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Secret of Lock Picking

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Lock Identification

Pin Tumbler Locks

Wafer Tumbler Locks

Double Wafer Locks

Pin and Wafer Tumbler Padlocks

Tubular Cylinder Locks

Mushroom and Spool Pin Tumbler Locks

Magnetic Locks

Disk Tumbler Locks

Tips for Success


The ancient Egyptians were the first to come up with

a complicated security device. This was the pin tumbler

lock. We use the same security principle today on millions

of applications.

The most commonly used lock today is the pin tumbler

lock. A series of pins that are divided at certain points

must be raised to these dividing points in relationship to

the separation between the cylinder wall and the shell of

the lock by a key cut for that particular series of pin divi-

sions. Thus the cylinder can be turned, and the mechanism

or lock is unlocked.

Lock picking means to open a lock by use of a flat piece

of steel called a pick. Actually, the process requires two

pieces of flat steel to open cylinder locks. It amuses me

to watch spies and thieves on TV picking locks using only

one tool. But it is for the better in a sense. If everyone

learned how to pick locks by watching TV, we would all

be at the mercy of anyone who wanted to steal from us,

and the cylinder lock for the most part would be outdated.

The actual definition of lock picking should be: "The

manipulation and opening of any restrictive mechanical

or electronic device by usage of tools other than the

implied instrument (key or code) used solely for that

device." A little lengthy, but more accurate description.

With cylinder locks, it requires a pick and a tension


By picking the lock, you simply replace the function

of a key with a pick that raises the pins to their "break-

ing point," and using a tension wrench one rotates the

cylinder to operate the cam at the rear of the lock's cylinder

to unlock the mechanism.

(See Fig-01.GIF)

The tension wrench is used to apply tension to the

cylinder of the lock to cause a slight binding action on

the pins as well as to turn the cylinder after the pins have

been aligned by the pick; this opens the lock. The slight

binding action on the pins caused by the tension wrench

allows one to hear and feel each pin as it "breaks" or

reaches alignment with the separation of cylinder and

shell. The vibration is felt in the knuckles and joints of

the fingers, and the sound is similar to that of a cricket

in an arm wrestling match-a subtle yet distinct click.

Usually you need very little tension with the wrench

while picking the lock. In fact, it takes somewhat of a

delicate, yet firm touch. This is the secret to picking locks

successfully-a firm and yet gentle touch on the tension

wrench. You should be able to feel the pins click into place

with the right amount of tension; experience will be your

true guide.

Half of your success will be based on your ability to

use or improvise various objects to use as tools for your

purpose. The other half will depend on practice. I once

picked a pin tumbler lock using a borrowed roach clip

and a hairpin. A dangerous fire was prevented and prob-

ably several lives were saved. The world is full of useful

objects for the purpose, so never hesitate to experiment.


I started picking locks using a small screwdriver and

a safety pin. The screwdriver can be used as a tension

wrench, and the safety pin is used like a "hook" pick.

The last half inch of the screwdriver's tip was bent at a

45 degree angle so as to allow easy entry for the pick (bent

safety pin). Do not heat the screwdriver tip to bend it,

as this will destroy its temper. Use a vise and hammer to

do the job. Bend slowly by using firm



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