Have you ever arrived at the gym, office or school only to realize that you cannot access your locker because you forgot your correct key at home?
Basic lock picking is almost a human right of passage and it feels good to know you can access something – even if you lost the key or forgot the combination.
Just a note, losing a spare key can be very frustrating — make sure and take some time to create copies and keep them in a personal survival kit like this one.
Learning how to pick a lock is a skill set that can come in handy and prevent unnecessary damage when you need to gain access discreetly.
In this article, we’ll be going over how to pick several different types of locks and have videos showing the steps in detail.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 1 How Easy Is It to Pick a Lock?
- 2 Is LockPicking Illegal?
- 3 How to Pick a Padlock with a Lock Pick Set
- 4 How Do You Pick a Padlock with a Bobby Pin?
- 5 Guide to Picking a Lock Using a Screwdriver
- 6 Can I Tell If My Padlock Has Been Picked?
- 7 Guide to Pick a Lock on Door
- 7.1 Picking a Door Knob with a Lockpick Set
- 7.2 Guide to Paperclip Lock Picking
- 7.3 How to Pick a Lock with a Credit Card
- 7.4 How to Remove a Locked Doorknob from the Outside
- 7.5 Can you pick a door with a knife?
- 7.6 How to Pick a Lock Lever Handle
- 7.7 Picking a Deadbolt Lock
- 7.8 Measures To Take if You Suspect Lock Tampering
- 8 How do you unlock a combination lock when you forgot the combination?
- 9 Lock Picking is a Useful Skill but Only do it on Your Own Lock
- 10 Apply These Lockpicking Tips Today
How Easy Is It to Pick a Lock?
Your first lock may be tough.
A key works by pushing a pin and spring located within a door lock or padlock in a predefined pattern.
The key is inserted and turned clockwise to lose tension in the tiny springs to unlock.
Lock picking involves a variety of tools to manipulate the pins and springs to gain entry when the correct key isn’t available.
Let’s be clear that the following skills apply to traditional door lock and padlock only. Picking the locks of a biometric door lock that requires facial recognition or fingerprints for activation, is impossible.
On top of this, some locks are connected to silent alarm systems that trigger whenever someone is attempting through brute force.
Lock picking requires consistent practice to gain confidence and experience. It’s also a fun experience, thanks to the thrill when you finally see the door knob or tumbler lock open.
More helpful reading:
Is LockPicking Illegal?
Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia have a tough stance towards the possession of lockpicks due to burglary concerns. The best option is training at home using household items like bobby pins, screwdrivers, and other sharp objects.
Because lockpicking can raise eyebrows, it’s normally best to learn how to pick without disclosing to friends and neighbors (and avoid the label of lock picker). It may be a good idea to keep your lockpicks out of sight and avoid posting videos of your lockpicking attempts.
Can You Buy a Lock Picking Set at Home Depot?
A set of lock picks, online or at a store, doesn’t require any permits to qualify for purchase. The prices range from $25-$100 depending on the lock picks’ and lock picking tools’ brand and product features.
How to Pick a Padlock with a Lock Pick Set
1. Pick among tension wrenches, the small metal with a 90-degree tip bend, and gently plug it. Your tools holds the cylinder locks firmly to prevent movement when manipulating the key pins.
2. Choose a lockpick with a rugged tip, the rake pick, to enter keyhole and plug, while maintaining a grip on the tools. Gently push the rake in and out to move the pins and springs upwards for 10 seconds or less.
3. Take out the rake then turn the tension tools clockwise and your padlock will open in about 10 seconds.
Tip Guide to Optimize Lockpick Set
1. Use a rugged lockpick to engage all the pins. A flat lockpick cannot push the spring-loaded pins attached to the cylinder.
2. Consider practicing with a transparent padlock for a clear picture of how the lock picks engage with the cylinder and key pins.
How Do You Pick a Padlock with a Bobby Pin?
1. Using your fingernail, removing the rubber tips create a bobby pin tension wrench. Plug an inch of the single pin then push it to the side gently to form a bent tip. This acts as your lock picks to manipulate the key pins.
2. Take another bobby pin without rubber tips. To shape into your tension tool, push it inside the key hole and bend to form a 90 degree angle. Turn the tools clockwise and maintain it at that position.
3. To pop the padlock open, the spring-loaded key pins need to disengage from the cylinder. For a minute or so, people need the improvised lockpick to push each key pin upwards progressively until the cylinder can rotate.
4. Similar to paperclips, this process used to improvise a lockpick and tension tools. Use a pair of sturdy clips to avoid metal breaking inside the padlock’s cylinder.
Guide to Picking a Lock Using a Screwdriver
There are two approaches you can deploy when using a screwdriver to lock pick a padlock.
Safety Pin & Screwdriver Way
1. Your device is a safety pin and a pair of wire cutter pliers. Cut off the clasp to improvise a tension tool to maintain the cylinder in a firm position.
2. Plug the improvised tension tool with both pointed ends facing the keyhole. Push it inside as far as you can. It’s important to use a strong pin that won’t bend or break inside your padlock’s cylinder.
3. Take a small flathead screwdriver and plug inside the keyhole. Turn it like a key and the padlock will open instantly as the spring-loaded pins disengage.
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Pin Extraction Way
Fair warning, people, this method causes permanent damage to your padlock and consumes more time compared to the safety pin approach. You’ll need a hand file for this task.
1. Take your padlock and lean it on its right side. Get your hand file and grind it against the left side until the key pin inside become visible.
2. You’ll need a screwdriver to disengage the spring-loaded pins from the cylinder. Start by pushing each pin downwards until they pop out.
3. After the pins and springs fall, plug your flathead screwdriver into the keyhole. Turn it sideways to unlock.
4. Do not try again, it’s impossible to restore a padlock after lock picking it using this method.
Can I Tell If My Padlock Has Been Picked?
Here are some red flags that notify you someone was going through your locker or storage without consent.
1. Visible marks on and around the keyhole
Scratches around the key hole are a sign that someone used an improvised lockpick. Based on scratches that appear when bending metal to a 90-degree angle, you can tell that someone improvised a tool to apply tension.
Through their role in positioning the cylinder, screwdrivers also leave marks around the key hole. The twisting and turning required to disengage the cylinder leaves marks on the keyhole.
2. Discarded improvised lockpicks
Household items are the most preferred tools for improvised lock picking. With their cheap prices and subtlety, petty thieves use such household items. However, only a handful of crook lock pickers remember to clean up.
It’s advisable to take pictures of the improvised lock picking tools and preserve them until the police can collect them as evidence.
3. Missing items in your storage
Some crooks carry a lockpick set when raiding storage facilities. Premium lockpicks don’t leave marks on the keyhole because they’re designed to slide inside just like a legit key. Also, they are careful not to leave the lock picking tools lying around the crime scene.
The best solution is taking inventory to identify the missing items from your storage. You’ll also have to request access to the CCTV footage to spot the culprit.
Guide to Pick a Lock on Door
Extreme temperatures cause some door locks tend to expand, causing the spring loaded pins to engage the cylinder. Below are tried and tested methods you can use to pick a door lock.
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Picking a Door Knob with a Lockpick Set
1. Seek consent from the property’s owner before lock picking to avoid arrest.
2. Plug tension tool into keyhole. While maintaining your tension tool in the same position, turn it gently until you feel the plug rotating then stop and get out a rake from your lockpick set.
3. By pushing the rake back and forth inside the keyhole and turning the tension wrench simultaneously, your rake enables pin alignment inside. Within a minute, the door will unlock as your rake aligns the lock pins just like an original key.
Guide to Paperclip Lock Picking
This method works the same way as using a lockpick set, however, it requires some patience. An improvised rake lacks the rugged teeth required to align spring-loaded pins located inside. On the other hand, consistent practice can help your lock picking within minutes.
1. Bend a strong paperclip into a tension wrench to plug the tip and forcing it to a 90-degree angle. Turn gently and maintain this position.
2. A rake requires rugged teeth, and for improvisation, use a bobby pin. Slide your rake inside the keyhole and push it rapidly, while gently rotating using your tension wrench.
3. Keep pushing your rake while twisting the lock gently to fully rotate and align its pins simultaneously.
Can you pick a lock with a credit card?
Yes. However, this method is only effective on doors with a simple knob and a slanted or spring latch. If pushing it with your card, the slant should be facing you. Here’s a guide to judging the plausibility of a card to do the lock works.
Ensure the lock is not a deadbolt. Deadbolts come with a rod that you can only pull back by lock picking or using a key.
Check the slant on your latch to make sure it faces you. The door hinges should be on the opposite side of the door away from you for the card lock picking method to work.
Make sure there is no molding or metal plates, which make it hard to slide between your door crack to reach the strike plate.
How to Pick a Lock with a Credit Card
Move your card inside the vertical opening between your frame and door. Stick your card in the hole between the door frame and door knob. Now, move it down towards the doorknob. Drive it further while maintaining a ninety-degree slant. To locate the door frame with ease, push back your door with one hand.
Bend your card close to the doorknob. With your card facing you, bend its side against the doorknob until it is nearly touching it. Drive your card further into the opening between your door frame and door.
Tilt your card the opposite way to make your card fall below the slant-angled latch end to drive it back to the door. Open your door fast and release the lock from the opposite side.
Slant on your door and twist the card backwards and forwards to open it. If you still have difficulties opening your door, try reclining against it as you turn the card to and fro several times to add pressure to the latch.
How to Remove a Locked Doorknob from the Outside
Here is how you can gain access to your locked house by picking locks.
Assess the Shank: The mounting screws on the shank of your doorknob are usually hidden. However, you can recognize them by identifying a hole, or small slot inside the shaft.
Introduce an Object: Drive a tool in the slot or hole with the flat edge of a screwdriver, the end of an uncoiled paper clips lock pin or a nailset tip.
Thrust and Pull: As you push your tool, you’ll experience some resistance. Thrust the spring as far as you can with your object in one hand. and the other hand to pull the doorknob.
Bend: Bend your tool if you cannot penetrate through the doorknob. If your efforts do not suffice, spin your doorknob as you push down and bend the tool.
Extract the Rose: Using a flat thin screwdriver, remove the decorative round plate, known as the rose. This helps uncover the mounting screws of your lockset.
Loosen Up and Finish: Using a driver or drill, extract the long mounting screws to separate the doorknob inside, which easily removes both sides from the door.
Can you pick a door with a knife?
Yes, to some extent. Lock picking requires agility and precision, and knives don’t come with these features. However, there are unique techniques to make it work.
Stick and Wiggle
Picking a lock involves two tools: a lock pick that handles pins and a tension wedge, which administers rotational force. In this technique, the knife acts as the pick and tension wrench. Ensure the knife blade is smaller than a keyhole and it should also fit inside without lifting the pins. Stick and wiggle method focuses on bending pins up to the position.
To start, plug your knife deep inside until its tip hits the back of the lock.
Apply a slight twisting force on your knife as though you are turning a key to administer power to the pins. This allows you to lift and fix them along the shear line. The pins will remain at the extent to which a key would raise them.
Start rocking your knife gently upwards and downwards as you slightly move it in and out along the shear line, for around 15 seconds. If your lock resists, you’ll want to restart the procedure by dropping the rotational torque to allow any set pins to drop.
Apply rotational torque once more and try different degrees as you lift the pins and rotate your knife. Lighter knives work best for this method.
Use Some Assistance
This method doesn’t use your knife both as a pick and turning tool. It involves the use of a turning object and another tool as a pick, such as a paperclip or bobby pin. Remember, you’ll need sufficient space on the knife to place your makeshift lock pick.
Start by driving your knife at the base of your keyhole and apply minor rotational torque. Drive your makeshift pick inside. Now, lift your pick until it raises the driver pins slightly before pushing it out.
Your pick will now pull past all the pins. This picking method is called zipping, which intends to hit the pins with sufficient force to extract them. If your lock doesn’t open after 5 robust zips, restart the procedure by discharging rotational torque on your lock. Any set pins will drop, and now, you can apply the force once more. Use varying degrees of torque when twisting your knife.
Shimmy Me Timbers
This bypassing method is the same as picking a lock using a credit card. It only works on the common slanted-latch locks. Remember, the slant-latch should be facing you for minimal challenges. Here’s how to establish whether or not this method can work on your door.
No deadbolt. Deadbolts operate by pitching a metal rod inside the door frame, which can only be detached using the locking technique. If your door has a deadbolt, this method is not effective.
Slant latch faces you. Pushing the latch in using a knife, requires a slant towards you. The ideal way to identify a latch’s position is by looking at the hinges that support your door. Are they on the opposite edge of your door? If they are, then the slant is located towards you. If the hinges are directly facing you, this method won’t work.
Zero obstacles. You should be able to access the latch using your knife with ease. If there are metal plates or plenty of molding that prevents you from pressing the blade between the frame and your door, this method won’t work.
If the slant latch is facing you and there’s neither obstruction nor deadbolt, you can proceed with the method as we shall see below.
Plug your knife into the gap between your door frame and door.
Move your knife around until a wedge (latch) of metal ejects from the door. The wedge should have a springy feeling.
Use your knife to push the latch inside your door. If there’s no other lock, your door should spring open.
How to Pick a Lock Lever Handle
The lever handle lock is also referred to as a letterbox lock, usually used to secure office doors, homes, some safes, and mailboxes. These bolt-established locks come with levers that hold the bolt in place. Each level should be raised to a particular height to loosen the bolt.
1. Put the hook pick inside the top keyway and feel around to determine the number of levers there are. A majority of lever handle locks come with three to five levers.
2. Take out your pick and place a tension wrench inside the lower keyway and search for the notch inside the bolt. Once found, place the tension wrench and start turning counterclockwise of clockwise. The lock’s orientation determines your turning direction. After the bolt stops turning, hold the wrench and clasp it with average tension.
3. Plug the pick once more and push higher on each lever until you get one with a robust lift.
4. Lift the lever slowly until the bolt moves a little while movement on your lever stops. The lever now sits at the right height for your bolt to shift through. Repeat this step for the remaining levers.
Once you’ve all the levers well set, turn your bolt to unlock the door using a tension wrench.
Picking a Deadbolt Lock
Lock pick set
Tension Wrench / Torque Wrench
Plug the tension wrench beneath the deadbolt keyhole
Twist the tension wrench with much pressure to prevent driver pins from falling.
Plug the pick above your deadbolt keyway and drive the pins up, while maintaining the tension wrench.
Once the deadbolt opens, remove your pick and tension wrench.
Measures To Take if You Suspect Lock Tampering
Changing your locks is one of the effective ways of dealing with lock tampering. You can also upgrade them to mechanical or hybrid digital locks without driver pins or a pin tumbler lock, or use a drifting bolt or an object that prevents the deadbolt from turning once it’s been unlocked.
Some deadbolts come with a switch that unlocks when it’s turned over. Consider applying lubricant on the keyway to hinder driver pins from sticking. If there was a brute force entry upgrading your lock would be the most effective method. In addition to robust locks, adopt a home surveillance system to boost the security of your home.
Upgrade your locks
Today, many locks don’t solely depend on the composition of the driver pin and pin tumbler locks, such as mechanical or hybrid digital locks. You should either have an access card or type a pin on a keypad. In the case of advanced locks, you will need your biometrics (fingerprints) to unlock them.
Adopt mortise locks because picking them is not easy and are sturdier than others locks available in the market today. If you prefer using a padlock, ensure its ball-bearing mechanisms are hard to break open.
For this method, you’ll need a uniquely cut key to open driver pins and pin tumbler lock. After the key plug, strike or bump it. The impact is what knocks down the driver pin in the pin tumbler lock, allowing them to open. Today, lock manufacturers are designing robust locks that can resist lock bumping. Possessing the gadgets that develop a bump key is a preserve of locksmiths.
Adopt a Storage Hook
Fasten a lockable repository hook to your garage where you can keep an extension ladder. By keeping unsecured ladders in your yard, you’ll be inviting thieves to use them to gain access to your home.
Counter Bolt Cutters
Use a chunky secured lock and try to hide it to prevent angle grinders or bolt cutters. When chaining a ladder or any other valuable object, use a robust hexagonal-linked chain rather than round ones. Bolt cutters can’t access the former easily.
These objects come in handy to help secure a hasp and staple padlock or hinges. These unique screws come with an Allen, Torx, or hexagonal head that needs a specialized tool. Ensure no one can access the hasp or hinge staple screws easily after the door is locked, or closed.
With technological advancements, smart locks are becoming popular. However, it’s critical to understand that cybercriminals target anything that’s linked to the Internet. To boost the security of smart locks, manufacturers have adopted strategies to enhance their security, and make hacking difficult.
How do you unlock a combination lock when you forgot the combination?
You can crack the combination code of your lock. Grasp the lock with the dial towards you with its latch facing upward. The locking system will lie on the left-hand side. Apply much pressure on the latch of your lock to turn the dial.
Exercise caution, you don’t want the dial to spin freely. The tension is necessary for you to determine when you strike the right combination number, and the system engages.
Turn the Dial
To turn the locks, begin clockwise before shifting to anti-clockwise. Remember the direction you started with. If the system still doesn’t engage, you haven’t applied enough pressure on your latch. If it clicks at each number, you’ve applied a lot of pressure.
To get pressure right, the dial should only click once. Once you establish the single click, add on five to the number to form the first number in your combination. After finding the first number, change the dial rotation direction to counterclockwise.
After one complete rotation, the dial will experience resistance at a specific number. That’ll make the second number in your combination. Once you’ve figured the first two numbers, you can find your third number by testing each option. Set your first two numbers and follow a sequence to establish the third one.
Assuming your combination lock is old, drive it open with a shim. Padlock shims are available from online retailers with special instructions. Often, you can access them from the left-hand part of your latch and dupe it into opening. Shims don’t work on newer locks, and instead can destroy the system.
Master Lock Reset
If your combination lock is from Master Lock, then you’ll first want to have its serial number. The manufacturer should be able to share this information with you. However, you’ll also need to provide proof of purchase and your ID, especially, if the lock is fixed to a safe. The manufacturer can easily reset your lock’s combination.
How do you pick a combination lock with a paperclip?
Uncoil your paper clip on one side, while the other side remains bent. Plug your paperclip in the hole up, just near the shackle, where the locking system is located. Press your paper clip down and push it against in the hole as far as it can go.
Tap your paper clip against the wheels as you turn them one number after the other. Keep tapping and moving the wheels until its shackles open, and the pin drops down.
Repeat this process until the pin drops at the final level. Once this process is over, you’ll reveal a combination both at the front and backside of your lock. It’s the latter’s combination that you should look out for as it indicates the current code on the lock.
Now, move the wheels over to get that code at the shackle side. Here, count the numbers from your current gateway code up to the side. Move the wheels on each row one click at a time and lift the lock. If it doesn’t open, keep moving the wheels until it finally opens.
Lock Picking is a Useful Skill but Only do it on Your Own Lock
Having lock-picking skills helps you understand how weak the security systems you use, are. However, it is also a practical skill to gain access to your accidentally locked house or lost key. With this skill, you won’t need to pay a locksmith to open the lock for you. Remember, lock picking is an illegal practice in many States. Only use it to open your locks.
Which lock is hardest to pick?
Picking combination locks (except luggage combination locks) is harder, compared to pin and tumbler locks. With luggage combination, figure out the code by exerting slight pressure at the shackle while running the numbers.
How do you open a lock without a key with a hairpin?
Plug the flat edge of your pin at the top part of your lock and twist it. Drive your pin approximately 1 centimeter in and fold the remaining edge of the hairpin, it should be even with the face of your doorknob. This process will twist the tip of your pin at an angle. Use the bent edge of your pin to detach the driver pins.
Can you ruin a lock by picking it?
Lock picking involves opening a lock without the right key. It’s also an undercover entry method that hardly damages or leaves a mark on the lock. However, doing it wrong is a sure way of damaging the lock or leaving it with ugly marks. Master the art of lock picking to avoid damages.
How do you pick a lock with scissors?
Place a pair of scissors inside a hole at the bottom of your lock as deep as possible, making sure the blades are thin enough to fit.
When your pair of scissors is deep enough, twist it counter clockwise from right to left.
Change the twisting direction to clockwise until your lock opens.
Apply These Lockpicking Tips Today
To get started, you have everything you need to know to master these lockpicking tips and learning how to pick for many different types of locks, by being a lock pick buyer of the cheapest locks then practice your skill everyday. It’s basic lock picking.
One at a time, your required fields are marked, regardless of the type of lock. Don’t get discouraged by your first lock! Grab your torque wrench and find pin tumbler locks as a practice lock & pick locks… and continue to pick locks some more.
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