How to Drill Out a Gumball or Candy Machine Lock?

We get this question a lot. "I've lost the keys to my gumball machine...what do I do?" Fortunately, in most cases this is an easy fix...simply drill out the tubular or barrel lock and replace it with a new one. What? Drill out a lock? Don't you need a locksmith to do that? The answer is no! All you need is five to ten minutes and some tools that you likely already have around the house, including:

  • Drill and drill bits (1/4" and 1/8" or smaller)
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Large screw driver (optional)
  • Needle nose pliers or vice grips (optional)

5 Steps to Drill Out a Lock

  1. First, ensure that the gumball/candy machine is on a stable surface so the machine doesn't tip over as you start to drill.
  2. You will need to drill a hole down the center of the lock that is approximately 1/4" deep. If you are not comfortable guesstimating, use a ruler to measure 1/4" on the drill bit and mark it off with masking tape. The tape will serve as a depth guide to make sure you don't drill too deep into the lock and cause more damage to your machine.
  3. Start with the smaller drill bit (1/8" or smaller) and using gentle pressure, drill a starter hole into the center of the lock. Drill approximately 1/4" deep or stop drilling once you've reached the masking tape.
  4. Using the larger drill bit (1/4"), drill a second hole through the initial starter hole. This will destroy the internal parts of the lock and will free it for easy removal. Usually drilling approximately 1/4" deep will free the lock, but for more stubborn locks, you may have to drill slightly deeper to reach the pin that holds the lock to the nut. You may need to insert a screwdriver into the drilled out lock and twist to remove the housing. Needle nose pliers can also help.
  5. Now that your lock is removed, simply replace with your new lock and you are ready to go!

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