Removing lock cylinder from desk drawer

karinlJuly 29, 2009

Hi - I'm wondering if anyone can help me solve this problem or direct me to a more appropriate place to ask if there is one.

I can't figure out how to remove the lock cylinder from this drawer:

I'm rescuing/refinishing the drawers from an otherwise end-of-life oak desk - you know the kind, they're a dime a dozen. I plan to repurpose the drawers so I don't need the lock to remain functional, but it would be nice to leave it looking good. I can't give the drawer as good a scraping or sanding with the lock cylinder on.

Thanks, I appreciate any guidance.


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I wonder if that mortisse lock just presses in and then the key cylinder is inserted with a control key? The key cylinder may hold everything in place, but you need to make it release from the other part of the lock. Do you have a key? The control key might just be an uncut blank.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 9:25AM
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I have seen both press in (wood and/or metal contact) and screw in cylinders (rarer).

Since they are not intended to ever be removed it was not a consideration in the design.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 2:47PM
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It looks like it is pressed in. I would try to remove the escutcheon around the keyhole by first sliding a razor blade under it all around. Then slightly thicker metal to gently pry it off. Try not to use a screwdrive because it will leave a gouge/dent. After it is removed, see if there is anything to prevent you from removing the lock assembly(key cylinder as Aidan says). If so, remove it. If you have the key, extend the lock tab and grab it with vice grips to wiggle/pry it out.
If you ruin the escutcheon, you can get new ones on line.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:11AM
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Thank you so much for the suggestions.

As I don't have the key, let alone something like a control key, Aidan's comment prompted me to go to a locksmith yesterday afternoon, but the uncut blanks he had didn't seem to help. He also tried to activate the lock with his picking tools - his plan was what you suggested, Steve, to grab ahold of the lock tab if he could and pull from there. But it was no go, and even he was left baffled. He did note that the cylinder goes deep, must be just a sliver of wood behind it inside the drawer.

I have worked with the escutcheon a bit - I've gotten it to turn freely independent of the lock, and we've tried to pry to the extent that any further efforts would damage it. Maybe I'll check for available replacements before doing more of that!

I suspect Brickeyee's point has merit, now that I think about it. Since they were making these desks in big numbers for fairly utilitarian purposes, it may not have been conceivable that anyone would ever want to remove the locks, and indeed making them tamper-proof may have been an objective. It may just not be possible to remove the lock without sacrificing it... and/or wrecking the wood around it.

I think I'll wander by a furniture refinisher's today at an antique shop that I frequent, and ask what they would do. I can't possibly be the first person to encounter this problem.

Thank you again, and I'll post any progress.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 1:38PM
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