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Locksmithing/York combination safe


I have a small York combination safe but do not have the combination to open it. What would be the best way to try to open it?  I have contacted a local locksmith company to look at this safe.  Any suggestions for them on how to open this safe?

Hi Patrick,

First off, I NEVER recommend using a locksmith company to work on or open safes.    Lack of knowledge, training and tools can easily result in a ruined safe.

Secondly, if I have to provide "suggestions" for them, on how to open the safe, then as stated above - they probably shouldn't be working on it!

Let me put it this way - Would YOU take YOUR car to a mechanic, to have the oil changed, if they didn't know what they were doing and/or the result of their changing your oil would (or could) result in possible damage to your engine???     If the answer is no, then similarly, you shouldn't be using ANYONE who doesn't know what they are doing.

If you brought the safe into my shop, I would immediately expect ANY of my safe techs to have a plan to open your safe without damaging it, to recover and/or reset the combination, AND leave you with a totally repaired and operating container that was undamaged.

Cost is another issue.    Generally individuals or companies that shouldn't be working on safes are going to quote either an hourly charge or an open ended charge.    They may also have hidden fees like charging for every drill bit used, etc. etc.
Many times they will have separate fees for opening the safe, service of the safe, and any repairs to the safe.
You start off with an idea of what you think a reasonable charge should be, and wind up paying 3 to 4 times the amount!

I personally like "FLAT" fees.    Because I know what I'm doing, I can tell you up front exactly how much you will be paying for labor.    With the exception of parts, which I wouldn't know if your safe needs something replaced until the safe is opened.   Generally we attempt to be as damage free as possible so that we don't have to replace ANY parts.

Bottom line - in answer to your real question - "What would be the best way to open the safe?"   My answer is that you need a trained safe technician, who knows what they are doing.

Recommendation - check your yellow pages under "Safes & Vaults" for companies in your area.   You can discuss opening options and fees with these companies to see if any are satisfactory.   If you can't find one, let me know where you and the safe are located (zip code) and I'll see if I know anyone in your area that I might recommend.

As the safe is "small", you can possibly save some money by taking the safe in to the safe company to have it worked on there.    Field work is generally more expensive than shop work.

Hope this gives you some food for thought.    Feel free to discuss opening options with your "locksmith".    If the price is reasonable - THE WHOLE PRICE - and you are satisfied with their plans, then have them do the work.     If not then keep on looking.

Hope this helps,


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service Area is Northern California (Fresno to Oregon and Western Nevada)

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