Introduction


This guide is aimed at showing you the basic theory on how to pick a simple pin-and-tumbler lock. There are a few methods but some popular ones are rakes, bump keys, or actually picking it.

Lock Picking


Materials

  • Tension Wrench: Something small/thin enough to fit in the end of the keyhole but also strong enough to turn the cylinder. You can use something like a thin flat head screwdriver or a small filed down Allen wrench if you need to.
  • Lock Pick: You can use a safety pin or paper-clip straightened out and bent at 90 degrees at the tip. Basically something that is thin enough to go in and be able to push up the pins.

Method

  1. Place the Tension Wrench into to bottom part of the lock. This is used to turn the cylinder inside the lock and plays a big part in being able to pick the lock.
  2. Then apply torque to the Tension Wrench to determine which way the cylinder rotates to unlock. First try clockwise then anti-clockwise. They should both rotate slightly differently one feeling a bit harder to push than the other; the less firm way is the way you want to apply the torque. However this step can be skipped if you know which way the lock rotates, you just apply the torque in the direction the lock rotates (usually it's clockwise).
  3. Once you've figured out the direction apply the torque in that direction and hold. Each lock with vary from lock to lock and pin to pin so it may take quite a bit of trial and error to get this right, but its easier to start of gently to begin with.
  4. Insert the Lock Pick into the top part of the key hole and press up to try and feel each individual pin with the tip if the lock pick. You should be able to feel the pins snap back down as you release the pressure. Try to feel the hardest pin to push up; if they're all easy the you need to apply more torque, and if they're all hard then apply less torque.
  5. Push the "stubborn" pin up until it is "set". To set the pin you push it up until the pin no longer falls down when you stop pushing it. You might be able to hear a faint click noise when you do this. You should also be able to push up the lower part of the pin with no resistance from the spring.
  6. Continue applying torque and repeat step 4 & 5 on the remaining pins so that all the pins are "set". You may need to make slight increases or decreases in the torque for each pin.
  7. Once all the pins are "set" you should be able to use the tension wrench to turn the cylinder and unlock the lock. If it is stuck you may have the wrong direction and may have to reset the pins and start again. To reset the pins you let go of the torque from the tension wrench.

Raking


Materials

  • Tension Wrench: Something small/thin enough to fit in the end of the keyhole but also strong enough to turn the cylinder. You can use something like a thin flat head screwdriver or a small filed down Allen wrench if you need to.
  • Lock Pick Rake: Usually you would buy one as they're designed a certain way, but it is possible to make your own using tutorials on the internet.

Method

  1. Place the Tension Wrench into to bottom part of the lock. This is used to turn the cylinder inside the lock and plays a big part in being able to pick the lock.
  2. Then apply torque to the Tension Wrench to determine which way the cylinder rotates to unlock. First try clockwise then anti-clockwise. They should both rotate slightly differently one feeling a bit harder to push than the other; the less firm way is the way you want to apply the torque. However this step can be skipped if you know which way the lock rotates, you just apply the torque in the direction the lock rotates (usually it's clockwise).
  3. Once you've figured out the direction apply the torque in that direction and hold. Each lock with vary from lock to lock and pin to pin so it may take quite a bit of trial and error to get this right, but its easier to start of gently to begin with.
  4. Whilst keeping the tension insert the Rake and slide it in and out trying to "rake" the pins. Eventually (if you have to right way) the lock should just turn and open. Otherwise try the other direction using the same method.
  5. If your having trouble with this you may not have set all the pins, you can use the standard picking method to pick the remaining pins.

Bump Keys


Materials

  • Bump Key: A key that's "teeth" are all at size 9's (the smallest size) in the kind of certain lock you want to pick e.g. LW4 (Lockwood 4). You can either buy them online or a locksmith may let you buy one.
  • Something to hit the end of the key with: so either a hammer or the end of a screwdriver or really anything you can find.
  • O Ring: not mandatory but very very helpful and will make it faster to pick. try and find one that fits around the key nicely.

Method

  1. Find the right style of lock, if your having trouble find a key that fits in the lock or find the style of key the lock takes.
  2. Once you have found that key put the O Ring on it.
  3. Insert the key into the lock. If without the O Ring insert it one notch back.
  4. Apply torque towards the way the key unlocks, if unsure try clockwise first.
  5. Hit the key into the lock. If you have the O Ring you can keep hitting it changing your torque until it unlocks.
  6. If this doesn't work you may have the wrong style of bump key or the lock may be un-bumpable.

Videos


For more information on lock picking watch this video. It has more techniques, tips and strategies in it and might help with explaining in more detail how lock picking works.

Picking


Bump Keys


Legality


A detailed overview of US laws regarding lock picking can be found at http://toool.us/laws.html Laws around the world vary from country to country. Most EU countries do not regulate the possession of lock picks.

Shopping


Walker Locksmiths is one of the biggest suppliers of locksmith tools and lock picking equipment.

You can also buy the lock picking gear from places such as:
UK Bump Keys
lockpicks