How to Unlock a Cam Lock in Furniture Assembly

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There are three standard sizes of Phillips-head screwdriver tips, from smallest to largest: #1, #2 and #3. The most common Phillips screw is designed for a #2 tip. If a screwdriver or tip is loose in the cam, try a #3 tip. Using an undersized tip can easily strip a cam.

While assembling furniture, you may find that you made an assembly or cam lock fastener installation mistake. Perhaps you incorrectly connected furniture pieces together or inserted the cam or cam pin into a hole incorrectly. When this happens, the only way to separate the furniture pieces, or remove and then reinstall the cam and pin, is by unlocking the cam lock. As the cam locks with a simple turn, unlocking it requires little beyond reversing this action.


Step 1

Select a screwdriver that best fits the slotted or Phillips-head recess on the top of the cam. Position the tip securely into the cam.

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Step 2

Turn the handle of the screwdriver counterclockwise to turn the cam within its hole. Turn until the cam stops. You may need to turn it 90 to 220 degrees. If you meet resistance as soon as you try to turn the cam, try turning clockwise instead.

Step 3

Pull one piece of furniture away from the other to confirm that you unlocked the cam lock.



Irene A. Blake

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.