The Grandfather clock is widely known for its elegance, as much as its long case. The pendulum is of wonderful significance. In ancient times, it was an object of respect, allure and authority. Today, the grandfather clock is a cultural artefact. As every other valuable piece of antique furniture, it comes with a lock, which can be unlocked with a skeleton key. But what if you misplace the key? How do you open a grandfather clock without a key?

Well, a lot of grandfather clocks have locks built in the historic era, which were merely for decorative purposes, meaning they will be fairly easy to open without using a key.

How to Open Grandfather Clock Without Key

Opening a grandfather clock without key

Here are helpful tips that you can use to open up a grandfather clock without a key:

Paper Clips 

Improvised tools will come in handy if you want to attempt picking the lock yourself. They are relatively easy to acquire at home. Items like paper clips can be transformed into tools for picking the lock. 

The trick is to fit the paper clip into the lock mechanism, especially for older grandfather clocks. It needs to be bent into a 90-degree angle to apply pressure on the latch, to force an opening. 

Nail file

The nail file can be used to open a grandfather clock, but it will require patience, luck and a lot of effort. To do this successfully, you will have to find a nail file with a curved tip. Put the curved tip at the top of the nail file into the keyhole.

The key (no pun intended) to effectively unlocking the clock is to move the nail file in a clockwise and anti-clockwise motion repeatedly. This will also help to position the nail file in the keyhole properly. It might seem difficult, but with a bit of patience and persistence, it will work. 

Allen wrench

Allen wrench is a relatively easy tool to find or acquire. It is also simple enough to use. It is primarily made for hexagonal-shaped bolts and screws. If you can’t find an Allen wrench, then stiff wire bent into a dual 90-degree angle will come in handy. The emphasis is on the 90-degree angle because whatever tool you will use has to have the shape to disengage the lever from the bolt. 

The first step in using this method is by inserting the wrench into the lock and applying pressure until you are confident of the movement of the lever. Then you move the wrench in a back-and-forth or up-and-down motion. By doing the movement repeatedly, there should be a ‘resistance’ in the bolt. If you notice there is no resistance whatsoever, then it could signify that the spring inside the lock is damaged. You will need the assistance of a locksmith if that happens. 

Read: Lose Your House Keys (Doors and Window Keys)

Wire Coat Hangers 

A wire coat hanger is malleable enough to be twisted into a hook. You will have to be careful with a hanger while twisting so as not to injure your hand. We recommend you use a plier to bend the coat hanger to a 90-degree angle. After that, insert the hanger end into the lock and twist in a side to side motion, similar to the way you’d use a key. 

Read: How Do You Unlock A Car Door With A Hanger

Get a locksmith

Why increase the chances of damaging the lock when you can contact a locksmith? Locksmiths are professionals and are competent enough to fix and unlock any lock in no time. It is the best solution to unlocking your grandfather clock. A lot of people may not be keen on getting locksmiths involved because they do not have an idea of how locksmiths work. Locksmiths are hospitable and will always be glad to help.

Whether you need a key replacement or extract the broken key or replacing the lock, a locksmith is always up to the task. Calling a locksmith is not only cost-effective but time-efficient as well. It turns out that most people who try to open grandfather clocks by themselves without keys end up doing a lot of damage to the lock. 

Read: Does a Locksmith Break Your Lock


Unlocking a grandfather clock without a key can be very difficult for some. Those methods briefly outlined above will assist you in figuring out the best solution to the problem.