What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

It depends on how badly you want to get in. Many padlocks can be shimmed. This is placing a thin piece of flexible metal along the inside of one of the posts of the lock and moving it down, between the post and the body, until it causes the hasp to release. 

With a little practice, you can use a bobby pin. A large hammer will do it if you don’t mind making some noise and damage.

In what ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

You can use tools like bobby pins, paper clips, etc. Provided they are rigid enough.

A good substitute for a tension wrench is the cutoffs from street sweepers – you can commonly find them on the side of roads, especially in the city.

The actual picking process is generally the same.

How do I pick a lock with lock picks?

Buy a practice lock; they are clear, allowing you to see the pins as you manipulate them. Mine even came with tensioner wrenches as well as picks. Check for local ordinances and laws regarding the possession of such things. Some jurisdictions consider them burglary tools.

How easy is it to pick modern locks?

Very easy.

I learned to pick locks about a decade ago. After just my first hour or two with some helpful, friendly people at the 2600 Hope conference, I could pick some easier locks at the table.

Once I got my lock picks, I got into it and started practising. After about a month of just a few minutes here and there practising while watching movies, while files were downloading, or my programs were compiling, I could reliably pick most pin tumbler locks that were not high security or high quality. The accounts for most locks on most homes in almost any place I’ve been.

I was never that good, but at my peak of practising, I could reliably open just about any household door I came across within somewhere between 30 seconds to about 5 minutes. This is highly variable. Any lock sports competitor would laugh at these numbers, but I was never very serious about the hobby. 

A lock sports competitor is likely any typical house lock in 10 seconds. But that takes lots of practice.

I never practice much at all. I got tired of it after about a year of only doing it here and there, among several other hobbies and being in college full time. Anyone could learn to pick the average house door lock reliably and consistently in under 5 minutes if they practised even the modest amount I did.

How do you pick locks?

According to movies, this is how.

  • Find any lock. As long as it’s a lock, it doesn’t matter which type.
  • Get two thin sticks of any type.
  • Insert sticks into the keyhole.
  • Wiggle the sticks around for approximately 2 seconds.

PRESTO! The lock falls off/opens, and you can steal or trespass as much as you like.

In video games, you only need one stick :)!

What kind of lock is easiest to pick?

Cabinet locks with three pins turn very easily with a rake and little tension. Surprisingly, most 18-wheeler locks are very easy to pick. You can also rake those, and you don’t have to have a Y tension wrench. 

You can get away with using a wide L-shaped tension wrench. You do have to apply heavy tension on those, however. As for regular door locks, Kwikset deadbolts with a light wrench and electric pick or pick gun. You can rake them if you must, but it may take a little longer.

Is it possible to lock a modern lock?

Yes, for the most part, pin tumbler locks are surprisingly (and worryingly) easy to pick, and lever locks can be picked too.

However, there are locks like the Forever lock and the Bowley lock, which cannot be picked as they completely restrict access to the pins, meaning you cannot get picks in there. However, they are very rare.

With the right tools and a bit of practice, it’s easy.

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What are the easiest ways to pick a lock with stuff around the house?

Interesting question, and not a key rules out bumping the lock, so we can break this into two parts, as we need a tension wrench and a pick to pick the lock. (I assume a pin tumbler-style lock, NOT a lever-style lock).

1: The tension wrench

For this, we need something reasonably wide but thin enough to fit in the lock, so I suggest a heavy-duty paperclip, as this can be easily bent to the correct shape to tension the lock. 

To do this, bend the paperclip into one straight length, then bend about 1cm at one end back on itself, then bend it at 90° after this section. Insert the doubled-up section into the bottom of the keyway and use the part at 90° to apply tension.

Now we have tension, we need:

2: The pick

The pick must be thin but also difficult to bend, ruling out the common ‘a paperclip’ as this bends far too easily to pick anything but a wafer lock. We need something more like a bobby pin for hair, as these tend to be stiffer. Remove any cap from the jagged end and bend it so it is one straight piece, and you can now use the jagged end to ‘rake’ the lock open.


1: Picking a lock with proper tools does not damage it, but this method may, as these tools can bend, break and get stuck far more easily than when using proper tools.

2: NEVER pick a lock unless it is yours or you have permission from the owner; otherwise, it is illegal.

3: Be aware of what lock you are picking, as some locks contain trap pins, which will permanently seize the lock if you pick it. However, most of the time, if the lock seizes halfway through turning, the driver pins have fallen into the keyway and need lifting back out.

4: These tools are better than the real thing, and it will be very difficult to open anything but poor-quality locks, as the feedback from these tools will be very limited.

That being said, hopefully, you get on well!

Is it easy to pick a lock?

It depends on the lock and sometimes the sharpness of your skills (aka luck) on a given day.

I acquired some practical lock manipulation skills working in several skilled trades. While working for several divisions of a Fortune 100 corporation, I was often requested to pick corporate-owned locks for managers who had lost or misplaced their keys and needed to get into things like their desks or filing cabinets.

Historically, some locks have such loose tolerances and easy-to-manipulate designs that just about anyone with a basic idea of how to proceed could be successful the first time they tried to pick it.

However, I often remark that picking locks is somewhat like seducing women. One day, a very high-status lady (that you would never expect to have any success in getting into bed) will be an easy success. On other days, a notoriously ‘easy’ and promiscuous woman will not even talk to you.

In 1960, Mr. R C Spain of Roanoke, VA, USA, patented a rotating pin-tumbler type lock (Medeco) that was considered unpickable. {What follows is my memory of a real-time newspaper account from likely the early 1970’s. It differs somewhat from the current Wikipedia account}

The Medeco company offered in today’s money a reward of about $7000 ($ 1,000 then) for one success and $70,000 ($10,000 total) for two successes within an 8 to 9-hour business office day. Two keyed alike locks were installed in the door to the office of the company president’s secretary and the door between the offices of the secretary and the president.

A skilled lock manipulator compromised the secretary’s door lock within a few minutes of beginning, causing astonishment and great concern. He spent the rest of the day trying to open the second lock. 

The newspaper account stated that he used a random tool known as a snapper for his first success, which is somewhat analogous to pulling the handle and hitting the jackpot on a slot machine.

What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?
What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

How does one learn how to pick locks?

By practising. How do you practice?

By getting a lock and a lockpick set and practising. Many guides, shops, and sources exist, so I won’t repeat instructions here.

But the principle is very simple: anyone can learn the basics of picking locks, though it takes a steady hand and an obsession to become good at it.

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Can all locks be picked?

Can I answer a different question? Can I pick all the locks? The answer is no. I can pick most knob locks, padlocks, and deadbolts, locks with pin tumblers. But I’m an amateur. More complex locks, cylindrical locks and such, I’ve just never learned to do.

I have been to conventions where there are guys who can open anything. There’s a difference between picking and opening. The latter is often destructive. I won’t spill the beans, but one of the most respected locks is susceptible to lock snapping, a simple operation that gets it right open but destroys the lock.

I’m old and clumsy but I got into picking in my youth. My mother got very upset and punished me when I would lose my key. After losing two, I learned to pick our front door. A pin tumbler Schlage; it took me maybe 30 seconds after I got the feel of it. I graduated to pick up my friend’s doors just for giggles. By the way, a Schlage is now more difficult.

I made my lever and raked out of a certain type of hairpin that my mother sometimes used, the brown ones. I thought I was sneaky when hiding them in the back fold of my wallet. Some friends of mine and I got busted for some beer once.

We got taken “downtown”, where the desk sergeant went right to my tools. My friends went home with a citation, but I spent the rest of the night and the next day until my dad could come and get me. I did the “innocent- lost key” act, which wasn’t an act. A call to my mother confirmed the lost key business. I ended up with the sternest lecture possible and had to promise that I’d never again have burglary tools.

When we left the station and in the car, my dad said, “You can pick the front door?” We went home, made a set of tools, and I taught him how to do it. My dad handed me the tools and said, “You must never again get caught with these.” 

A few months later, he called me, picked me up, and took me to the church, where I opened the door. They had lost the key. My dad jumped all over me for the sloppy job I had done of hiding my tools in my shoe.

So, can any lock be picked? No. Can any lock be opened? Yes. My defence at my home? I don’t have anything worth stealing.

How do you pick a tubular lock without tools?

You mean without PROPER tools because you can’t pick it bare-handed. You need tools of some kind. A turning tool and some picks to manipulate the pins.

How do I pick a lock with nothing?

With nothing?

No fingers, tools, etc?

I don’t think that is possible, I’m sorry.

I am going to assume you mean without tools. Unfortunately, I don’t think you will have much luck with your fingers or things you generally carry around. If you got locked out, you can try calling a locksmith or checking to see if you left any other entrances unlocked.

How much lockpicking will it take to damage a lock?

Oh boy.

Okay, let me say what I say to everyone who has seen a video: Never pick a lock you don’t own, or that you use, or that it’s in use unless you’ve locked yourself out or similar.

If you break something, your door is inoperable, and you’ll be spending money calling someone like me to fix it.

As regards the lock, even putting a lock pick in the lock causes some damage. There are forensic traces caused just by the contact of the tools. Yes, I can find those. Yes, I can determine the tricks I tried.

Damage? It varies. I’ve seen “impossible” things over the years. One recent should not be possible without disassembling the lock, where a key pin got into the wrong chamber, somehow, bricking the lock. 

It only has three pin stacks filled and had been used several times before that day, plus at previous events, but it’s fairly new. Yet somehow, someone knocked a pin hard enough that it jumped into another chamber! Impossible.

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I fixed it, as it was a practise lock and I had full access, but it would’ve been very messy in a door, even an open one.

The caps come off cylinders, and all the springs jump out. I’ve often seen people turn the cylinder the wrong way and brick the padlock.

Other locks? They’ll last forever.

But you? You can’t tell. Nor, mostly, can I.

Get “other” locks for playing with.

Locksmithing: Can lockpicks pick locks in seconds, as often depicted in shows?

Yes. I have done it for practice. Pin tumbler locks are the easiest, and they succeed even with an electronic screwdriver and a hairpin.

Good luck picking a disk tumbler lock like Abloy, though. It is a slow business, and you need specialized fine mechanics to pick (temple).

Is it possible to lock a lock with a lockpicker?

If you can unlock it by picking, you can lock it.

Some locks are easier to pick in the locked direction (Audi, VW, Merc), and this can be exploited – however, on std pin tumbler systems – no difference.

What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

Do electric lock picks work?

If you mean one of these:

The answer is: It depends.

These work of the same principles as raking or bumping. Its goal is to vibrate the pins until they all jump to the shear line and open the lock. The thing is that this attack is pretty easy to defend against by using security pins:

Because you must keep the key way tensioned, the security pins will always snag on the edge, jam the pin and force you to restart. Unlike single-pin picking, you can’t use counter rotation because all the pins that you have possibly set will drop back down.

So, will it work? Yeah….on locks with no security pins. Sometimes, the gods will roll the dice, you get lucky, and all the security pins will jump just right, but I’ve been at this for a couple of decades, and it’s happened twice for me.

You also won’t find too many malicious actors using them unless they are clueless about all the above or know their target is soft. Why? Because all the ones that are powerful enough to give consistency on soft locks are LOUD. Those pencil ones are fine for things like your sister’s novelty-locked diary, but not much more.

Disclaimer: Picking a lock you do not own or have explicit permission from the owner to pick is illegal everywhere. Locksmithing and lock sports are great careers or hobbies, but anything else can and should land you in jail.

Does picking locks damage locks?

Not very much when done properly with the proper tools.

Wedges and airbags can open vehicle doors, but that isn’t “picking” either. Wedges can damage the paint and can twist the door. Airbags, when over-inflated, can also twist doors and make them not close properly.

Sticking to “picking locks,” i.e. manipulating tumblers and lock cylinders, you Shouldn’t damage anything using real picks and the right prybar to put tension on the cylinder. Just don’t use crowbars and screwdrivers.

Have you ever picked a lock?

In my YOOT, hundreds of times – some bunches less successful than the few that were successful:::)))

One winter day, I got off the school bus. I was about 13, and three teachers who “hated my guts” ran over to me. “Boy! Are we glad YOU’RE Here!” 

They locked themselves out of the school the night before, and nobody could enter. I did as requested, and during a morning break, I was called to the principal’s office, as usual – but this time was a bit different; he asked what the hell I was thinking by letting them in and wanted to know why I didn’t let them stay out there and make them call a locksmith!

Ahhhhh…. vanity.

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Are lockpick guns real?

Yes, but they require a little practice to use, and – more importantly – they only work on specific types of (low security) locks. They are only effective on those locks with one row of pins. Locks that use a key similar to this:

This is the kind of security we have here in Switzerland in our mailboxes. It’s too weak for anything else. Anyone can pick such a lock easily with a little practice and a bent paperclip.

But as soon as you have a more serious type of lock, they are useless like this below. This is a standard key of a corresponding lock, and this is the kind of key we use to open our front door. This is a pass key which unlocks a variety of locks around a building, for instance:

And as soon as you move into mechatronic keys, such as illustrated below, jiggle guns are a complete waste of your time:

This type of key has a chip in the plastic bit; the lock reads the chip, and the mechanical component of the key sets the pins. So, if you try to pick the lock mechanically without the chip, it won’t open. This is company premises type security.

Or use an RFID or NFC badge. Good luck picking a lock with no keyhole (yeah, you can hack it… I know).

In a nutshell, how does picking locks work?

The lock pictured with the question is a pin-tumbler lock. This is the most common type of lock currently in use. Picking pin tumbler locks relies on exploiting a mechanical flaw inherent in the design. 

As you can see, the lock consists of two cylinders, one with a slot the key fits in that rotates inside, the other which is fixed to the door or housed in a padlock body. Holes are drilled through both cylinders that line up with the slot, and these holes are filled with two sets of pins, one on top of the other and held in place by springs. 

One set of pins is typically the same length (the drive pins), and the other varies and corresponds to the cuts in the key. When the correct key is inserted in the lock, all those pins of various lengths line up flush with the separation between the two cylinders, and the inner cylinder is free to rotate. A piece on the end of the inner cylinder usually engages with a deadbolt or other latch so you can open the door (or padlock).

The flaw you exploit to pick a lock is that the holes for the pins cannot be in a perfectly straight line, and if you rotate the inner cylinder without a key in the lock, the inner and outer cylinders pinch the drive pins. 

In theory, they all get pinched simultaneously, and you can’t open the lock; in practice, one pin always pinches (or binds) first because of minute imperfections in the lock. That pin keeps the lock shut until the cylinder rotates further and engages another pin.

To pick a lock, you use two tools in concert: a tension wrench and a pick or rake. The poorly named tension wrench is used to apply torque to the inner cylinder (torque wrench was already taken), and the pick is used to find the binding pin. It’s the only one that won’t want to move; the others will all move with only the pressure the springs provide, but the bound pin will be stuck.

How much depends on how much torque you apply. You don’t need much. When you push up, at a certain point, the break between the pins will line up with the break between the cylinders, and the inner cylinder will be able to rotate fractionally. You’ll feel a tiny click or pop, and another pin will be bound instead.

When you’ve worked through the pins that align with the cylinder, the cylinder will be free to rotate, and the lock will open. Using a rake is similar, but it has several peaks and valleys like a key does, and you scrub them against the pins in the lock, and pins will more or less randomly set.

How did lockpicking start?

With the humble latch lifter:

The wooden Egyptian pin tumbler locks were over two thousand years old. Roman engineers modernized them and other lock constructions by replacing the wooden parts with corresponding parts made of metal.

The clumsy Egyptian pin tumbler locks were transformed into elegant Roman pin tumbler locks of steel, fitted with an ingenious Roman invention, steel springs. The locks were often tiny masterpieces in terms of both precision and design. All Roman door locks can only be opened from one side.

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The key matches the pins (seen in the reconstruction of an original metal Roman lock found at Pompeii), but with care, the pins could be manipulated until the latch lifts.

Which is why they moved on to the long-shaft rotary key and tumbler locks that we recognise today:

A Roman lock operated by a rotary key.

Most rotary keys were warded.

They were also contemporary with pin tumbler locks and keys,

All the rotary keys found at Pompeii have hollow stems, turning on a key post.

While no lockpicks have been found, it’s a safe bet that the internal mechanism was understood and that the artisans who made the locks and keys could doubtless fabricate a skeleton key or picks that would enable even the fiendish rotary warded kind to be defeated.

What ways can you pick a lock other than with lockpicks?

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