How To Open A Singer Sewing Machine

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Cover Image: How to Open a Singer Sewing Machine Case Lid Without a Key

Some of you might remember that really old Singer sewing machine that your grandmothers used back in the day. You probably didn’t understand how important and expensive those things were back in the day, and some people who inherited these from their grandmothers are rather tempted to throw them away.

The truth is that an old Singer machine can be really expensive, and if you don’t want to sell it because it’s a family heirloom, you can surely put it to good use, because those things were really durable, so chances are your works to this very day. But if you don’t have the key to open its wooden case lid, how are you going to use it? Don’t sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Opening a Singer Sewing Machine Case Lid Without a Key

Naturally, having a key would be the best way to open the lid that unveils the classic Singer, a vintage sewing machine that made sensations back in the day. But if you don’t have one, there is still a way for you to open it. However, in order for this to make any sense, we first have to explain how the locking mechanism looks like.

antique Singer sewing machine

Be Careful

Whatever you do, don’t try to hack and slash any part of this locking mechanism or the lid itself, because it really is a masterpiece and a product with integrity that should be preserved.

If you were to remove the locking mechanism from the machine completely, you would see that it has an oblong hole in the middle, which is very different compared to what you know a classic keyhole looks like. This hole is where the key to this type of case would normally fit.

Look for the Bits

The entire locking mechanism should have two bits sticking out (this is something noticeable if the lock would be completely removed from the casing). They are like small metal hooks, each one of them facing a different direction. When the wooden case is locked, each of these tiny hooks goes under a special slot located at the end of the base, keeping the lid in a locked position.


When unlocked, the two hooks come closer to one another instead of sliding into the aforementioned slots. Basically, the key that’s compatible with this locking mechanism is designed to operate these two tiny metal hooks to open and close the case as needed.


Singer sewing machine

Some of these locks have an outer casing hole that’s bigger, others will have a smaller one. Regardless of the bentwood case in question, the way to open the lock is similar. In order to open the lock mechanism, you have to:

  • Examine the keyhole using a source of lights that could actually grant you visual access to its shape. For most people, the flashlight on their phone does the trick, but you can use a regular flashlight or whatever helps you see and get a sense of what you’re dealing with.
  • Look into your arsenal to find a screwdriver that would fit inside that hole as much as possible. If you don’t have an exact match, you can also use a screwdriver that’s narrower compared to the width of the hole itself.
  • Position the screwdriver so that the tip is inside the hole on the locking mechanism and start turning it clockwise. Depending on how old/rusty the lock is or how well the screwdriver fits inside, this might require a little bit of elbow grease. However, you should still be careful with forcing it too much.

man's hand holding a Screwdriver in white background

  • If you notice that the screwdriver is a good fit and the lock still won’t turn clockwise, try turning it the other way. If you’re doing everything correctly, one of these two things should work. If not, maybe you need help from someone with higher strength.
  • You can also try to grease the lock a little bit using a few drops of thin oil. The best way to do so is to apply some oil on the tip of the screwdriver and rotate it inside the hole for a bit. This will allow the mechanism to soak in the oil.


Having a vintage Singer sewing machine is something that you should be proud of. Some collectors would pay decent money to own one of these, but maybe you don’t really want to sell it if it’s a family heirloom. However, the chances of inheriting the key are sometimes minimal, and it would be a real shame if you forced the case open to gain access to the machine.

Thankfully, even the oldest Singer machine locking mechanisms aren’t that complicated to figure out, so even if you’re key-less, you can always use the method described above to try and open it. It’s fairly simple, requires some brute force at best, and you probably have the tools you need to perform the operation at your disposal already.

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