How to Pick a Lock - Instructions with a Pictorial Description

how to lock pick

In 1770, a British inventor called Joseph Bramah stepped int the lock smithy arena. Being a polymath engineer, tinkering with locks was his pet peeve. The Bramah Safety Lock he came up with was supposed to be 100% secure. He offered a 200 guinea reward to anyone who could break it. In the meanwhile, the British Government upped the ante offering a 100 pounds prize for a tamper-proof lock that would signal is someone was attempting to do so. A second locksmith called Jeremiah Chubb did come up with such a mode. Between them, Chubb and Bramah ruled the world of lock security. Enter A.C.Hobbs, an American locksmith on the scene. He ultimately broke down both the systems casting a pall of gloom as the public took it that security can never be achieved. Linus Yale Jr. strode on to the scene, with a revolutionary mechanism to his locks; the pin and tumble. And so peace returned. But somewhere, the truant charm in picking a padlock remains in all of us. So although the original mechanical principle was the brainchild of Egyptians, Linus Yale is the father of the modern version.

How to Lockpick a Door Without Damaging the Lock?

Brass tacks first before you get to know how to lock pick. You need to understand the working of a door latch first before attempting to unlock it without a key.

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It’s an art, not a science; the feel is how it goes. Basic lock picking is not rocket science. Though we have shown examples of tools that will indeed make it a whale easier accomplishing the task, we are talking about thin shaped pieces of metal. With a hairpin or a paperclip, you can simulate the same action.

A standard door house lock employs a mechanism that is basically simple. It primarily consists of spring-loaded pins that by default are set when the door is closed. Tripping back the pins is how it unlocks. The pins are set at different depths, hence a key is jagged. Inserting the key, and turning it to unlock primarily is a reset. The key has guides that allow it to slide in smoothly.

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how to lock pick

The Illustration on the left is that of 'phantom' drivers within a locked cylinder. The line running through is what is called the shear line. The Illustration on the right depicts what happens when the proper key is introduced into the plug: The pins are raised and become uniformly aligned, thus elevating the drivers to their proper level above the shear line. In this condition, the drivers are no longer obstructing movement and the plug is free to rotate.

The Arsenal of a Locksmith

Tension Wrench

Tension Wrench

Lock pick set

Lock pick set

Lock rake set

       Lock rake set

So now that we know what we plan on achieving, let’s engage in the pursuit of lock picking techniques. 

How to Pick a Lever Handle Lock?

Tools Required

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1. The first step in how to lockpick a door is to insert the tension wrench and apply pressure, slightly. (Refer to the figure below for guidance on the pressure required)

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2. Slide the rake in fully to the back.

3. Do not relieve the tension. Since you are two-handed, use the free one. With your free hand, rake the plug with your pick. As the pin is withdrawn, lift up at the same time, in order to force pressure on the pins.

4. Scrub the pins and at the same time, the torque needs to be kept going until they are all set. Feel is important as expressed earlier. You will get to know. Just stay focused. There may be a need to increase both tension and pin pressure as you get closer to the finish line. Nothing yielding? Relax. Allow the pins to reset and start over again.

How to Pick Combination Locks?

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  1. Clear all by turning the knob clockwise at least three times surpassing zero.
  2. Dial slowly clockwise and applying tension on the shackle (simply pull it downwards so it’s stressed). At some point, the resistance builds. Gently release pressure on the shackle, continue mong the dial till it gets static at a point.
  3. Round off and add 5. You’ve got your first combination number.
  4. Again with the shackle under tension, turn the dial anti-clockwise till it hits a dead end.
  5. Step 2 is to be repeated.
  6. When you arrive at the second static point, round off to the nearest number, add 5 and voila, you have your second combination number.
  7. Position the dial at zero. Yank on the lock whereby, the tension on the shackle increases and turn the knob clockwise. It will stop at some point between two numbers. Jot down the number in the middle of this range, release a little pressure on the shackle and go through the process around the dial.
  8. Discard fractional numbers. The remaining numbers when reviewed will reveal one that ends in the same digit. This “maverick” is your third number.
  9. You made it. Attaboy.

How to Pick a Doorknob Lock?

Tools Required

Tension wrench, lock pick set


  1. Insert the tension wrench into the keyhole and keep it pressed to the side where the bottom of the key goes.
  2. Figure out which way the tension wrench needs to turn. The side of least resistance is the side you need to go with.
  3. Above the tension wrench, Insert the pick and feel gently for the pins.
  4. We are attempting to move into place the pin furthest away from the wrench. Using a steady but gentle pressure on the pick, manipulate the pin till you hear a click.
  5. Repeat with each pin without wavering the pressure of the tension wrench.
  6. Turn the wrench, and your door is now open.

How to Open a Masterlock?

Master locks are used often as a securing means for lockers, gates, etc. They employ a pin tumbler with a 5 pin cylinder and can be picked using a rake.

Tools Required

Tension wrench, set of lock rakes


  1. The lower section of the keyhole is where the short end of the tension wrench goes into.
  2. Holding the padlock in one palm, work the fingers of the hand, all the while applying a clockwise mild torque on the wrench.
  3. Slide in the rake and move it in an ‘in and out’ motion and maintaining pressure on the pins. You will be rewarded with a set of clicks as the pins pop up and set.
  4. Using the tension wrench, the cylinder is to be turned clockwise.
  5. Your padlock is now open

How to Pick ABUS Locks?

ABUS is an international band well known for its locks which are a tad difficult to crack. Pin tumbler locks are incorporated in the design.

Tools Required

Two tension wrenches, a hook pick

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  1. Both tension wrenches go into the keyhole bottom edge.
  2. Work out which way the wrenches should be rotated. Both wrenches will be working in tandem. Turn them both ways. The tumbler will allow some motion on either side but will stop abruptly if turned in one direction. There is more give in the right direction be it clockwise or towards the other side.
  3. Once the right direction is figured out, maintain the torque and shove the rake in.
  4. You will encounter one ‘stubborn’ pin. Press more upward with the rake, the magical click and you have managed to set the upper pin.
  5. Ditto for the remaining pins.
  6. Know the cylinder can be tuned with the wrenches, and the door opened.

How to Pick a Car Lock?

It can be hairy and terribly irritating to get locked out of the car with the keys dangling in the dashboard. Of course, you can smash a window and all that, but logically you want to get into the car with no penalties. The Slim Jim steps in here.

Tools Required

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  1. Between the window and the weather trim, gently insert the slim jim.
  2. You will have to fish now for the door lever. Be patient. The location of the lever can vary from car to car.
  3. Once the lever is located, it’s a song thereon. The notch will trip the lever.
  4. The door is now unlocked.

How to Pick a Deadbolt?

Another of those OMG situations when you can’t get into your own home. It could also be a case of an emergency when you need to get inside your home.

Tools Required

Tension wrench, lock pick set


  1. The wrench goes into the bottom of the deadbolt keyhole.
  2. With steady pressure to prevent the pins from falling back, rotate the wrench.
  3. Here, into the top of the keyhole, the pick is positioned keeping the pins pushed up with the wrench all the while.
  4. The deadbolt is opened now.

The use of digital clocks is increasing more and more over time. People are using fingerprint lock, portable door lock, transparent lock and more nowadays. 

How to Pick a Deadbolt


1. Is lockpicking illegal?

No. It is not illegal at all because it’s an alternative method of getting access. Some states maintain a different viewpoint.

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2. Which is the simplest way to pick a lock?

I am tempted to say, without tools, use a hammer. All the guidelines point to clever non-destructible methods to achieve this goal. If you keep a swiss knife at home, why not a few products that could indeed turn out to be lifesavers. But, yes the simplest way is to use a torsion wrench which is vital and picks.

Wrapping It All Up

There is a sort of infamy attached to lock-picking. Lock picking has saved lives. Take it up as a hobby, whatever. Lock-picking is a skillset. One that is essential if I may say. It’s a gusty day, you’ve just stepped out from the bedroom for that first cup of coffee, and slam. The bedroom door lock wakes you up. We hope you have found this simple guide inspiring. Best of luck.



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