Removing Stainless Cam Locks

Jeffrey Brian Airman

It's possible to remove stainless steel cam locks from cabinet and furniture drawers without causing damage. Cam locks are key-operated metal cylinder locks with a latch or cam on the end. The latch turns into the locking position as you twist the cylinder. A key change may require you to remove old cam locks to make way for replacements. Take out furniture cam locks carefully so you can reuse the lock and drawer when you are finished.

Most file cabinets have one or more cam locks.
  1. Unlock the stainless cam lock with the original key. Pull out the drawer blocking access to the rear of the cam lock and set it aside. Some tracks have locking plastic levers that you must fully compress to completely remove a drawer.

  2. Loosen the fastener holding the perpendicular latch onto the end of the cam lock with a Phillips screwdriver or hex wrench. Remove the fastener and latch from the end of the cam lock completely and set the two pieces aside together.

  3. Pull out the retainer clip if there is one between the cam lock and the backside of the furniture. Wiggle the cam lock side to side as you pull the clip with your fingers or a pair of pliers.

  4. Push the stainless steel cam lock out toward the key end. Twist the cam lock side to side gently if it does not slide out right away. Reattach the latch and fastener to the removed cam lock.