The Art of Picking Locks

December 05, 2020 6 min read

The Art of Picking Locks

So, you might be locked out of your house, or, just plain curious about the art of lock picking. Either way, you are here to learn how to pick your lock just in case you might need to, or maybe a friend who is locked out and needs your help. First, a quick primer on the reasons why anyone or even you for that matter, would want to learn how to pick. And we have a best lock pick training kit

Second, the question of the legality of it all. Don’t worry, it won’t be as stringent as you would imagine, just a backgrounder.

Reasons Why Learn Lock Picking?


It Gives You an Additional Understanding of the Benefits and Limitations of the Lock and Key System

Knowing how to pick a lock would educate anyone, including yourself, on the limitations of a standard lock when it comes to security. Yes, it does protect you, your loved ones, and even your property. However, on a certain level, it's also just like any other man-made device that has certain tolerable limitations.

Your standard tumbler lock is incidentally the most commonly used lock in households today. Unfortunately, it is not without any loophole that anyone with some lockpicking know-how would be able to figure out and open it. Discovering that security gap would lead you to add some other useful locks for the inside of your door.

Adding some more simple bolt locks on the inside will help you avoid being outsmarted and broken into by a burglar. One such type of lock would be a barrel bolt that doesn’t have any access from the outside. This will help increase your sense of security inside and outside of your house.

Become a Helpful Handy Man

Your next-door neighbor for some reason may have locked himself out accidentally, now he needs your help to get into the house immediately. Assuming that you will be able to help out, you can potentially save your neighbor the trouble of having to deal with an emergency, or that In some instances you might have helped save someone else's life.

Is Lockpicking Legal?

Well, there is no required license for anyone to own lockpicking tools, much less a license to have the skills to do it. So, pretty much anyone with some patience and a mature sense of purpose can learn how to pick a lock. However, if you are going to use lock picking to illegally break-in into someone else’s house, then you’ll get into trouble.

As long as it's being done for emergencies or any other practical reason like lost keys, you can go ahead and do it. You can also do it as a hobby, or maybe to test your skills. Of course, you will be doing this with a set of locks that you yourself own in which you can practice on. You can have fun while you are at it too.

Your Guide on How to Pick a Lock

There are locks that today have already been innovated on. Some of them are combination locks, dead-bolt locks, and many others. These types are definitely much harder to pick, if and when it is even possible to pick them at all. They do, however, pretty much use the same mechanism of the lock and key principle since the ancient times. And it is still that way up until today.

The reason why the standard lock and key system still exists now, it's because it’s so effective in securing doors without having to be very expensive. And even if someone tries to, he still has to do a lot of practice to acquire the skills to do it. The most popular type is the tumbler lock which has been around since 1861.

In this case, we are going to use the tumbler lock as our subject in this article.

How Does Lock Picking Work?

For you to be able to pick a lock you will need to at least have an idea of what is going on inside it.

Parts of a Tumbler Lock and it Functions

Clear Practice lock for lockpicking
· The Cylinder
This the outer metal shell or housing of the lock that contains the rest of the parts. It is also the component that makes the upper limits of the shear line.

· Shear Line
It is the gap that is located right in the middle of the metal shell and the plug. This is the gap that basically makes the lock work. If it is in any way obstructed or the key pins are out of line, it remains locked and will not allow the plug to turn.

· Plug
Is a small cylinder-shaped component that rotates whenever a key is inserted and the key pins are aligned. It is the first and last part of the lock that tells the user if he or he may not have the right key. This is the part where the rotational shear line is located. The plug also makes up the bottom limit of the shear line.


· Key Pins
The tumbler lock has two types of pins. At the lower portion of the shell are key pins that are tasked to “read” the “cuts” of the key. They are generally of different lengths. So what these “cuts” do is to match with the length of the key pins so that the plug clears the shear line when it is turned. Naturally, if it is not the right key, it will not turn and will lock rather solidly. Anything else you insert will be rejected.

· Driver Pins
It’s the upper set of pins that are tasked to block the shear line if the bumps on the key don’t match the length of the key pins. Driver pin lengths by the way are always the same.

· Springs
The springs that match the number of driver pins are located at the upper portion of the shell. They push down on both upper and lower pins to keep the shear line closed. This is to ensure that the lock is locked when there is no key inserted into the plug.

How Your Lock Works

With the clear lock you can see clearly how lock works. The key is inserted into the plug from the end where it is facing outside the door. As it slides into the plug, the uneven teeth of the key hit the pins and work the springs up and down. If the key is a match to the length of the key pins, the pins will align with the shear line which will allow the cylinder to turn full clockwise and click open.

It’s a simple action from a mechanism that is not as simple to construct. Either way, this is how your key opens a tumbler lock.

Your Guide to Picking Your Lock

First, you will need the proper lockpicking tools to increase your chances of success.

Tools for lockpicking:

Lock Picks tools you need for lock picking
· Tension Wrench
A small thin L-shaped metal wrench that can be inserted into the bottom part of the hole in the plug.

· Pick Rake
Used as a master key of sorts, in which to move the pins and the springs, a rake is shaped like a thin crooked wire with smooth and not jagged wavy curves to mimic a key. Take note that since not all locks are of the same size, pick rakes have different sizes too. So, most kits come with several wrenches and pick rakes of different sizes. In this guide, we are using the standard size for the tumbler lock on a door.

Step 1
With some tips from Brett Mackey, we are going to use a technique that he calls “scrubbing”. Insert the bottom part of the L shape of the tension wrench to the bottom of the keyhole, and apply ever so slight pressure going clockwise on the wrench. Make sure there is not too much pressure otherwise the plug will lock up.

Now, why is it important to apply pressure? Because when you apply torque the plug will rotate slightly. When you pull the pick the pins drop back into place, but not the driver pins will catch the edge of the plug. Doing so will make the driver pins stay above the shear line which will allow the plug to rotate.

And when this later happens a full rotation of the plug will open the lock.

Step 2
While holding the tension with slight pressure to the right, insert pick rake at the top of the hole of the lock. Push all the way to the back of the lock.

Step 3
Holding on to the wrench, scrub your pick in and out of the keyhole. You can lift it up as you pull it back out to put pressure on the pins.


Step 4
Keep scrubbing and keep applying slight pressure on the wrench. Do this until all the pins are set and you can feel the turning of the plug. Once you can feel that it turns even halfway slowly turn it all the wall to open the lock.

And that’s about it. Although it may sound simple, you will have practice and sort of get the feel for it. Keep on doing it until you get used to the feeling and hearing the click of the pins setting.

Step 5
Practice picking a variety of locks that you can buy for the sole purpose of opening them by lock pick. Don’t go around picking other people’s locks for practice.

Once you get the hang of it, you may have some fun too, and you can even try a variety of new types of locks to pick. Of course, you will need to remember to do it only for legal entries.

Enjoy!

Lock Pick Genius
Lock Pick Genius


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