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Lockpick basics: How to Pick Locks Part 2

Updated on March 4, 2014

Part 2

What we have covered

In the last chapter of this Lockpicking Tutorial, Many of the Key terms that you will come across were defined. By now, you should have purchased a Lockpick set either online, or fashioned your own. There are many Youtube tutorials that can help you create your own Lockpick Set If you aren’t interested in buying one for yourself. Without further ado, let’s pick some locks!

Basic technique – Single Pin Picking

What you are trying to do when you Lockpick is get the Driver Pins above the Sheer Line. When all the driver pins are above the sheer line, you will be able to rotate the plug, thus unlocking the lock.

Have the lock facing upwards when you pick it, notice the small brass pins facing downwards when you look into the locks keyway. These are the Key Pins.
Have the lock facing upwards when you pick it, notice the small brass pins facing downwards when you look into the locks keyway. These are the Key Pins.

Have a Lock ready, preferably a small handheld Master lock, so you can get an easy grip on the lock while picking it. Now, if you look inside the keyway (where the key is inserted), you will see that on the inside, there are some small brass Pins facing downward. These are the Key Pins that have been previously mentioned. These are all different sizes, but appear to be the same size.

These are the pins that you will be manipulating when picking a lock with either a short hook pick or half diamond pick that can be purchased online.

Now, to get right into the Picking. What you want to do is have the lock Keyway facing you. Have it facing upwards, with the key pins facing downwards.

Put the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway with the short end inside the lock, remember that high amounts of tension can thwart your attempts at picking the lock, try light tensions and move up progressively.
Put the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway with the short end inside the lock, remember that high amounts of tension can thwart your attempts at picking the lock, try light tensions and move up progressively.

Now, with your Tension Wrench you will want to place the shortened end inside the bottom of the keyway. The long end of the tension wrench should be racing at about 4’ O’clock. The Tension that will be produced from this will come from you pushing downwards on the tension wrench. This will enable you to push up the Key Pins, and ‘set’ the driver Pins above the sheer line.

Now, with a TINY amount of pressure, push the end of the Tension Wrench in a Clockwise Direction. When you do this, the plug will rotate ever so slightly, and then feel like it is stuck. This means that one of the Key Pins is preventing the plug from spinning, and is becoming caught between the hull and plug. Due to the fact that the cylinders that house the Springs, Driver Pins and Key pins cannot be drilled perfectly in line, there will always be one key pin that catches the plug first. This is the pin that you want to find.

Push the Pick right to the back of the lock with the yip facing upwards
Push the Pick right to the back of the lock with the yip facing upwards

While maintaining clockwise pressure on the Tension Wrench, push the short hook or half diamond Lockpick to the back of the lock. The hook and diamond point should be facing Upwards i.e. towards the pins.

With the pick now at the back of the Plug, Maintain pressure with the tension wrench. Now, very slowly work your way from Back to front, while pushing the tip of the Lockpick upwards. Try to feel each pin as you push upwards from back to front. As you are doing this, there will be a pin that feels harder to push upwards than any of the other pins. This is the Binding Pin. The Binding pin is the pin that you want to try to locate, as this is the pin that is catching in between the hull and Plug of the lock. With the tip of your Lockpick, all while maintaining constant pressure on the plug, push this Binding pin upwards. If it doesn’t budge, then you may be applying to much Torque through the tension wrench. Simply ease back the pressure and retry to push the Binding pin upwards.

The inside of a lock when all the pins have been set. Notice how the Driver pins sit flush above the sheer line, allowing the plug to rotate independently from the hull.
The inside of a lock when all the pins have been set. Notice how the Driver pins sit flush above the sheer line, allowing the plug to rotate independently from the hull.

When you manage to push up the Binding pin, you will feel the plug of the lock ‘Jump’ through the tension wrench. This means that the Driver pin of the Binding pin is now sitting above the sheer line. The ‘Jump’ of the lock was the plug rotating slightly, and binding of the next pin that prevents the plug rotating.

Once you have found the first Binding Pin and ‘set’ it, you must maintain tension on the plug. Now, push the pick to the back of the plug again, and repeat the process.




In Summary

  1. Have the lock in your hand facing you

  2. Make sure the keyway is facing upwards, with the Key pins inside the lock facing downwards

  3. Place the tension wrench small end at the bottom of the keyway, with the long end at the 4 O’clock.

  4. Place a small amount of pressure at the end of the tension wrench, in a clockwise direction (usually)

  5. Push the Pick with the hook/diamond point facing upwards to the back of the lock

  6. From back to front, push upwards on the pins so that you can find the pin that is Binding, i.e. the pin hat is the hardest to push upwards

  7. After the Binding Pin is set, and the plug rotates slightly, maintain pressure, and find the next binding pin by repeating the steps.

  8. Once all of the pins are set one after another, the Plug will turn, allowing you to unlock the lock by fully rotating the plug with the tension wrench.

    Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, I'm sure others will be dealing with the same problems as you.

Part 3
In Part 3 of the series, I will teach you how to open a lock with more force, and a technique called ‘Raking’ or ‘Scrubbing’.


Here is an animation I used when trying to understand

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