I'm having an old sewing machine with a simple lock, for which I can't find the key.

What's the best way to:

  1. Find a good replacement key for it
  2. If it's not possible, pick the lock so that it'll be always open, with no damage to the actual lock.
  3. break the lock open, with minimal damage to the wooden case of the sewing maching.

The key looked like one of these,

enter image description here

unfortunately I don't remember like which.

  • It may help to include a picture of the lock itself.
    – BMitch
    Jun 29, 2011 at 15:30
  • Might want to replace the lock with a knob and latch, so you can still pick the case up by the handle. Shouldn't be much trouble to construct such a thing. At worst, a screen door hook and latch should work. Oct 30, 2017 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


To pick a lock like this, you may be able to simply push a paperclip into the keyhole. If you normally put the key in pointed down, try to find a lever to press up or to the side within the top or side part of the lock.

If you're not able to pick it, then it depends on the design of lock as to whether you'll be able to slide something into a crack to push a spring loaded latch to the side. You may also be able to drill a hole from beneath the machine to access the lock or strike plate where it won't be visible.

Once you have it open, either remove the lock, remove the strike plate, or fix the strike plate so that the lock is not able to catch.

  • +1. Simple old locks like this are usually pretty easy to pick. You may need something stronger than a bent paperclip--find a piece of scrap metal or rod and put a 90 bend in it, then put torque on it while you move it into and out of the hole trying to find the path through the tumblers. More details here: capricorn.org/~akira/home/lockpick Jun 29, 2011 at 18:03
  • If the lock is big enough, the wire from an old coat hanger may work.
    – BMitch
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:13

these types of locks usually have a screw-on face plate that is not part of the lock. if so, i would remove that face plate and destructively remove the lock. then put the face plate back on.

also, removing the face plate may give you enough visibility in to the lock that you could easily pick it.


Many antique sewing machine cabinet drawers had locking mechanisms. The keys tend to be rather small; less than 2 inches long. Depending on the make of the sewing machine, the end of the key that fits into the mechanism could be FLAT (which can often be opened using a very small screw driver), SQUARE (such as for the Wheeler & Wilson #9 Treadle sewing machine), TRIANGULAR or 3-sided, or may have a tooth like you see on a skeleton door key (though much smaller) or a jewelry box key. Shine a light into the key hole to see what shape key is needed. In many cases you can open the drawer with a very small screwdriver. Be sure to do so gently. If it's a square receptacle insert the flat head screw driver so it fits crosswise, (top right corner to bottom left corner). I have seen antique sewing machine keys available on ebay, Etsy, and also on various Face Book groups which feature vintage sewing machine subjects. enter image description here

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