How to pick a door lock


You may likely have misplaced your house keys maybe once or twice. What if you had no spare under your doormat? You become sad, and you left wishing you learned the tricks of opening your door without a key. Worry not, for in this article, I will guide you on some lock picking mastery you can learn quickly. You do not necessarily need to call for a professional to do it, you can do it all by yourself! Read on to understand more on lock picking!



Understanding door locks

For you to understand how to pick a lock, it's necessary to have a clue on the different lock mechanisms. This will help you learn the door picking techniques quickly. The most common combination is the Pin tumbler found in knob locks, padlocks etc.



Tumbler mechanism

The tumbler mechanism has been in use for such a long time, dating from 6000 years ago. Its basic components include:


  • Housing: this contains the locks functional components. They are fixed on the door or the padlock.
  • Plug: This is the cylinder where a key can be inserted. It rotates when the correct key is inserted.
  • Shear line: This shear line (Green)is the physical gap between the housing and the plug.
  • Springs: These push the driver pins down to the plug.
  • Driver pins: They are blue in color and are responsible for locking the lock.
  • Key pins: These pins(red) make contact with the top part of a key when the key is inserted into the plug.


The outer casing housing plug is cylindrical in shape and sports a shear line. To open a door lock with this mechanism, you insert the key into the plug. This mechanism has movable tumblers that rely on the proper keys to arrange the tumblers (which can be disc, pin or lever) in a straight line, allowing the lock to operate. The tumblers act as barriers to provide security against key manipulation.


The specific key that operates this mechanism has a matching arrangement of cuts or notches of the same length. If they don't match, then the door lock cannot open a closed lock. The locks shear line bulges if the notches are not of the right length. The tumbler arrangement can also be changed by inserting a new set of tumblers and cutting a new key to increasing security if your keys were stolen. With that, it's essential to use the correct key that activates the tumblers into the correct positions.



Methods of lock picking

Check out some methods you can deploy to pick your locks: -


1.Traditional lock picking techniques

Very few people understand how to open doors with no keys without destroying the system. Below are some techniques to deploy:


  • Using a Tension wrench tool

This is the best tool to use to exert the necessary pressure on the housing plug. The tool works by positioning the locks driver pins correctly by intercepting the spit line. The plug is then triggered to rotate, and the lock opens.



  • Using the picking tool

This is what almost all of us have seen in the movies. You pick the pins one by one until they all open. You will, however, need a lot of practice to master this technique. But if you dedicate your time to getting the handy quality tools needed, then there's no reason you shouldn't pick locks within days!


For a beginner, you shall need a good range of picks and some tension tools. It can be hefty holding picks during the early stages, so going for one with handles can save you that struggle.

Guide on how to pick a lock using a picking tool


i.Insert the pick inside. This will add pressure to the corresponding key pin that will go down as the parallel driver pin intercepts the plug end. Elevate the key pins so that they rise above the shear line and if they start dropping down, the edge of the drive pin will catch the plug as it begins to rotate.


ii.Pick your pick. The best is the three-ridge Bogota rake which picks almost any type of lock, and it's not a complicated tool to use. Slide the rake till it gets to the back.


iii.As you apply torque slightly, ensure you keep scrubbing or raking the inside of the plug with your pick. Lift the pin up as you pick it back and forth to apply pressure on the corresponding key pins.


iv.Keep applying the torque and scrubbing the pins until they are all set. You might require to increase the pressure on the last two pins that will need to be set. If you are not achieving the purpose, then you have probably applied too much torque. Just relax, let the pins reset and start all over again applying minimum pressure.



  • Raking/scrubbing method

This is an effortless technique to learn. Pick rakes have a multi-ridge design that can unlock a set of key pins at a go. All you will need to do is grab your torsion tool and then insert the rake into the keyhole foot then rotate the cylinder. It can be hard to achieve the mission if you do not have a torsion tool (tension wrench) so it is necessary to have one.


  • Single-pin picking

There are single pin picking tools available. Whereas the rake method is the simplest, you might run in situations where you only find mushroom locks. You will be forced to pick the pins individually. All you will need to do is move the pick up and down until the center line is exposed.



2.Using a Bump key

Bumping is a lock-picking technique that describes the repeated striking method used to dislodge key pins. The technique works best with expensive locks that have smooth pins and cylinders. These keys are cut to the maximum (999) depth in the key-making machine.

You will need another handy, reliable tool to pick the door lock. A screwdriver can do. Other items you can use are a hammer or even your phone. You can place a piece of cloth where the key and the lock come in contact to avoid denting on your lock.


How to pick a door with a Bump key

Firstly, place the key inside the lock to test if it fits well. The only difference that could be there is that every single key has different cuts. Consider using the same brand of lock and key to fit well.

Pick a bump key. Visit your nearest locksmith and ask them for a 999 key but beware that some might think you are planning something illegal. You can also pick a key you don't use and file it until the ridges are deep.


Insert the key into the lock and push it until it stops. Pull back slightly till you hear the last pin click. This puts the pins in the right position for manipulation of the modern key teeth. Insert some pressure on the key as if turning it and then hit the bumper key end with a solid object.

If the bump key turns in the direction you are pushing, then the process was a success. If you are unsuccessful, then try again, this time, wiggling the bump key.



3.Using pick guns

This pick gives a different approach to opening locks. One should have some expertise to successfully unlock your doors. They work by flicking a thin needle at the key pins as you apply some tension. After several flicks, the pins will have set.


They come in two types: the electrical and the mechanical ones. Whereas the electrical ones(EPGs) are more effective, they can be more dynamic. The good thing about the mechanical ones is that they never run out of batteries and are worth adding to your collection.

How to use a pick gun to pick your door lock

i.Insert the electric or manual pick gun inside the door lock.

ii.Pull the trigger. This will make the gun to start vibrating, and as it vibrates, the pins are pushed up to the center line inside the lock.

iii.Turn the gun, just like you would turn a key.


Picking a door lock with this technique bears fruit with no time. But sometimes, it can be ineffective on some locks.


Extra tips for lock picking

Below are some things you might want to consider. They include:

  • Try with clear locks.

Practice makes perfect! The best way to become a pro in lock picking is to buy special practice locks that are clear enough to enable you to see the insides. They help you feel and see what you are doing. After you have mastered the tricks, you can then go ahead and try picking with a real lock.


  • Invest in other ways to keep your home safe

Thinking of other ways like installing an alarm system or even security cameras can help keep your home safe. As we all know, some door locks are not as safe as we imagine.




Being a successful lock picker is all about having several tools to help you in different techniques. Put in mind that not all tools give a 100% success. Some locks respond to one technique while another will respond to a different approach.