Lock picking is the manipulation of the components of a lock, in order to open it, without using the proper key. Although lock picking may conjure up images of criminal activity, this is not always the case. The following information is not to be used for illegal purposes but as a guide to assist in the event of a lockout.When keys to a residence, shed, or even a bike lock are lost, calling a locksmith doesnít have to be the only option. With a basic understanding of how the different types of locks work, it may be possible to pick the lock without damaging it.
Cylinder Locks:Most deadbolts use a cylinder type lock with a pin and tumbler design. When a key is inserted into this type of lock, the pins are pushed the correct length and fall into their housing so that the key can turn and the lock can be opened.If this is to be done manually, without the proper key, each pin will need to be pushed into place individually. Professional lock pickers use a tool called a tension wrench along with a pick.The tension wrench, which could be replaced by a screwdriver, is inserted into the keyhole and turned in the same direction as the key would. This will slightly turn the plug and offset it from the housing. Once this is done, a small pick must be used in the keyhole to manually pop each pin into place. It sounds much easier than it actually is. Using the proper tension, listening for the sound of the pin popping into the housing, and having the correct feel for the lock to actually pick the lock successfully takes a lot of practice. If you have never attempted this before, it may not be the best way to open your deadbolt when locked out.Another technique, which is much easier, is called Ďraking.í The type of tool used for raking is a pick or instrument that is thin enough to fit in the keyhole but has a slightly wider tip. The raking tool is inserted all the way to the back of the plug and then pulled out very quickly. Ideally, this action causes the pins to bounce into place as the tool is pulled out. As the rake exits, the plug is turned with the tension wrench or screwdriver. If all of the pins havenít popped completely into place this may have to be repeated until the correct results are achieved. When all the pins are in place, the screwdriver will easily turn the plug and the lock will open.
Wafer Tumbler Lock:This type of lock works on the same premise as the pin and tumbler design, but is actually easier to pick because instead of pins, there are wafer shaped tumblers and the keyhole is generally larger.The wafers are pulled to the correct length by the key and are all retracted into the plug allowing it to turn. The raking method canít be used on this type of lock, although the wafers just need to be pushed to the correct length while turning the tension wrench and applying a slight amount of pressure. This type of lock is used on many cabinets, lockers, and cars. With a bit of practice, the wafer tumbler lock is relatively easy to pick.
For additional information on lock picking use the links provided. Having this knowledge can be helpful in lockout situations.
How Stuff Works: A Guide to Lock Picking
Guide to Lock Picking the Different Varieties of Locks
How Stuff Works: Pin and Tumbler Locks
Lock Picking 101: Forum
Step by Step Lock Picking with Diagrams
Lock Picking for Beginners
Tools that can be used to Pick a Lock
Lock Picking Tips from a Brooklyn Locksmith
Picking a Lock with Household Items
How to Guide to Lock Picking
Locked Out Website with Lock Picking Instructions
Picking Pin Tumbler Locks
Picking a Lock with a Pin and Pen
Lock Picking Video Instructions
How to Beat the Pins When Lock Picking
How to Pick a Tubular Lock