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UER Forum > UE Encyclopedia > Lock Picks / Lock Picking (Viewed 19313 times)
Entry: Lock Picks / Lock Picking
originally posted by Slickis

[last edit 12/7/2020 10:23 AM by Jack Koch - edited 17 times]

Lock picking involves two basic components:

  • Picks - Long, thin pieces of metal that curve up at the end (like a dentist's pick). They are used to reach into the lock and push the pins up
  • Tension wrench - Tension wrenches come in all shapes and sizes. Functionally, they aren't very complex. The simplest sort of tension wrench is a thin flathead screwdriver.

The first step in picking a lock is to insert the tension wrench into the keyhole and turn it in the same direction that you would turn the key. This turns the plug so that it is slightly offset from the housing around it. As you can see in the diagram below, this creates a slight ledge in the pin shafts.

While applying pressure on the plug, you insert a pick into the keyhole and begin lifting the pins. The object is to lift each pin pair up to the level at which the top pin moves completely into the housing, as if pushed by the correct key. When you do this while applying pressure with the tension wrench, you feel or hear a slight click when the pin falls into position. This is the sound of the upper pin falling into place on the ledge in the shaft. The ledge keeps the upper pin wedged in the housing, so it won't fall back down into the plug.

In this way, you move each pin pair into the correct position until all of the upper pins are pushed completely into the housing and all of the lower pins rest inside the plug. At this point, the plug rotates freely and you can open the lock.

Conceptually, the lock-picking process is quite simple, but it is a very difficult skill to master. Locksmiths have to learn exactly the right pressure to apply and what sounds to listen for. They also must hone their sense of touch to the point where they can feel the slight forces of the moving pins and plug. Additionally, they must learn to visualize all the pieces inside the lock. Successful lock picking depends on complete familiarity with the lock's design.


Wafer locks (cam locks etc.):
These locks are picked the same way a Pin and tumbler (lock described above), but the actual mechanics inside the lock are different. The idea is the same- you have to raise the wafers (equivalent of pins) to the exact point so that there is nothing keeping the plug from turning. I won't go into detail all you need to know is that it's picked the exact same way as a pin-and-tumbler lock, and is actually much easier. You might want to use the ball picks instead of hooks or half diamond picks though...

Tubular Locks (such as bike locks... the key is round):
These locks work the same way as a pin-and-tumbler lock except the pins are situated around a circle. If you look at a key there are grooves in the side that press the pins down to a certain level and allow the lock to open. To pick these you *have* to buy a professional pick ($80-$400). Once you get a pick it is quite easy to pick these locks...

Warded Locks (easy to identify because of the lightning-shaped key hole/dust cover):
I'm not going to go into detail on how these locks work because they are really easy to pick. Go online and buy the skeleton key set (about $10) and that will open almost any warded lock.

Combo Locks:
Because these are hard to explain w/o pictures I recommend going to to learn how they work. Let me explain one thing- it is IMPOSSIBLE to simply manipulate the dial and use touchy freely to find the combo. On certain brands of lock you can narrow the list down to 60 combos or so, but it takes a long time. What I recommend is using a shim to open these locks (*sometimes* works). This is the same idea as using a credit card in a door... you use the shim and force the "finger" back into the casing of the lock which is the only thing keeping the shackle down. It will pop open in seconds...

Here's a bit on how to make your own lock picks:
What you need: Strips of Spring steel (about 2 cm wide) ... OR hacksaw blades (don't last as long and tend to break), and a grinder/Dremel of some kind.
Ok, first you go online and do research on locks and stuff, take some apart etc. to get an idea of scaling, then you simply use your grinder to grind the steel down to the right shape. All in all I would recommend buying some... might I recommend

http://home.howstu.../lock-picking6.htm << here is a great diagram of picking a pin-and-tumbler lock. Of course it takes a lot longer than that, but still worth the look.

Note on security pins - Some locks are fitted with special security pins. These pins (bottom pins) are shaped like a spool (or like a capital "I") or like a mushroom and cause the plug to turn prematurely, making them very (very very very) difficult to pick.

Notes on different brands of locks:
Best - One of the main players in interchangeable core systems. The keying is combinated into the core and this system allows the door to be rekeyed by simply replacing the core with other doors or spares. The system also supports a very large master keyed system and as such, Best is very common in large institutions and schools.

Their well known version is the SFIC, or Small Format Interchangeable Core

Typical Best SFIC Core. "A" keyway shown. Available in 5 to 7 pins. Specially cut "control key" is used to remove the core from its cylinder.
73821.jpg (28 kb, 310x440)
click to view

Masterlock - despite common belief, Masterlock locks are crappy. Well, they are not as good as others I should say. Most of them are easy to pick. No security pins (on most cheaper padlocks)... the most common padlock you'll see is the Masterlock No. 3 lock. (blue band around the bottom). Very easy to pick.

Medeco - High security locks with unique design. Unlike usual keys, Medeco keys have angled cuts making it damn hard to to pick (even for a pro. locksmith). Their new Bi-Axial series keys are protected against duplication by utility patents and the keyholes are fitted with a hardened steel insert to resist drill attacks.

Schlage - Well made locks usually on house doors as well as commercial buildings. Offers wide range of locks. Their SFIC series is very similar to BEST.

American - They make *really really really* good padlocks. Really a bitch to pick... 2 security pins I think. Slots 2 and 4 if my memory serves me...
Yale - Medium/Low quality. To my knowledge no security pins on most locks...
Kwikset - One of the most common residential door lock. There are only two keyways. The common KW1 and their premium key.

And heres a bit on where you would find different types of locks:

Cam locks (wafer locks) - desks, cabinets, low-security etc.
Deadbolts (pin-and-tumbler) - Houses, offices, on outside doors (usually)
Padlocks (pin-and-tumbler, Warded, sometimes tubular) - Gates, and many other places

Snake Eyes also added comments about each of the pictures...
Southord MPXS-62 lock pick set (about $140 new)
Lock picking gun, it snaps up really quick, and if you apply pressure at just the right moment it traps the driver pins in the casing and turns the plug.

A retractable lockpick with the ability to store the tension wrench inside.


There are also things called bump keys. They work off of the principle of Newtons Cradle. (the thing that sat on your teachers desk with the balls hanging by string. You move one ball and let it fall, the ball on the other end moves out and it goes back and forth till it runs out of energy.) Bump keys work the the premises that you take a regular key made for the lock your about to pick. Take that key and file it down to the maximum tooth setting. Called a 999 key. Take that key and insert it into the lock. Now, take a hammer and lightly tap the key while applying slight pressure to the side. Eventually the pins will jump up and the lock will open. It takes a few hits and little practice. See Bump Keying

UER forum:

TOOOL(The Open organization Of Lockpickers)

YouTube video:
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