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How to Replace Lost File Cabinet Keys

Irene A. Blake

The loss of the security keys for the lock on a file cabinet can interrupt a workday in unexpected ways. Most manufacturers design file cabinets with safety features to prevent bypassing the lock. As a result, key replacement is often the only way to re-open the drawers and continue uninterrupted business operations. Whether you own a vertical or lateral file cabinet, the process for acquiring replacement keys isn’t difficult. Typically, it only requires contacting the cabinet manufacturer for assistance.

  1. Write down the brand name, model name and style (vertical or lateral) of your file cabinet. Include the serial and model numbers and the number of cabinet drawers.

  2. Call the cabinet's manufacturer and provide your information to the customer service representative. Telephone numbers can be found in the literature included with the file cabinet.

  3. Order the replacement keys (if available) and wait for the keys to arrive via expedited or ground shipment. If the cabinet manufacturer doesn’t stock replacement keys and instead refers you to a separate lock manufacturer, contact the lock manufacturer for assistance.

  4. Tip

    If replacement keys aren't available (for example, the manufacturer no longer ships your part, the part is out of stock or you have a custom file cabinet and lock), contact a lock key replacement vendor or locksmith for assistance. Provide your information to determine if the vendor or locksmith has the correct type of replacement key or can make you a key. If the vendor or locksmith can't provide replacement keys or doesn't have a key template to make a replacement, ask the vendor or locksmith whether onsite services to make a key to fit the lock or pick the lock to access files or other stored items are available. If you're dealing with lost keys in an office or school where the maintenance and upkeep of the cabinets is handled by a business office or support unit, contact that office or unit for replacement keys.


    Never pry open your file cabinet or pick the lock, as doing so can void any manufacturer's warranties or permanently damage the cabinet or lock.