How to Open a Dial Lock

Dial three numbers in the correct sequence to open a dial lock.
Dial three numbers in the correct sequence to open a dial lock. (Image: Combination Lock image by Mario Ragsac Jr. from

A dial lock is a familiar type of combination lock for securing valuables and, most commonly, school lockers. The dial on the front of the lock is marked with a series of numbers; a hash mark at the top of the lock face marks the positioning point for dialing up the numbers of the combination. Rotating the dial to three different numbers in a sequence--first one direction, then the other, then back the other way--will release the clasp and open the lock.

Spin the dial several times when you want to open the locker, to clear the locking tumblers inside. For this example, the dial lock combination shall be 3-27-14.

Turn the dial three complete rotations to the right and stop on the first number of the combination, which is 3 in this example.

Turn the dial to the left, passing the first combination number, 3 (you'll go a full revolution), then stopping the dial on the second number, which is 27 in this example.

Turn the dial to the right to stop on the third combination number, which is 14. (Do not go all the way around).

Pull down on the lock body to release it from one side of the U-shaped shackle, unlocking the mechanism.

Tips & Warnings

  • Write down the three-digit combination number to the lock and store it in a safe place in case you forget the number.

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