Grandfather Clock Key

Grandfather clock key - Premier Clocks

Grandfather clocks have been popular for a long time because of their elegance. The long case, chimes and the pendulum are of wonderful significance and keep being in trend. A grandfather clock not only is seen as an object of respect, allure and authority but it also is an art piece. One of the most important parts of a grandfather clock is the mechanism and in order to protect it, many of them will have a grandfather clock door.


What Is a Grandfather Clock Key?

As many other valuable piece of furniture, grandfather clocks come with a door that can be locked. A grandfather clock key is a part of a clock that is used to open the door in order to get access to the mechanism, pendulum and weights.Most clocks will have such option.


What Is the Key for on a Grandfather Clock?

The purpose of a grandfather clock key depends on when a clock was made. Many antique grandfather clocks have locks with keys that were merely placed for decorative purposes.

While most modern grandfather clocks use locks to protect the movement. You will need a correct key to open the door for maintenance. For example, in order to wind a chain-driven grandfather clock, you will need to unlock a door with a clock key.


Are All Grandfather Clock Keys the Same?

Grandfather clock keys are not the same and do not match any grandfather clock. So if you misplace or lose a grandfather clock key, you will need to think how to unlock the door. In this case, you have a few options that we will discuss further.


How Do You Open a Grandfather Clock Without a Key?

To whatever reason you need to open a door without a grandfather clock key, you can replace a key, replace a lock, try to open with alternative methods or get help from a locksmith.


Option 1. Grandfather Clock Key Replacement

If you are missing a clock key, you can get a replacement. Getting a new key should be relatively an easy task.

First, you will need to determine what kind of a door key you have. This can be done by searching online. Most likely, you will be able to recognise what key you had by looking at the images.

If you are able to measure the length of the key hole, it could help with the search. Once it is settle, you can search for the clock key online by yourself.

Also, if you know the producer of your grandfather clock, you can contact them or their official dealers, check their web page, and whether they sell keys.

Another option is to contact the retailer from which you got your grandfather clock and ask for a replacement. Depending on company business, some retailers sell the keys and others can provide this service for free.

How Do You Know What Kind of a Grandfather Clock Key Is Needed?

In most cases, grandfather clocks have a skeleton clock key.

Keys for Modern Grandfather Clocks

The best way for searching is by the manufacturer name. For example, "Howard Miller grandfather clock key", "Ridgeway grandfather clock key", etc. Most producers use the same type of a clock key for their grandfather clocks. Read a few descriptions and you should be able to tell which key is similar to the one you had. Then purchasing is the only thing left to do.

How Much Does a New Grandfather Clock Key Cost?

A new grandfather clock key costs around US$25-30 but a regular price can range from US$8 + taxes to US$200 depending on the manufacturer and the material (brass, steal, etc.). 

Keys for Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks

You can purchase a door key for your Howard Miller Grandfather Clock here.


Option 2. Replace a Lock of Your Grandfather Clock

If you are unable or just simply do not want to replace a clock key, another option for you is to change a lock of your grandfather clock. New locks will come together with a clock key.

This option is easier in a sense of searching but it will be more time consuming with installation and might require a help from a locksmith.


Option 3. Open a Grandfather Clock with Alternative Methods

We will provide a few instructions on how to open a grandfather clock without a key. But we would like to point out that this is a temporary solution and if you would like to keep your grandfather clock closed, you should consider the other options provided.

Also, you should note that some grandfather clocks are easier to open than others. For example, to unlock Howard Miller grandfather clocks that were made in the XX century might be less challenging than the modern clocks.

Paper Clips.The trick is to fit the paper clip into the lock mechanism, especially for older grandfather clocks. It needs to be bent into a 90-degree angle to apply pressure on the latch, to force an opening.

Nail File.To do this successfully, you will have to find a nail file with a curved tip. Put the curved tip at the top of the nail file into the keyhole. The key (no pun intended) to effectively unlocking the clock is to move the nail file in a clockwise and anti-clockwise motion repeatedly. This will also help to position the nail file in the keyhole properly. It might seem difficult, but with a bit of patience and persistence, it will work. 

Allen Wrench.The first step in using this method is by inserting the wrench into the lock and applying pressure until you are confident of the movement of the lever. Then you move the wrench in a back-and-forth or up-and-down motion. By doing the movement repeatedly, there should be a ‘resistance’ in the bolt. If you notice there is no resistance whatsoever, then it could signify that the spring inside the lock is damaged. You will need the assistance of a locksmith if that happens. 

Wire Hangers.A wire coat hanger is malleable enough to be twisted into a hook. You will have to be careful with a hanger while twisting so as not to injure your hand. We recommend you use a plier to bend the coat hanger to a 90-degree angle. After that, insert the hanger end into the lock and twist in a side to side motion, similar to the way you’d use a key. 


Option 4. Get a Locksmith

Getting a service of a locksmith might be a good idea. A professional will provide the best solution to unlocking a grandfather clock without a key. This will decrease the chance of damaging a grandfather clock.

A professional will investigate the grandfather clock door and help you with a new key replacement. They will get the measurements and determine what kind of grandfather clock key you need.

It might seem that calling a locksmith is costly but in overall experience, it will be the opposite. In many cases, when people try to unlock a grandfather clock with alternative methods or when trying to replace locks by themselves, they end up doing some damages to a timepiece.

5 Responses

Ezra King
Ezra King

May 08, 2024

Years ago my son changed the time by moving the hands on my grandfather clock . the clock just ticks now, How much woud it cod to fix ?

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

June 13, 2023

Hello Vito!

It’s possible to find a key for an old grandfather clock on ebay or antique stores. Though, it might be easier to replace the lock all together.

Best wishes,
Premier Clocks


June 13, 2023

I bought a 2nd hand grandfathers clock and I can’t open the door open I think the key is broken where can I get an ethan allen grand fathers clock key I tried ethan allen but they haven’t made it in at least 20 yrs

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

March 05, 2023

Hello Irene! Thank you for contacting us. At this time, Premier Clocks do not sell key replacement.

Best wishes,
Premier Clocks

Irene Gilliam and
Irene Gilliam and

March 05, 2023

I need a new key for my grandfather clock, how much is it going to cost me? 1255 Cowell Farm Rd, Washington. NC. 27889

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