How To Cut A Lock Off Of A Storage Unit (Best Ways)

Have you lost the keys to the lock you placed on your storage unit and are unable to get inside? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us and below we will cover how to get right back in by cutting off a lock on a storage unit.

Below we will have a few of the most used tools for cutting padlocks and show you the steps on how to do it. You could even try picking the lock if you don’t have any tools handy, but that is a whole different article. For now, let’s stick with cutting the storage unit lock off.

Before Cutting the Lock

Before diving deeper into this how-to guide, we should probably look at a couple of things first.

Check with the storage facility and see what their policy on cutting locks is. They will probably want to be notified if you plan on doing something like this first.

Also, if done incorrectly, some of these methods could damage the storage unit and that might cost you. So please, make sure that you are allowed to do this first.

Make Sure You’re At The Correct Unit

storage units red

First off, look closely at the storage unit and make sure that you are at the right one. This is for when you have your keys with you, but they simply just aren’t working. Don’t be hasty and check again. This might truly sound silly, but after a long and tiring day, your mind could wander and you might end up in front of the wrong storage unit.

You probably don’t want to be cutting the storage lock to a stranger’s unit. Look at the storage unit’s number, the color of it, or anything that signifies that it’s yours. After this, you could continue with whatever it is that you choose to do with the lock.

Make Sure The Lock Is Working Correctly

Next, you should check if the lock is working correctly. If the keys simply aren’t working, don’t get frustrated. Instead, you should go online and search for the make and model of the lock. Look for any articles on common issues that users have had with that lock and try finding something for your problem. With the amount of information we have at our fingertips nowadays, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a solution.

But, if you have already tried everything you could find and the lock still isn’t opening, then maybe it’s time to think of alternative options.

When You Lose Your Storage Unit Keys

Now, let’s see what can you do when you’ve lost the keys to your storage unit. First, you will need to check with the people working at that storage facility and make sure that you follow their rules and regulations.

Some of them won’t allow you to do something like this yourself. Call the manager or a worker that is on-site and talk to them about your problem. Together you will come up with a solution. The most likely one is that they would cut the lock for you, with your written permission, of course. But, if by chance they allow you to do something like that yourself, let’s teach you how to cut a lock off a storage unit.

Use Bolt Cutters

bolt cutters

The first method is by using bolt cutters to cut the lock. But, before going through with this, you should start by selecting the right tool for the job.

Step 1  – There are different options for a reason. But for the most universal solution, get a pair of 30-inch bolt cutters. They will cut almost all types of locks easily.

Step 2 – You should tilt the cutters a little bit to get the angle just right. Then place them firmly on the metal shackle of the lock.

Step 3 – Get a good grip on the handles and squeeze. The shackle should split in two quite easily. But, this process will require a bit of strength.

And voilà, you have a cut lock on your hands.

Use an Angle Grinder

angle grinder

Next up, is the angle grinder. They are used to cut almost any hard material with precision. And just like the bolt cutters, you need to know which one to use.

Step 1 – First up, selecting the right disc for the task at hand. You should get a grinder that has a 60 grit disc. Along with the correct disc, you should think about your overall safety as well. So, get a pair of gloves and a face shield before continuing.

Step 2 – Take the grinder and firmly grasp it in your hands via the vice-grips. Place it on the lock at the desired position on the shackle.

Step 3 – After positioning the disc on the shackle, turn the grinder on. Put pressure on the lock and after a while, you will slice straight through it. But be careful when nearing the end, so that you don’t accidentally damage the unit.

Using Heat and a Hacksaw


This method will require a bit more. Besides the hacksaw, you will need a propane torch and vise-grips.

Step 1 – Vise-grips are needed so that you can hold the lock in place with them so that your hand isn’t near to the lock while heating and cutting it. Place them at the bottom of the lock and tighten them as hard as you can, ensuring that the lock won’t wiggle around.

Step 2 – Hold the lock by the vise-grips to not get burned. Light up the propane torch and heat the shackle in the place where you will cut. You should do this until the metal of the shackle turns red hot. (1)

Step 3 – Now let the lock cool down for about 2-3 minutes. But don’t use water, since that will only strengthen the steel again.

Step 4 – After letting it cool down, get a fine-toothed hacksaw, which is meant for cutting metal. Holding the lock firmly by the vise-grips with your non-dominant hand, place the hacksaw on the area of the shackle that you heated. The hacksaw should be in your dominant hand. Apply firm pressure and start pulling the saw back and forth until you cut through the lock completely. (2)

Try a Locksmith Before Considering Cutting the Lock Off

picking lock

As a last resort, or you simply don’t possess the tools required, or you’re unsure of yourself, you could call in a locksmith to help you out.

Locksmiths have completed training and will be able to unlock every type of lock easily. Unlike the methods before, which will make the lock unusable again, the locksmith won’t destroy it. They have tools that will open the lock without even damaging it. So, if this sounds like a great plan to you, look online for a good locksmith and give them a call.

Wrapping Up

That marks the end of this how-to guide on cutting open locks. If you tried one of our ways, let us know how you did. And maybe some of you will think of other ways that we haven’t mentioned here. Feel free to let our readers know about those alternatives down in the comments. Hopefully, next time something like this happens to you, you will be able to quickly resolve it without much hassle.

(1) metal –
(2) pressure –

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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