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How To Replace a Mailbox Lock in Under 5 Minutes

Although we normally focus on Technology, I love practical DIY tricks so I thought I’d share this little adventure I had a few days ago.

Recently I moved into an older home and found the mailbox key had issues opening the lock. After a few weeks, the mailbox key refused to even open it. Great! No matter what I tried (graphite powder and spray included), after a few days of not being able to get my mail, I knew it was time to replace the lock.

I started the adventure by calling my local post office which was a waste of time. They suggested a local locksmith and actually hung up on me. Yelp pointed me at a local locksmith who quoted me $250 for an onsite replacement plus an additional $150 an hour after 30 minutes.

So yeah, you can guess the path we’re gonna take on this one! Time to get medieval on the mailbox lock!

Thankfully I have a cordless drill so I grabbed a bit that fit nicely into the key hold of the lock. The main goal here is not damaging the housing holding the lock so don’t use a lot of pressure when drilling into the lock. Just drill straight and apply consistent pressure.

Note: If you’re not the adventurer / handy type or if you don’t have a drill, simply wait for you mail carrier. They will have access to the back of the mailbox and you can perform the steps below from inside the box. It’s not nearly as fun but… that is another option.


Once you drill through the entire lock mechanism, the mailbox door should open easily.


Slide off the lock bar and metal clip holding the lock mechanism against the door. In some cases the lock nut may still be attached to the lock. Use a wrench to take off the nut (although in my case, the drill took care of that for me).


Without the clip holding the lock in place, popup the entire mechanism and bring it to a local locksmith. In my case, although the lock was 15 year old he had an exact match that cost me just $12. Not too bad.


Once you have the new lock, slide it into the lock housing the reattach it in a locked configuration (lock bar out).


Screw on the nut and you’re done!


The new lock I purchased was a bit sticky. I solved this with a little Graphite Powder. Amazon has it listed for ~$5 however I found it at a local HW store for under $2 the next day.


In all, the entire job took no longer than 5 minutes (not counting the trip to the locksmith). Not bad considering the quote from the locksmith $250. I’ve always enjoyed DIY projects especially the ones with a drill involved… It’s a great bonding opportunity with my son and great way to show with a little work, almost any job is possible with a little time and patience.

3 Responses to How To Replace a Mailbox Lock in Under 5 Minutes

  1. Simon H August 14, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    I like it. We dont have those mailboxes but just started wireing our whole house with CAT6 including HDMI over CAT6 and its clear that technology and DIY often go hand in hand. In my case followed by a spot of first aid.

  2. Rich C June 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    That gets the job done! I did find a good site for buying locks. They were inexpensive and good quality. It is they have other DIY items also.

  3. Ryan September 23, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Sadly this is not an option for me. The mail person actually threatened to call the police and have me arrested when I tried to follow the “wait for mailman” part. Despite having an ID which listed the exact residence which matched the box I required to be opened. The postal office itself told me if I opened it by any means other than my assigned key that mail would no longer be sent to me, and I would have to start picking it up via the postal office branch. Then told me they could have one made for me in “as little as two weeks” and they would hold my mail for me at the local branch, and I could start going to pick it up all the way out there. Every day. And it would only cost me 150 dollars. Entirely bullshit. The postal service is taking their near federal mandated monopoly on daily mail service to a nice half assed level.

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