How to Use a Lock Pick Kit

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Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, picking a lock is a little harder than poking it with a paperclip or running a credit card down the door frame. Real lock picking takes practice, skill and a lot of patience.
If you've bought a lock picking kit and you're not sure what all of those little pieces of metal are supposed to do, read on.

Things You'll Need

  • Lock pick kit Tension wrench Lock to practice on
  • The first step to picking a lock is gaining a good understanding of how locks work. Imagine a small tube surrounded by a larger tube. The smaller tube is the spinning barrel of the lock, where you will insert your tools. The larger tube is housing of the lock, which is stationary. When the barrel of the lock spins in the housing, the lock pulls the bolt, and you can open the door.
    The trouble is, there are pieces inside the lock that exist solely to keep the barrel from spinning. Insert the right key, and these pieces are satisfied and the lock opens easily. Your objective is to use your lock pick to move these internal parts, which consist of several sets of tiny metal pins.

  • Before you start manipulating the pins, you have to put some torque, or circular tension, on the lock. Take the tension wrench, which is the L-shaped tool in your kit, and insert the short part into the lower edge of the lock and turn it very gently in the direction that you would turn the key. Using your left hand (or your right hand if you are left-handed), hold the tension wrench in place.

  • Chose one of your lock picks to work with. For beginners, it's best to start simple; pull out the simplest-looking pick in your set. This will probably be a simple rake, which is the pick with the U-shaped bump at the end. Put the pick slowly into the lock, with the tip facing upwards. You will feel the pins push upward as you go deeper into the lock. Pushing these pins up does not in itself open the lock. That would be way too easy.
    If the pins push up too high, they prevent the lock from spinning. If they don't push high enough, the second pin, which is stacked on top of the first pin, hangs too low, and again prevents the barrel from spinning.

  • Keeping tension on your wrench, gently pull the pick back along the bottom of the pins. This is called raking and is the simplest form of lock picking. You can also pick each pin separately, but this requires much more patience and precision. For now, pull the pick slowly and gently in and out of the lock. The lock will probably not open for you right away, but just for fun, pull the pick out and slowly let the tension on the wrench drop. Hear those little clicks? Those are the successfully bumped pins dropping back. You may hear two or three drop. Most locks have five or six, so you're getting close.

  • Rake the lock, trying different pressures and speeds. When you caress the pins just right, the lock will smoothly and quickly spin open. No need to force the spin with the tension wrench. Once you treat the pins right, the lock will open easily.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lock picking is a skill that takes a practiced touch. Do not be discouraged if you aren't able to open a lock right away. Your sense of touch is very important in lock picking, but don't forget to use your eyes and ears to understand and interact with the lock.
  • Use your lock pick set to open only locks that belong to you. Don't attempt to break into someone else's property, even if it's just for fun or practice. It's not worth it. Be aware of the laws in your state governing lock picks. In many places, carrying tools that can be considered burglary tools is illegal.

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