Content of the material
- 2. Picking a push-button doorknob
- Step 1. Prepare your tools
- Step 2. Check out the kind of doorknob you’re dealing with
- Step 3. Push your tool into the hole
- Basic Lock Picking Tools
- Mortise Locks
- Tools Required
- The Tension Wrench
- Single Pin Picking
- Beginner Lock Pick Set
- WHAT NOT TO DO
- LOCK TECHNOLOGY
- How to Pick a Lock with Single Pin Picking
- Step 1: Apply Tension to Create the First Binding Pin
- Step 2: Locate the First Binding Pin
- Step 3: Lift and Set the First Binding Pin
- Step 4: Locate and Set the Second Binding Pin
- Step 5: Repeat the Process of Locating and Setting Binding Pins
- Extra pro tips for lock picking
- Can I Tell If My Padlock Has Been Picked?
- 1. Visible marks on and around the keyhole
- 2. Discarded improvised lockpicks
- 3. Missing items in your storage
- Sign up for the Newsletter
2. Picking a push-button doorknob
Some doors are locked by pushing a button in the doorknob when you leave and then opened by using a key when you return. Alternatively, they can be designed to be unlocked only from inside, for example in a bathroom.
These can also be fairly simple to pick, and here’s how you can do it.
Step 1. Prepare your tools
This is a simple operation that can be performed with anything like a wire coat hanger, a paperclip, a hairpin or anything similarly shaped. All you need is something you can push into the keyhole on the doorknob.
Step 2. Check out the kind of doorknob you’re dealing with
On the interior of buildings, you may find there is just a hole – this is the kind of thing you might have on your bathroom door since they are just designed for privacy rather than keeping burglars out.
However, other versions may open with a key – these are sometimes found in hotels.
However, if you know that you are dealing with a push-button lock, you will know what you are looking for.
Pro tip: If you are staying in a hotel with one of these locks, take extra care with your belongings since they are very easy to pick.
Step 3. Push your tool into the hole
Push your paperclip, wire coat hanger or other tools into the hole or keyhole. When you feel some pressure on the other end, simply give it push and it should pop the button out on the other side of the door, opening the lock.
Basic Lock Picking Tools
You’ll need two tools: a lock pick and a torque wrench. The purpose of the lock pick is to push the pins to the shear line. There are of course a ton of different styles of picks that can be used and each of them utilizes their own technique.
However, because this is a beginner’s guide, we will be looking at the quickest and easiest method of lock picking, aka raking. This method of picking requires a “rake” style lock pick. Out of all the different styles of rake picks, the most popular is the snake rake. These picks have an elongated, jagged end that can manipulate multiple pins at once, just as a key does.
In addition to the pick, there is also the very important little tool called the torque wrench. This “L” shaped wrench accomplishes two very important tasks. Firstly, it gives us the leverage we need to rotate the plug, just as the key does. Secondly, and more importantly, it provides the torque necessary to set and hold the pins at the shear line as we pick them. Without this torque, the pins would simply fall back into the plug and the lock would forever remain locked.
Lock picking sets like this fully loaded one (which even includes a clear padlock for practice) can be easily purchased on Amazon. However, be certain to check your local laws because some may prohibit the possession of lock picks. If you live in the United States, check out this quick and dirty guide to lock-picking laws. For the Macgyvers out there, basic pin tumbler locks can be successfully picked using bobby pins as lock picks.
Mortise locks, which predate today’s tubular models, have a spring-loaded latching mechanism and deadbolt in a single rectangular housing. The lock gets recessed, or “mortised,” into the edge of the door. It is the strongest of residential locksets and an expensive piece of precision hardware that takes a pro to install correctly. Door hardware for mortise locks comes in just about any style. Expect to pay from $350 to $700 or more per lock, before installation.
While it’s possible to pick a lock with nothing more than bobby pins, owning an official set will dramatically increase your success rate. A quality set of lock picks will allow you to master the fundamentals, while having fun in the process. Most cost about $20 or less, so you won’t need to put up a big investment either. A great set to try is the Teika Professional Lock Pick Set from Amazon. Not only does it come a set of 12 lock pick tools, it also comes with a lock to practice on and two keys. The lock in is clear, so you’ll be able to see exactly what’s going on.
The Tension Wrench
Arguably the most important tool in your set will be the tension wrench. When learning how to pick a lock, you’ll need to become very comfortable using this tool. This little bent piece of metal serves two purposes: it provides leverage for turning the plug and it keeps the pins at the shear line. It’s something that comes with every lock pick set. But you can’t learn how to pick a lock using just a tension wrench. As you’ll see in the following section, a second tool called a “Pick” will also be required. Let’s take a look at how they can both be used to pick a lock.
Single Pin Picking
One widely-used lock picking method is a technique known as single pin picking or SPP. This method is used to open pin tumbler locks although it can be deployed when trying to open other locking mechanisms, too.
As its title suggests, to succeed in single pin picking, you’ll need a tool known as a pick – a device that resembles a short hook with a handle attached to it. You’ll also need a tensioning tool called a ‘pry bar’
Single pin picking is the act of manipulating each pin within a pin tumbler lock one by one to open the locking mechanism and enable the plug (cylinder) to be turned. To accomplish this, you’ll need to follow the steps listed below.
1. Insert your tension tool into the lock and begin turning it to “open” with a moderate amount of tension – not too much, not too little. You’ll need a relatively light amount of pressure to succeed.
2. Next, put your pin into the plug until it’s right at the back. You want to push the pin lightly against the pins inside until you can feel them springing slightly. As you run your pick along with each pin, search for one that feels more rigid or solid than the others – the binding pin.
3. Once you’ve located the binding pin, it’s time to place the tip of your pick onto the middle of the pin. If you’re not spot-on in the middle, that’s okay. It’s good to aim for the middle, but you don’t have to be dead-centre every time.
4. Now, begin to reduce the tension you apply to the plug. As you do, you’ll feel the pin start to move a little so attempt to keep it as steady as possible.
5. Finally, push the binding pin up until it reaches the shear line. When you do that, move onto the next pin whilst maintaining the same level of tension. You may hear an audible click as each pin reaches the sheer line and it may be less distinct on others. Keep an ear out for it.
6. Once you’ve placed each pin in a sheer line, turn the plug and open up the lock.
Beginner Lock Pick Set
If you are looking for your first lock picking set, my recommendation is the GSP Ghost Pick Set.
It provides you with an excellent selection of lock picks and tensioning tools—all of which are in surgical grade 420 stainless steel. The lock picks also include plastic molded handles that will keep the picks from digging into your fingers.
If the GSP Ghost lock pick set doesn't tickle your pickle, I would highly suggest looking for a set that has a similar setup!
Before we move on I do wish to note that it's far better to own a few high-quality lock picks than it is to own a bunch of crappy ones. Buy quality and stay far away from Amazon lock picking sets!
If the lock you are trying to pick has a wide-open keyway, you can easily get away using bobby pins or paperclips.
For those techniques, consider checking out the following guides!
You now have your lock picking tools, it's time to get down and dirty!
WHAT NOT TO DO
For sure don’t do the obvious: breaking into buildings that you don’t own or rent, stealing cars, robbing places or being an all around total douche to society. This is pretty darn basic, but let me tell you, there are some legit dummies out there in the world that are desperate and want to steal your things. The good thing is that the sooner you learn, the better you will be able to protect yourself from thieves. Now that we have that out of the way, we can continue talking about how awesome and badass knowing how to open locks is.
Every lock has its own technology and sometimes, you’ll need to some extra effort in resetting it. The standard lock technology that you will find is the pin and tumbler locks. Most master locks and door locks utilize this basic mechanical process. Lock technology has remained basically unchanged for a long time. However, there are some new types of locks that are trying to make their way into the mainstream. Nevertheless, you can cultivate advanced skills on opening locks, even if it boast complex technology. With these varieties, picking the pin sets individually might garner wealthier results. Additionally, you might need to employ a methodical approach when hijacking these cutting-edge designs. Most locks will stay in this pin tumbler configuration, however there is a new age of digital lock hacking that we show you how to do as well.
However, a study concluded that you’ll reset these locks easier if you correct the compromised pin stack first. You should follow this routine until you reset the entire stack. The adage “practice makes perfect” is definitely a stark reality when it comes to picking locks. Above all, you’ll expand your expertise on lock picking as you practice more and more. Training locks do make an excellent practice tool as you sharpen your skills. These locks are transparent so you can see the movement of each individual pin and how the pick you are using interacts with them.
Who knows, you might even be inclined to advance on a professional locksmith career later in life aye? Whether you are looking to start a career, just have fun, survive the zombie apocalypse, or just get back into your house – this is the place for you. Check out all the posts about picking locks with everyday objects like bobby pins, credit cards and paper clips.
How many nights have you been in peril without your key in sight? That padlock is totally grown legs and peaced out, but how?! You can fashion your own picks out of household items and get into that simple pin tumbler lock. No matter what you are picking, this skill will keep the locksmith away. Now to be fair, it’s not as glamorous as it seems. There is a ton of practice and patience involved in learning the process of becoming an expert lock picker.
Lucky for you, the team here at Pick Of Locks has put together the best guides on the web. We cover everything! From what types of locks will keep you safe, lock pick sets and articles about new digital locks, hacks and more! There is never a dull moment here because we are 100% obsessed with picking locks. Now that is real talk. The talk is so real in fact that we are finding new methods and new locks to pick all the time. Stay tuned! If you are looking for a type of lock to get picked, the chances are that we got the tutorial for you!
How to Pick a Lock with Single Pin Picking
So now that we know all this mumbo jumbo we can finally address the task at hand, picking a lock. While there are multiple basic lock picking techniques that you can use to pick a lock, we are first going to look at the method called single pin picking — also known as SPP.
Using this technique, we bump each individual pin up one at a time using a hook-type lock pick.
While single pin picking locks is not the fastest nor easiest technique, it is the best in regards to learning how to pick a padlock or door lock as it gives us a better understanding of exactly what is going on inside a lock.
Obtaining this understanding can be the difference between the mediocre and the master.
With that being said, let’s give it a shot.
Step 1: Apply Tension to Create the First Binding Pin
Remember, to set pins at the shear line and successfully pick a lock, you have to apply light rotational pressure to the plug and create your first binding pin
To do so, start by inserting the short end of your tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway and applying very light tension to the plug. Be certain to maintain this pressure on your tension wrench throughout the entire process of picking the lock.
Step 2: Locate the First Binding Pin
Now that you have created your first binding pin, you have to find it! But how?
Because the binding pin will have more "binding" force on it than the other pins, the binding pin will be stiffer and harder to lift than the other non-binding pins. So basically, you are just looking for a pin that is not loose!
Insert your hook type pick into the keyway and push it all the way to the back of the lock until you locate the rearmost pin. Very gently begin to raise each pin and gauge how it feels.
Continue to probe each pin until you find the pin that doesn't feel like the others and is more difficult to move.
Step 3: Lift and Set the First Binding Pin
Now that you have found the first binding pin, you have to set it!
Gently lift the binding pin until you feel a slight rotation on the plug or hear an audible click. Either of these two indicators typically indicates a successfully set driver pin!
Step 4: Locate and Set the Second Binding Pin
You have located and set your first binding pin, but now the lock is binding on a new pin.
Repeat the same steps of gently lifting each pin until you once again locate another pin that feels stiff and difficult to move. As before, gently continue to raise that pin until you feel a slight rotation on the plug or hear an audible click.
Step 5: Repeat the Process of Locating and Setting Binding Pins
Continue the process of locating binding pins and lifting them to the shear line. Once every pin has been set, there will no longer be any obstruction to the shear line the plug will fully rotate and the lock will open!
You have just picked your first lock!
Note: If you can no longer find a binding pin, you have likely overset or underset a pin. Release the tension to let the pins drop and restart the process over again. If you still can't find a binding pin, try applying slightly more force to the plug!
Additionally, check out our guide to honing your single pin picking skills.
Extra pro tips for lock picking
Here are a couple of extra pro tips you might find useful
- Think about other ways to keep your home safe
As we have seen, not all door locks are as safe as we might imagine, so it’s important to think about other ways of keeping your home safe. As well as relying on your door lock, consider investing in an alarm system, a security camera, and so on.
- Practice with clear locks
If you want to learn how to pick locks, the best thing you can do is practice. A good way to do this is to buy special practice locks that are clear to allow you to see the pins inside.
First, spend time practicing with these locks – they will let you get a feel for what you are doing while also letting you see what you are doing.
After this, you can move on to picking “real” locks that don’t let you see inside.
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.
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