enter image description hereBest I remember I locked it with the key that works to lock/unlock the glass cabinet (don't remember having another key). The key will turn all the way to the right but only partially to the left. I talked to a person who works with old furniture who suggested tilting the piece to the side and also front and back and see if it would loosen the tumblers but no luck. Wondering if anyone here has experience with/suggestions about this. Here is a picture: https://www.ebth.com/items/3747688-writing-desk-with-glass-cabinet

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    Please upload your pics to be hosted here - nobody's going to make an account at your sale site just to view the pics. Simply edit your question, then click the "sun & mountain" icon and select the pics. They'll be uploaded & hosted for you.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 26 at 21:59
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    @FreeMan Link does not ask to make an account for me. It opens and shows the pictures. It is nicer to have the pictures with the question.
    – crip659
    Feb 26 at 22:06
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    A lock lubricant might help.
    – crip659
    Feb 26 at 22:16
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    Pictures of the specific, actual cabinet, especially in the detailed area of the lock, and showing the key, would be helpful. Most of that sort have some sort of warded lock, and no "tumblers" at all. I'd suspect something having swelled or shifted and having jammed the bolt. Pushing, pulling or prying (gently) might take pressure off the bolt and permit it to move.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 27 at 0:06
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    The scratches suggest that someone has tried to access the lock more directly by pulling the left-hand nail and swiveling the escutcheon plate out of the way, recently enough that the finish wasn't repaired... Which might not have helped a lot, depending on the design of this particular lock. Speaking as part-time locksmith, I'm not sure how to talk you through diagnosing/bypassing this; it's something I would do by touch.
    – keshlam
    Feb 27 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Bit-key locks of this sort often have a fairly simple mechanisms. In the very simplest, there is simply a linkage to or notch in the lock bolt which the bit (the part at the top of the key) pushes one way. There may be obstructions ("wards") which require specific areas of the key to be cut away so it can rotate fully, which is why there is a notch in the bit ... but basic locks may have shipped with a notched key despite having no wards at all.

Those simple locks were easy to pick, or to open with a "skeleton key", so fancier mechanisms were developed. It is possible you have a simple lever-mechanism lock, where part of the bit lifts a spring-loaded piece to release the bolt while other parts of the bit engage with the bolt to extend or retract it. I wouldn't expect to see anything more complicated than that in most furniture, especially given the simplicity of that key (assuming it's the right key).

In most locks of this sort, the key makes a complete turn one way to extend the bolt and a complete turn the other way To retract it again. If the key is not making a complete turn in either direction I would suspect that something is stuck.

I think the first thing Is suggest an amateur try is to turn the key as far as it goes one way, continue to apply gentle turning pressure, and rap the front of the cabinet at and around the lock. If you're just dealing with stickiness or dust, that may shake things free. Probably the direction to try is the one in which the key rotates less, but alternating may also help free things up.

If that doesn't do it... You may indeed have the wrong key and be running into wards or levers. Or it may just be stuck worse. Or key and/or lock may be worn, or there may be random dirt in the lock. (Some kids try to feed machinery...)

(This touch keyboard is going to drive me mad yet... OK, I hear you all, "too late!")

((Late thought: Sometimes the problem is that stuff inside the desk has shifted and is pressing against the back of the door, binding the lock bolt. If so, thumping it as above may help, but so might tipping the whole cabinet back. You might have to dismount the upper cabinet to do this safely, though; often the two are designed to come apart for moving and if so that isn't really a structural joint.))

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