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Simple guide to picking a lock

  • captjimjam Saturday, October 11, 2008 4:02 AM Reply
    A simple guide on how to pick a lock.

    1. Understand how your lock works. You must first find out how a lock works. Scraping the side wall of the lock is your number one priority. When scraping the side wall of the lock you ensure that you click or unlock the pins in the lock. The pin and-tumbler lock consists of a cylinder that can rotate within its housing (see illustrations below). When locked, the cylinder is kept in place by several pairs of pins. The top pin of each pair protrudes into both the cylinder and the housing, thus preventing the cylinder from turning. When the correct key is inserted, it pushes the pairs of pins up so that the top pins no longer enter the cylinder. When this happens, the cylinder can be turned and the lock will open.
    -Note the five pairs of pins. The blue pins enter both the cylinder and the (green) housing around it, thus preventing the cylinder from turning. The springs provide resistance to keep the pins in place.

    -When the key is inserted, the grooves and ridges on the key push the pins up to the correct heights so that all the blue pins are completely out of the cylinder, thus allowing the cylinder to turn and the lock to open.

    img src: http://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/2/2e/Pin_tumbler_locked.gif/249px-Pin_tumbler_locked.gif

    img src: http://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/0/09/Pin_tumbler_unlocked.gif/250px-Pin_tumbler_unlocked.gif

    2. Get a pick and tension wrench. Each pick is specialized for a different problem. A tension wrench, or torque wrench, is the device with which you apply pressure to turn the lock cylinder. Professional-grade picks and tension wrenches can be purchased in sets, see http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16416 for a 31 piece lock pick set (recommended).

    img src: http://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/f/f4/Lockpicks.jpg/250px-Lockpicks.jpg

    3. Place the tension wrench into the lower portion of the keyhole.

    4. Determine which way the cylinder must be turned to unlock the lock. If you commonly use the lock, you probably already know which way you turn the key to open the lock. If you don’t know, use the tension wrench to apply torque to the cylinder, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. The cylinder will only turn a fraction of an inch before it stops. Try to feel the firmness of the stop. If you turn the cylinder the wrong way, the stop should feel very firm and stiff. If you turn it the right way, there should be a bit more give. Some locks, especially among padlocks, will open regardless of which way the cylinder is turned.

    5. Apply light torque to the tension wrench in the correct direction, and hold. The required torque will vary from lock to lock and from pin to pin, so this may require some trial and error. Start gently, though.

    6. Insert the pick into the upper part of the keyhole and feel the pins. With the pick in the keyhole, you should be able to press up and feel the individual pins with the tip of the pick. You should be able to push them up and feel them spring back down when you release the pressure.

    img src: http://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/b/b7/Pin_and_tumbler_lock_picking.gif/300px-Pin_and_tumbler_lock_picking.gif

    7. Picking the lock. The part labeled "plug" is the cylinder.
    Find the most stubborn pin. While still applying torque, lightly press up on each pin, one at a time. Try to push each one all the way up. Identify which one is the hardest to push up. If they are all very easy to push up, turn your tension wrench more to increase the torque. If one won’t go up at all, ease the torque until you can push it up. Alternately, you may wish to “rake” the pins before this step (see Tips below).

    8. Push the stubborn pin up until it “sets.” Press the stubborn pin with just enough pressure to overcome the downward pressure of the spring. Remember, the pin is actually a pair of pins. Your pick is pushing against the lower pin, which in turn pushes against the upper pin. Your goal is to push the upper pin completely out of the cylinder. Then, when you stop pushing, the lower pin will fall back down into the cylinder, but the torque on the cylinder will result in a misalignment of the hole in the cylinder with the hole in the housing, and the upper pin should then rest on the cylinder without falling back down. You should hear a faint click as the upper pin falls back down on top of the cylinder. You should also be able to push the lower pin up a little with no resistance from the spring—when this occurs you most likely have the upper pin “set.”

    9. Continue applying torque and repeat the last two steps for each of the remaining pins. It is imperative that you maintain torque on the cylinder to prevent the set pins from dropping back down. You may need to make slight increases or decreases in torque for each pin.

    10. Use the tension wrench to turn the cylinder and unlock the lock. Once all the pins are set, you should be able to turn the cylinder. Hopefully you have already ascertained the correct direction to turn it. If you have chosen the wrong direction, you will need to start over and reset all the pins.

    I hope this guide is of some help.

    Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Pick-a-Lock

    Addicted to yellow envelopes!--UK--
    I'm a forum only moderator and not part of DX staff.
    To contact DX staff use: http://services.dealextreme.com
    New customer guide: www.tinyurl.com/help-dx
    Posts(6823) | Reviews | Tip post(3)

    post edited by captjimjam on 10/12/2008 at 5:20 AM
  • nerdspot Saturday, October 11, 2008 4:46 AM Reply
    Thx capt.. How about a sticky, mods??
    Chennai, India
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  • captjimjam Tuesday, October 14, 2008 6:48 AM Reply
    Thanks for making it sticky. :)
    Addicted to yellow envelopes!--UK--
    I'm a forum only moderator and not part of DX staff.
    To contact DX staff use: http://services.dealextreme.com
    New customer guide: www.tinyurl.com/help-dx
    Posts(6823) | Reviews | Tip post

  • selveste Thursday, December 4, 2008 6:30 PM Reply
    Thank`s for a great guide Capt:)
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    post edited by selveste on 12/4/2008 at 6:31 PM
  • pepsivanilla93 Wednesday, December 10, 2008 8:20 PM Reply
    for getting the tension right just use as much tension as it takes to turn the key in the lock and for the maximum tension raise all the pins to their highest point with a pick and apply enough tension to keep them all raised without dropping
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  • blacklung000 Sunday, January 11, 2009 6:27 PM Reply
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  • eatup0 Friday, February 6, 2009 2:46 AM Reply
    thanks for the info OP! with your info and 3 hours of my time i finally picked my first lock!
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  • diebodie Friday, February 20, 2009 4:25 AM Reply
    this SHOULD be a sticky. Very good tut.
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  • annoynimouse Tuesday, June 30, 2009 3:52 AM Reply
    One more link, i guess of need for any interesting person :-)

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  • XxCH3AT3RxX Friday, July 17, 2009 3:27 PM Reply
    Thanks for this.
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