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Locksmithing/SCHWAB 5000 combo file cabinet safe


Unable to open safe with combo. I've had this safe for almost 15 years sitting in the garage because its too heavy to get an army to move it elsewhere. Hubby and I are clearing and purging in preparation for a move. I removed all content from it and closed file cabinet drawer(s) in hopes that the combo would open it up, first attempt in 15 yrs. Well maybe I'm not rotating/spinning combo pattern correctly.
combo is 40R, 30L, 20R...Please advise correct order or a tech in the MD/DC/VA area that can assist with opening.
Thanks for your assistance in advance.

Hi Dana,

There are ONLY three reasons a safe lock won't open, in order they are:

1.   Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors
2.   Incorrect combination, wrong numbers
3.   mechanical problems.

In this case (assuming the numbers are correct), you are dialing it backwards.    The correct dialing sequence for the lock on the container are:

4 times LEFT to the first number, 40
3 times RIGHT to the second number, 30
2 times LEFT to the third number, 20
1 time RIGHT until the dial stops - should be between 80-90

Note:   Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the INDIVIDUAL number as it arrives at the index mark.

Problem area when dialing - after you have dialed four times to the first number "40", when you reverse directions the second number "30" comes up real quick - in fact in 10 numbers - THAT IS the first time for that number.   DO NOT count revolutions of the dial.

If you still can't get it open, you may need a safe tech to check it out,   Check your yellow pages under "safes & vaults".   If you don't have one, let me know your zip code and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

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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