How to Replace File Cabinet Locks

A filing cabinet.
What You'll Need
New file cabinet lock

Many times, people opt to throw away a cabinet because of a spoiled or vandalized lock, but what they may not realize is that it is much cheaper to buy and replace the file cabinet locks rather than buy a new cabinet. When looking for a lock to replace your current one, look for the exact same one as the broken one. If possible, go with it to the hardware store. Replacing a lock is a wise decision, as it will save you money from buying one and help you secure the items that are in your file cabinet.

Using these easy steps, you can replace your own file cabinet lock in just a matter of time.

Step 1 - Open the Cabinet

For you to repair or replace a new file cabinet lock, the cabinet has to be open. This may require you to dismantle the whole key lock system. Use a hammer and a chisel/drill to knock out the cylinder at the center of the cabinet lock. Do this carefully and make sure that the chisel is sharp to avoid causing damage to the whole cabinet. Removal of this cylinder interrupts the locking system and thus automatically opens the cabinet.

Step 2 - Remove C-Clip

An open filing cabinet.

There is a relatively small sized clip on the lock, called a C-clip, which connects the lock to the walls of the cabinet. Using pliers, pull the C-clip off. This way, you will be able to pull the lock out of its notch.

Step 3 - Install the Lock

Before inserting the cabinet lock into the notch, ensure that the key is inside the lock and that the lock is not open. Since this is just a replacement, use the previous lock’s screw holes to adjust the new cabinet lock into position. Insert the new lock’s C-clip into the hole.

Step 4 - Confirm Lock is Secure

For the file cabinet lock to work efficiently, you must make sure that the lock is aligned well with the locking system on the cabinet wall.

Step 5 - Test Lock

An open filing cabinet.

Turn the key in its lock and test if the replacement process was successful. If the lock fits and locks with ease, then the cabinet is good to go.

Extra Tips

It is always wise to gauge and see if you are capable of carrying out the task without any injuries and without destroying the whole file cabinet, leading to a greater cost of replacing the file cabinet itself. If you feel that you cannot change the cabinet lock on your own, get assistance from a professional. The tools you use in this job can cause injuries if not used carefully and with skill, especially any cutting tools like the chisel.

Goggles and hand gloves are essential during any kind of carpentry. As long as you will be exposed to wood splinters, it is advisable to put on protective wear to prevent harming yourself.