It can be annoying to get home late and not have your keys. Most people would typically seek shelter in a friend’s or neighbor’s home or through a window in such circumstances. In line with that, broaden your options by learning how to pick a lock using a paperclip. Lock picking has unfortunately long been considered a thief’s exclusive skill, but now is the time to master this crucial life tip.
In an ideal world, only trained lock pickers should use designated lock picks. Not to worry; in a matter of minutes, you can improvise lock-picking tools from a basic paper clip. To avoid turning to a criminal, we advise picking your locks or those of those who are only authorized in this situation. Even when changing your own locks, be discrete to prevent confusing on-the-lookout neighbors.
In light of this, follow this step-by-step tutorial to learn how to pick locks. Most importantly, the information in this article only applies to a small percentage of pin tumbler locks. Keyless door locks, for instance, may be more difficult to pick and necessitate a locksmith’s assistance because they are more expensive. But let’s learn how to pick locks using a paperclip or bobby pin.
What You Need
- Two paper clips. Since metal paper clips are more durable than plastic ones, we advise using them. Additionally, make sure your paperclip has a thin enough interior diameter to fit your lock. You can also use bobby pins or thin wires as an alternative.
- Pliers. The needle-nose pliers are the ideal set to use. This kind was created specifically to bend thin wires, such as those used in jewelry-making. Nevertheless, any pair of pliers will work in an emergency.
- A tumbler lock. It is best to practice on a practice lock before becoming proficient at picking locks with a paperclip. Therefore, a rear door lock would be ideal to prevent giving the wrong impression to onlookers.
Understanding the Lockset
A rotating barrel with a hole for each pin and several spring-loaded pins—the majority of locks have five—are found inside the lockset. A pin is inserted into each of the barrel’s holes, which are facing up when the door is locked. The key has to be inserted so that it can force all of the pins up and out of the barrel before the barrel will turn.
Each pin must be inserted at a different depth and raised to a different height in order to clear the barrel, giving the key a unique set of notches for the lock it operates. Because the pins are spring-loaded, the key must simultaneously hold them all up. You won’t have a key, so you’ll have to do this with a paper clip, so keep that in mind.
Process of Picking a Lock With a Paperclip
Step 1: Create a Tension Wrench
Start by using your pliers to straighten your two paper clips before attempting to pick a lock with them. The best way to make your paper clips straight is to unfold them on the first two bends. You should now have an L-shaped clip with an additional loop handle after straightening. Given that it will make breaking into a lock simple, the first step should be taken carefully.
The tension wrench’s straight end is designed to fit through a keyhole. An all-straight tension wrench is insufficient in some situations, though, necessitating a slight bend at the tip. This slight curve should be an estimated 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) at a right angle (900). Locksmiths claim that this bend, though it’s not required, will easily depress the pins in a lock.
Using pliers makes it simpler to create a tension wrench. If it’s not available, you can use your fingers carefully. In emergencies, we essentially seek out the most straightforward answer.
The two straight wires can also be used to create a rake. Pinch the tip of your paper clip with the pliers to create the first ridge from the long portion of the second paperclip. Subsequently, make three consecutive 450 bends to achieve a zig-zag shape that mimics a key’s edge. With more success than a straight slip, a rake is typically one of the best strategies for beginners.
Step 2: Insert Your Tension Wrench into the Keyhole
To begin locating the pins, place your tension wrench’s short end and lock pick into the keyhole. A tumbler lock should ideally have spring-loaded driver pins that, when the right key is used to align them, hold down the key pins to create a shear line. Since the first driver pin is the most challenging to move, you should start picking it first.
Use pressure to turn the tension wrench after inserting the picking tools in the keyhole. It might take a few tries to find the proper pressure to apply. Applying too much pressure will cause your lock picks to twist, whereas using insufficient pressure will prevent you from picking the lock. Then, using the tension wrench to lift each wire just a little bit, check each one for stiffness.
Once your lock pick reaches the shear line, you will be able to feel your pins inside giving if you apply enough pressure. To move the pins if there is resistance, gently jiggle your pick. It’s important to note that you will have to buy a brand-new lock if your pick breaks inside of it.
Insert the Rake
The internal key pins are lifted by the rake in order to aid the tension wrench in turning the lock. Completely insert the rake into the lock on top of the tension wrench’s top. Jiggle your pick upwards while raking it to possibly set off a few pins.
Jiggling ought to be swift but avoid yanking the rake out. But as long as you maintain pressure, the process ought to go without a hitch. It might take some practice to master this process.
Step 3: Turn the Pick in the Direction the Door Lock Turns
The proper direction should be turned in addition to using paper clips to pick a door lock in order to unlock it. Simply put, turn your picks in the direction of a standard key. We are aware, though, that it can be challenging to determine which side lock turns to make when turning your tension wrench.
When in doubt, turn clockwise to open your lock. If you experience a lot of pressure, turn your wrench in the opposite or counterclockwise direction. The less tension you experience while turning will indicate that you are turning your wrench in the right direction. If the resistance sense is ineffective, you can choose any direction and switch in that direction until the lock opens.
We insist on exerting enough pressure on the wrench even with a delicate touch. As your rake picks each pin, this feature will facilitate a successful lock pick. You will therefore have a 50/50 chance of successfully picking a lock on your first attempt.
Step 4: Look for Lock Pins to Set Them Off
Push your rake all the way up and start looking for pins in your locked door. Most commonly used household locks typically have at least five pins. So, while applying slight twists, scrub your rake up and down. By holding the driver pin as the key pin falls, this method functions similarly to a key.
As a result, most locks’ pins will click as you remove them. Your door will unlock once all of the pins have been activated or unlocked. Notably, quick, fluid movements will work well for this process while still preventing you from yanking out your paperclip. Picking locks requires trial and error, for this reason.
Repeat the Scrubbing When Necessary
Repeat the raking until the pins inside have been successfully set off because it is a trial-and-error process. Repeat the process while keeping in mind that excessive pressure will prevent the driver pins from aligning but will be necessary to unlock your door. Also, if you don’t hear clicking noises, you’ll know you’ve reduced resistance and are successfully picking the locks.
Step 5: Torque Open
Your lock will open once all the pins have been pushed and unset, and you won’t remember having misplaced your key. Bingo! You can now open the majority of interior and exterior doors even without your keys. Learn how steel doors can transform your home in the section on doors. Don’t forget to take out the paper clips when you’re finished.
Tips on How to Pick a Door Lock With a Paperclip
It’s crucial to be careful when using a paperclip to pick a lock after learning how. You can pick any lock you come across with care and regular practice, but always in a legal manner. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you go through the process to aid you even more.
1. Be Gentle
In order to activate the pins, pressure is necessary, but using too much will make the process frustrating. Additionally, as was already mentioned earlier in the procedure, too much pressure could result in the paper clip breaking or twisting. Unfortunately, in the worst case, a broken clip in a lock makes it beyond repair.
The use of paper clips for lock picking is therefore not advised for someone with a heavy hand. Ideally, as you twist your lock pick, don’t bend it more than 20 degrees. Unfortunately, it might not be simple to calculate the radius of a 20-degree bend in an emergency. Therefore, using a flow and little tension inside the lock is a simpler approach.
2. Perfect through Practice
The only way to master the art of lock picking is through relentless practice. With practice, you won’t need to continually refer to detailed instructions on “how to pick a lock with a paperclip” in the future. Lock picking isn’t for everyone, as you can tell by the need for practice.
Despite the simplistic impression from movies, the first few attempts may be difficult. You might have to spend a lot of time fiddling with your paperclips. But eventually, as your confidence grows, you’ll be able to unlock your own door and even impart the skill of lock picking to others.
3. Use Thin Paperclips
While we do insist on sturdy paperclips, make sure they are thin enough to fit through the keyhole. On the other hand, heavy picks could damage your door lock by breaking or bending them. Therefore, the last thing you want to do while picking a lock is bend. Remember that the more you use them, the faster they lose their rigidity, even as you try to use thin paper clips.
4. Not All Padlocks Are Equal
De-icing the lock is the first step in picking it up while it’s winter. Your paperclip lock pick will be able to freely rotate in the keyhole once the ice has been removed. You might also run into a rusted-out old lock. This latter circumstance may be challenging and call for additional time and lubrication to prevent potentially dangerous bending.
5. Clean After Picking
You might find some plastic shards in the keyhole after picking. Every time you use paper clips with a plastic coating, this is a common occurrence. Additionally, paper clips without coating leave metallic fragments inside locks.
After picking your lock, clean it to get rid of these pieces. To remove these fragments, we advise using a fine straw and compressed air. You will observe that fine particles emerge when you use a lubricant that blows. Lock jamming can be avoided with cleaning.
For emergencies, the outside knob of the majority of interior locksets has a pinhole. To replace the pinhole door knob key, all you need to pick one of these locks is a single paper clip that has been straightened out. To unlock the door, push on the paper clip while it is inserted into the pinhole.
Are Lock Picking Kits Illegal?
You can use a lock-picking kit rather than just a paper clip to open a locked door. There are no laws governing lock picking, so don’t worry about the legality of such kits. So long as you are the owner or have permission, you can pick any lock, whether using a kit or a paper clip.
Can You Damage a Lock by Picking It?
We can all agree that picking locks are not the ideal way to gain access to your own home. Even so, if you don’t do it frequently, your lock should be safe. Lock picking could also ruin your lock by destroying its internal springs. We have also determined that a lock may become permanently damaged if a pick is broken inside of it.