a way to open the lock without damaging it.

Repurposing Old Combination Locks

We often have old combination locks lying around, but we don’t know what to do with them. Instead of throwing them away, we can repurpose them in creative ways. Here are a few ideas:

Garden Decoration

Old combination locks can be used to add a rustic touch to your garden. You can hang them on a fence or gate to add a unique and interesting element to your outdoor space. You can also use them to create a garden sculpture or wind chime by attaching them to a metal rod and hanging them from a tree or other structure.

Door Hinges

If you have a door that doesn’t close properly, you can use an old combination lock to fix it. Simply attach the lock to the hinge side of the door to add weight and help it close properly.

Bag Accessories

Old combination locks can be used as bag accessories to add a unique touch to your purse or backpack. You can attach them to the zipper or strap to add a bit of personality to your bag.

Knob Decoration

You can use old combination locks to decorate your door knobs. Simply wrap the lock around the knob and secure it in place. This is a great way to add a bit of personality to your home.

Magnetic Key Holder

You can turn an old combination lock into a magnetic key holder. Simply remove the lock mechanism and attach a magnet to the back of the lock. You can then attach the lock to a metal surface and use it to hold your keys.

Letter Holder

Old combination locks can be used as letter holders. Simply attach the lock to a piece of wood or metal and use it to hold your mail. This is a great way to add a bit of personality to your home office.

Piggy Bank

You can turn an old combination lock into a piggy bank. Simply cut a slot in the top of the lock and use it to store your spare change. This is a great way to repurpose an old lock and save money at the same time.

Disposal and Recycling Options

When it comes to disposing of old combination locks, it is important to do so responsibly. Throwing them in the trash is not an environmentally friendly option, as they can end up in landfills and take years to decompose. Instead, consider the following disposal and recycling options:

  • Recycling Centers: Many recycling centers accept metal materials, including combination locks. Check with your local recycling center to see if they accept combination locks and if there are any specific instructions for recycling them.
  • Metal Scrap Yards: Metal scrap yards may also accept combination locks for recycling. They may even pay you for the metal, depending on the current market value.
  • Electronic Waste Recycling Facilities: If your combination lock has electronic components, it may be considered electronic waste and should be recycled accordingly. Many electronic waste recycling facilities accept small electronic devices, including combination locks.
  • Donation: If your combination lock is still in good condition, consider donating it to a local charity or thrift store. Someone may be able to use it and extend its lifespan.

Remember to remove any personal information or reset the combination before disposing of or donating your combination lock. By choosing a responsible disposal or recycling option, we can help reduce waste and protect the environment.

Using Old Combination Locks for Training

If you have old combination locks lying around, don’t throw them away just yet! They can actually be useful for training purposes. Here are a few ways to use them:

Locksmith Training

Combination locks can be an excellent tool for locksmiths in training. They provide a hands-on way to learn about the inner workings of locks and how to manipulate them. Locksmiths can practice opening and re-locking the locks repeatedly until they become proficient.

Mechanical Device Education

Combination locks can also be used for teaching mechanical device education. They can be used to demonstrate how gears, tumblers, and other mechanical components work together to create a locking mechanism. This can be especially helpful for students who are visual learners.

DIY Projects

Old combination locks can also be used in various DIY projects. For example, they can be used to create a unique piece of jewelry or incorporated into a piece of furniture. The possibilities are endless, and using old locks in this way can add a touch of vintage charm to any project.

Overall, old combination locks can be repurposed for a variety of training and DIY purposes. Don’t let them go to waste!

Securing Valuables with Old Locks

When it comes to securing our valuables, we often think of high-tech electronic locks or sturdy door locks. However, old combination locks can still serve a purpose in keeping our belongings safe.

If you have an old combination lock lying around, don’t forget about it. Remembering the combination can be a challenge, but with a little effort, you can unlock the potential of these locks.

One way to use old combination locks is to secure luggage, briefcases, or suitcases. These locks can add an extra layer of security to your belongings when traveling. The clicking sound of the locking mechanism can give you peace of mind, knowing that your luggage is secured.

Another way to use old combination locks is to secure valuable items in a safe. While electronic locks and password-protected safes are becoming more popular, old combination locks can still be a reliable option. With regular servicing, these locks can continue to function for years to come.

Old combination locks may not be the most high-tech or flashy option for securing your valuables, but they can still serve a purpose. Don’t forget about them, and remember to keep the combination in a safe place.

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