How to Open a Safe

How to Open a Safe with a Combination Lock

Do you remember back in junior high when you got your first locker to store your books in? Most likely it had a combination lock on it, and you’d have to memorize that combination to be able to open your locker. If you forgot the combination, you were in trouble, because rather than call a locksmith they’d probably just cut it off and you’d have to get a new combination lock. Well, now that you’re a locksmith, you know even better just how secure combination safe locks are. But as a locksmith, you need to know how to open a safe with a combination lock. So here’s what you need to do: you need to get all the tools, equipment, experience, and know-how to be able to do it properly. Having the newest and best state of the art equipment for it and the knowledge and skills to do so will be essential in enabling you to complete the task. Armed with all of that, you’ll be a safe locksmith that’s highly sought after here in the Oakland area.

Typically used for housing personal information or effects, such as important documents, heirlooms, or valuables, combination safes are used in all kinds of homes and businesses. Due to normal wear and tear of use, abuse by someone attempting to break in, or accidental damage, sometimes combination lock safes need to be opened and repaired. Here’s what you’re looking at.

Prying or Cutting

Prying or cutting open a combination lock is one way of doing it. If you have the right tools, you can pry the door out of the door frame. It’s not the most preferred method and usually will cause irreparable damage, but it’s a last resort. Similarly, you can cut open a safe with a combination lock using a saw or torch or other cutting device. However, it also causes significant damage and is used as a last resort if other methods do not work.

Drilling or Scoping

Drilling is a common method employed by locksmiths like yourself. You simply drill a small hole in the safe so that you can carefully insert your tools in to open the lock. Similarly, scoping involves drilling a hole and inserting a borescope to be able to see what’s going on inside. These allow easier access and ability to open the lock. Both of these methods are difficult and take very specialized skills as well as a knowledge of current technology because many safe manufacturers use complex technology to better protect their safes.


Another common way is manipulating the lock to open through touch or sound. You recall in the film “The Italian Job” how Charlize Theron’s character preferred the method of scoping or drilling while Donald Sutherland’s character preferred to manipulate through sound and touch. This method is ultimately best because it does not affect or harm the lock in any way. It’s quite difficult and can take hours to do. Many locksmiths use stethoscopes to aid in the detection of the clicking or vibrating sound that locks make upon reaching the specific correct combination.

Ultimately, the best help in opening safes is in keeping yourself very familiar with safe lock types, manufacturers, model numbers, and the latest equipment available for you to use.