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How to Pick Locks

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Learn How to Pick Locks

Lock picking is defined as the manipulation of a specific lock’s components. Doing so is designed to open a lock without using the proper key. In order to learn how to pick a lock, you must first figure out how that lock works. There are many different types of locks. However, most locks feature similar concepts.

The most common lock is the deadbolt lock. A deadbolt lock features a bolt that can be moved. It is embedded in the door so that it can be extended out. In addition, the bolt should be lined up with a notch that is placed on the frame of the door.

Leveraging the Bolt

When the lock is turned, the bolt is designed to extend into the notch that is on the door. This keeps the door from moving.

There are many types of deadbolt locks. For example, there is a cylinder lock, a pin and tumbler lock, a wafer tumbler lock, and a tubular lock.

How Cylinder Locks Work

A cylinder lock is the more common type of deadbolt lock. When the key turns the cylinder, it also turns an attached cam. When the plug turns a certain way, that cam will pull in on the bolt. This will let the door open. However, when the plug turns the opposite way, the cam will release the bolt. The spring will snap the bolt into place so the door will not open.

Inside each cylinder lock, there is a puzzle that the correct key will be able to solve. Solving the puzzle is the only way to open the door. One of the most common types of cylinder locks is the pin and tumbler lock. Unfortunately, it is the easiest cylinder lock to pick.

How Pin and Tumbler Locks Work

The main part of a pin and tumbler lock is the series of tiny pins. These pins feature different lengths. In addition, these pins are divided into pairs.

Each pin pair is placed in a shaft that runs through the main cylinder plug. In addition, the pin pair runs into the housing that is around the plug.

There are springs that are placed at the top of the shafts. These springs keep the pin pairs in place inside the plug. When no key is inserted into the lock, the bottom pin of each pair will be completely inside of the plug. However, the upper pin will only be halfway in the plug and in the housing. The fact that the upper pins are only halfway in the plug and housing will keep the plug from turning when the wrong key is inserted.

Picking a Pin and Tumbler Lock

When it comes to a pin and tumbler lock, the correct key will position all of the pins in a way that all of the lower pins will be in the plug. All of the upper pins will be in the housing. In order to pick a pin and tumbler lock you will need to move each pair of pins into the proper position.

This needs to be done individually. There are essentially two major things that you need in order to pick a pin and tumbler lock. You need the following tools:

  • A tension wrench may come in many different shapes in sizes. The easiest tension wrench to use is a thin flathead screwdriver.
  • A pick is a thin and long piece of metal. Picks curve up at the end and are used to reach into the pin and tumbler lock. You will use picks to push all of the pins up.

First Steps

The first thing that you need to do when you are picking a pin and tumbler lock involves the tension wrench. You have to put the tension wrench into the keyhole.

After you have done this, you should turn the tension wrench as you would turn a key. Turning the tension wrench like a key turns the plug. By turning the plug, it is a little offset from the housing that is around the plug. This creates a small ledge for the upper pins.

While you continue applying pressure on the plug with the tension wrench, you need to insert the pick into the keyhole. Begin lifting the pins in the lock. Your main objective by doing this is to lift each individual pin up to their proper place. In other words, the top pins should move all the way into the housing.

If you do this while still applying pressure with the wrench, you should be able to hear or feel a tiny click when each pin falls into the proper position. The sound that you hear is the sound of the upper pin falling onto the ledge in the shaft.

Step 2

Move each pin pair into the proper position. Continue doing so until all of the upper pins are in the housing. All of the lower pins should be inside of the plug. After you have finished this process, the plug should be rotating freely. This means you should be able to open the door now.

Although this may sound simple enough, there is no doubt that lock picking is an extremely hard skill to master. There are many things that you have to learn in order to become experienced in this area. Things that you need to learn include the following:

  • You must learn what sounds you should listen for
  • You must figure out the right amount of pressure that you should apply
  • You must learn how to feel the moving pins and the moving plug
  • You must learn about each lock design until you can imagine the inside of the lock

Lock Picking with the Raking Technique

Unfortunately, using the raking technique to pick a lock is not as precise as literally picking the lock is. In order to rake a lock, you have to use a pick that has a wider tip than the regular pick that you would use. Insert this wider pick all the way into the back of the plug.

After you have done this, you normally start the rest of the lock picking process by raking all of the pins with the pick that has a wider tip. After you have done this, you can pick whatever pins are left individually.

Lock Picking with a Master Key

Master keys are undoubtedly an interesting form of technology. This is mainly because the owner of a master key can get past a large number of locks without needing the actual key for the given lock. However, a master key will only work on a set of locks that are designed to work for that key and the regular key.

A master key can open locks that are in the same group. Where these locks are concerned, there are a few pairs of pins that are separated by a third pin. This third pin is known as a spacer. These types of locks are not like pin and tumbler locks.

There are two different ways that you can position the pins in such a way that the lock is opened. These methods can only be used when there are three pins that are combined together in the shaft. The methods used include the following:

  • A change key has the ability to raise the pins in such a way that the shear line is above the top of the master wafer
  • A master key has the ability to raise the pins in such a way that the shear line is at the bottom of the master wafer

In the cases of the master key and the change key there has to be a gap at the shear line. Without the gap, the key will not be able to turn.

With this type of lock, the lowest pin will normally be the same length for each and every lock that is in a group for the master key. However, the master wafer will normally vary in length. Master keys are designed to let one person access a number of different locks. Those who do not have the master key can only access the lock that matches their change key.

Re-keying a Pin and Tumbler Lock

The interesting thing about a pin and tumbler lock is the fact that it is possible to reconfigure them. You can reconfigure a pin and tumbler lock in order to make an existing key fit into that lock. However, this can only work if that key can be used on the same lock design.

There are many advantages to being able to rekey a pin and tumbler lock. For example, a homeowner can add new locks to the household without having to obtain extra keys. There can be a universal key for all of the locks in the household.

In order to make a new key for a lock that already exists, you will need to cut a certain number of notches into the key in question. The notches that you cut into the key will have to raise every upper pin in the lock. The pins should be raised above the shear line.

Looking for Lock Patterns

Each lock features a puzzle that you need to solve. Each key for that lock solves the puzzle. You need to cut a pattern into the key and that pattern should match the pattern of the pins that are in the lock.

If you wish to change a lock to match the pattern of your key, you will need to do the exact opposite. You have to work on the lock instead of the key. This involves changing the pattern of the pins that are in the lock until those pins match the pattern of the notches that are on your key.

How to Rekey a Pin and Tumbler Lock

If the lock has been designed by using a universal keying system, then almost any locksmith can rekey the lock in a fast and timely manner.

The average lock is a basic lock that features six pins. To begin the rekeying process, you will need to open up the shafts that are inside of the cylinder. After you have done this, you will need to empty out the shafts. There will be twelve pins and six springs.

All of the upper pins should be the same size. Having said this, the six pins that are of varying sizes will be the lower pins. The lower pins are the pins that match the notches on your key. They will also be the pins that you will replace.

The process of rekeying a pin and tumbler lock is very simple. You will remove all of the pins from the cylinder. After you have done this, you will need to obtain new lower pins. The new lower pins should fit the notches of your key perfectly. If they do not fit perfectly your key will not work on the lock. They should fit between the notches of your key and the shear line.

Pushing the Upper Pins

Once you insert the new key into the lock, the lower pins should be able to push all of the upper pins above the shear line. Pushing the upper pins above the shear line should let the cylinder turn in a simple fashion. However, this process normally depends on the design of the pin and tumbler lock.

It does not matter how long your upper pins are. This is because all of the upper pins will rest above the shear line when the key is inserted into the lock. Since this is the case, you will not need to worry about replacing any of the upper pins. All you need to do is put the six upper pins back into the lock.

Picking Wafer Tumbler Locks

Wafer tumbler locks work kind of like pin and tumbler locks. However, the difference is the fact that wafer tumbler locks feature thin tumblers that look like wafers instead of pins. Picking a wafer tumbler lock is a lot like picking pin and tumbler locks. In fact, it is a little easier than picking a pin and tumbler lock since wafer tumbler locks feature a wider keyhole.

Some wafer tumbler locks feature single wafers instead of pairs of wafers. These wafers are loaded with a spring that extends the wafers out of the cylinder. This causes the wafers to bind with the housing of the lock.

All of the wafers have a hole in the center of it. The key is supposed to fit through these holes. If the proper key is used, it will pull all of the wafers down so that all of them are pushed into the plug. If an incorrect key is used, it will do one of two things:

  • It can pull the wafers down only part of the way. Nothing will happen.
  • It can pull the wafers down too far. This will cause the wafers to be extended out of the other side of the plug.

Picking a Wafer Tumbler Lock Featuring Double Wafer Locks

Double wafer locks feature wafer tumblers on both sides of a plug instead of just one side of the plug. In order to pick a double wafer lock, you will need to work on the wafers that are on both sides of the plug. Do this as you apply the correct amount of pressure with your tension wrench. Wafer locks are normally found on lockers, cars and filing cabinets.

The Tools of a Lock Picker

The more experienced lock pickers can get by with just a normal screwdriver and a few paper clips. However, the lock picking process can be easier when you have the proper tools.

For example, a basic kit for picking a lock normally includes different picks and a tension wrench. The picks normally vary in head shapes. Different head shapes work with different picking techniques and with different locks.

There are a few different lock pickers who use an electric pick gun. An electric pick gun normally consists of one or more pieces of metal that vibrate when the gun is turned on. These vibrating pieces of metal are normally created to look like picks.

Electric Pick Gun

In order to use an electric pick gun, you will insert the pieces of metal into the lock then turn on the gun. While the pieces of metal are vibrating, the pins will be pushed up. An electric pick gun is almost like an automatic raking tool. This is because it is almost exactly like raking a lock.

You are supposed to turn the gun as the pieces of metal vibrate. By doing this, you will be able to catch some of the pins. Most of the pins will be pushed at the shear line. After doing this, you can push the rest of the pins up as you normally would. Using an electric pick gun can work in a matter of seconds. However, many do not use this because it takes away the puzzle of a lock.

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This page was last modified on 3 August 2013, at 17:52.
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