How to Open an American Combination Lock

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To re-lock the device, press the shackle into the body of the lock. If it will not slide into the lock, re-enter the combination and try it again.


Keep your combination in a safe place. When storing your lock between uses, keep your combination with the device.

A typical combination lock

Combination locks made by the American Lock Company are popular. The distinctive round locks with black or colorful dials are used to secure lockers, bicycles, sheds and doors. These devices open using a series of three numbers that must be dialed using a precise technique.


Step 1

Combination locks are often used on school lockers.

Find the three-number combination on your lock's packaging and put it in a secure place.

Step 2

The dial on this combination lock is set to "25."

Dial clockwise to the first number, spinning the dial at least three times. For example, if the combination is "25-12-36," turn past "25" three times until the mark at the top of the dial rests on "25."


Step 3

Combination locks can be used with cables.

Note the second number and turn counterclockwise one-and-a-half turns. If the combination is "25-12-36," pass "12" once, then turn another complete revolution.

Step 4

Turn clockwise to the final number. Using the combination "25-12-36," spin directly to "36."

Step 5

Pull downward on the lock, and the left side of its shackle will pull loose. You may have to push up slightly and then pull down.


references & resources

Blair Tindall

Blair Tindall has written professionally since 1998 and is author of "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music" (Grove/Atlantic Press). She has written for "The New York Times," "Sierra," "Business Week" and the "Financial Times." She received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and a Master of Arts in communication from Stanford University.