How to Pick a Tumbler Lock

 Lock picking doesn't necessarily mean you're planning to break into someone's house or you're practising robbery skills. It can be a useful skill that can save you from a lot of problems. More than that, it is a fun hobby similar to solving a Rubik cube puzzle.


If you're still not convinced, here are some ways in which your lockpicking skill can help you :


First of all, lock picking changes the way you look at your security or say your illusion regarding safety. We all keep our doors locked to keep our family and valuable essentials safe from the robbers or criminals. But when you start understanding your lock and you pick it, you get to know how simple it is for a robber to break into your house. These locks are nothing but an illusion of safety. While locks definitely provide us with a sense of safety and security, they can be easily picked by a skilled criminal. So, to protect your possessions and your family, a simple lock is not enough. You must deploy several layers of security and other safety tools. Understanding how these small locks work can make you improve your security level.

Is It Legal To Pick A Lock?


Most people think that only the professionals lock pickers can own the lock picking tools. Other than that, it is illegal to keep lock picking tools with you. However, this is nothing but a misconception. As long as you're not planning a robbery or trying to break into someone's house illegally, you can legally own and use the lock picking tools without worrying about anything.


However, there are some states that have their own set of laws according to which having lock picking tools act as an evidence of some sort of criminal intent. So, in these states, if you're caught with picking tools, you can get into a problem and to avoid any criminal charges, you'll have to prove your intentions.


To conclude, carrying or using lock picking tools is ethical and legal provided that you're not using it for criminal intent. You can use the tools for your purpose.


How to Pick a Lock?


Now, coming to the main question, how to pick a lock?


See, there are numerous kinds of locks available in the market but the ones that are most popular and found on a majority of doors are the pin tumbler locks. So, in this guide, we will discuss how to pick a pin tumbler lock, in order to keep it more generalized.


Before learning the procedure of picking a lock, you need to understand how it actually works. So, here is how pin tumbler locks work :

How Pin Tumbler Locks Work?


Talking about the design of tumbler locks, it has been there since a very long time, 4000 BC to be accurate. So, it is naturally more complex than the other type of locks which is another reason for its widespread use.


Here is how a pin tumbler lock works :


Generally, this lock features a cylindrical casing on its outer part in which you house a plug for opening it. There is a tiny gap between the outer cylindrical casing and the plug which is known as the shear line. The plug is where the key to open a lock is. When you insert the right key into this plug, it gets rotated and the lock unlocks. Further, on the top of this plug, there are about 5 or 6 holes that contain the key pins of varying lengths. These are named as pins because they come in contact with the key when you insert it into the plug. On top of the series of pins, there are spring-loaded driver pins for each pin which are often called "binding pins".


So, for rotating the plug, you'll need to lift each key pin along with its respective driver pin or binding pin up to a certain height so the gap between the binding pins and key pins come to the shear line. On reaching this level, the plug gets rotated.


Picking a lock is not rocket science, all you need is the right tools and the proper knowledge of using them. That's how simple it is to pick a lock.


Tools Required for Picking A Tumbler Lock


Although there are a number of tools that can be used for picking a lock, in this guide we will focus on the most important and common tools: pick rakes and a good quality tension wrench.


You can easily get these tools from your local market and to enjoy great deals and offers, buy them online. Make sure to get the sturdy tools, they shouldn't bend or break while performing the job.


Moreover, you can also use a hairpin or a paperclip for picking a lock but we recommend using the special tools if you're a beginner. After gaining some experience, you will be able to open a lock with a paperclip as well.


Step-by-Step Lock Picking Process


Step 1: Slip The Tension Wrench Into The Keyhole By Applying A Slight Pressure


Using the tension wrench in the right way is the secret to getting success at lock picking. So, pick your good quality tension wrench and insert into the very bottom of the keyhole with a little pressure. Apply the pressure in the same direction you'd do with the original key. Avoid applying too much pressure as it can cause the binding pins to go below the shear line which you don't want. Just apply enough pressure so that the driver pins lift up and go above the shear line.


You might be wondering, how much pressure is too much pressure? If the tension wrench is bending excessively, know that you're applying a lot of pressure. So, keep the pressure to a minimum.


  1. Put The Pick On The Top Of Your Tumbler Lock


Next, take your pick and insert it into the top of the lock. A good idea is to use a rake with multiple ridges as it can be used for a variety of locks easily. Slide it all the way to the back of your lock.


  1. At The Time of Apply a Light Torque To Your Tension Wrench, Scrub The Rake Back and Forth


Keep putting light pressure on the wrench using your left hand. Left hand because this way you can avoid putting a lot of pressure. Using your right hand, rake the plug with the pick. When you pick it back, keep lifting it to get an idea of pressure on the pins.


  1. Repeat Until All the Pins Set


Keep repeating this motion or say procedure of applying light pressure on the wrench until the lock is picked. You might feel the need for more pressure and torque on the pins as you get close to the last two or three pins. If you're not getting any success at opening the lock, know that you're applying too much pressure with the tension wrench. Don't panic, and allow the pins to reset and start again and don't apply a lot of pressure this time. Go very light-handed.


That's it. This is all you need to do in order to pick a lock. This method can be used for picking a variety of pin tumbler locks. This method is called scrubbing.


Moreover, there can be some locks that may require a little bit of practice and skills as they are more tricky. For these locks, look at the pin stack that is more resisting and pick it in the first place. Then, repeat the same method until all the pins are picked.


You will not learn this skill by opening one lock. You'll need to practice as much as you can using different locks to attain this cool skill.


When it comes to lock picking, it is art more than science. The best way to get your hands on lock picking is picking as many locks as you can. Get different kinds of pins from your local hardware store along with tumbler locks and keep them handy. Whenever you get free time from work or anything and if you're getting bored, start picking these locks. It is a fun as well as interesting activity.


Frequently Asked Questions On Lock Picking

What Can I Use For Picking A Lock?


Although some people can pick a lock using hairpins, paperclips or similar objects, we recommend using a special toolset if you're a beginner. Using paperclip or bobby pins can be very difficult for the less experienced folks. Also, paper clips and bobby pins get break most of the time.

Is Lockpicking Illegal?


This depends on the state and country you live in. In most cases, as long as you're picking your own locks and don't plan to take a criminal action, it is legal to pick a lock. However, some states call it illegal to even own a picking toolset. So, make sure to check the laws of your state or country before trying your hands on it.


That's all about lock picking. We hope this guide helps you.