How to Open an Old Sears Safe

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You should be able to open an old safe if you know the combination.
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Sears sells safes of many brands, but a safe bearing the Sears logo is itself a collector's item, let alone what's possibly locked inside of it. It wouldn't be much of a safe if it were easy to open, but if you have the combination, that shouldn't be a problem. If you don't know the combination, you may be able to recover it using the serial number and model number of the safe, but there's no guarantee, especially for an old safe. As a last resort, you may need to break into the safe, and that's a job for an experienced locksmith who probably won't perform the service unless you can prove you're the owner.

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You Know the Combination

Older combination safes work much like the combination locks that high school students use for their lockers, but the sequence is a bit different. Combinations have three numbers, and the sequence is:

  1. Set the dial to 0.

  2. Turn the dial clockwise four times and then continue on to the first number.

  3. Turn the dial counterclockwise twice past the second number and stop on the third time.

  4. Turn the dial clockwise once past the third number and stop on that number on the second turn.

  5. Turn the dial to 0 and the safe should open.

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If this doesn't work, try reversing the directions. Begin with counterclockwise turns and then turn clockwise and finally turn counterclockwise again before setting the dial to 0.

You Know the Serial Number

The safe manufacturer keeps a record of the original combination and will provide it to the safe owner upon presentation of the model number, serial number and proof of ownership. The model number and serial number should be imprinted on the door or on the back of the safe. Unfortunately, Sears, Roebuck and Co. is not the big, bustling enterprise it once was and may no longer keep track of its safe records.

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If contacting the company turns out to be fruitless, try a local locksmith, who may have access to the database in which the combination is stored. You'll still need to provide proof of ownership. If you see a keyhole on the front of the safe, the locksmith may be able to manufacture a key that will open it. If not, it may be necessary to break into the safe.

Breaking Into a Sears Safe

Some locksmiths are excellent safe crackers and can open one by listening to the barrels click as the dial is turned. Sears safes are old and have no electronic locking mechanisms, so if you can find a locksmith with the proper skills and you can document ownership, it's open sesame.

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Not many locksmiths have these skills, however, and have to resort to techniques that an ordinary human would use — that is, brute force. The most efficient method is to drill through the lock mechanism, which has to be done by a skilled pro who knows where to drill. The locksmith may drill straight through the lock pack — which will have to be replaced — or drill right next to it and use a fiber optic cable to observe the movement of the drums as the dial is turned. In the second instance, the hole can be plugged with a steel bar cut flush to the metal, and the safe can be used again.

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references

Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.

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