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How to drill out a lock on a gumball/candy machine

Question: I’ve lost the keys to my gumball / candy vending machine. How can I open a gumball machine without the key?

Answer: Simple, drill out the lock.

The following instructions apply to drilling out most tubular OR barrel style locks.

You'll need the following tools and supplies:

  1. Power drill - electric or cordless
  2. 2 x drill bits - a sharp but regular size 1/4 inch drill bit and a 1/8 inch or smaller bit
  3. Masking tape (optional)
  4. Ruler (optional)
  5. Large flat head screwdriver (optional)
  6. Needle nose pliers or vice grips (optional)

Time required is approximately 5 to 10 minutes.


Step #1 - Ensure that you your gumball / candy vending machine is in a stable and secure location for the drilling process.  We want to avoid having the machine tipping over and possibly breaking the globe.

Step #2 (optional) - You will be drilling a hole down the center of the lock that is 1/4 inch deep. For each drill bit, use a ruler to measure 1/4 inch depth starting from the tip of the bit. Wrap a piece of tape marking off  a 1/4 inch depth on the bit (see photo below). This tape will be your depth guide and will ensure that you don’t drill too deep into the lock causing damage to internal parts your gumball / candy vending machine.


Step #3 - Start with the small drill bit (1/8 inch or smaller) this makes the project go much faster, and bore a starter hole into the center of the lock. Drill approximately 1/4 inch deep. Stop drilling when you reach the edge of the masking tape as you want to avoid going to deep and possibly damaging the center rod that the lock is screwed into.

Step #4 - Finally, using the larger 1/4 drill bit, bore a second large hole through the initial hole, this will destroy the internal parts of the lock and will free it for removal. On your initial attempt try not drill beyond 1/4 inch depth. Thus will usually free up most locks. In some cases you may need to drill a little deeper (1/8 inch) to reach the black pin that holds the lock to the nut. Note: some locks are stubborn and you may need to insert a screwdriver into the drilled out lock and twist to remove the housing, needle nose pliers can also aid the process. Now you should have access to your gumball / candy vending machine.

Video Instructions: 


Click here to shop for replacement Lock and Key Set for gumball and candy machines.