How to Get a Padlock to Open Without the Code


You can open a combination-locked padlock with a simple shim that can be made in a matter of minutes from an empty aluminum can. This is a handy solution if you've locked up valuables and have forgotten the code to your padlock and don't want to resort to cutting it open with pliers.

Things You'll Need

  • Razor blade
  • Empty aluminum can
  • Sharpie
  • Sharp scissors
  • Use a razor blade to cut a piece of an aluminum beer or soda can that is about 4 inches long and 1-inch wide. This piece will be the basis for your shim.

  • Draw a line lengthwise down the shim to divide it in half. Draw two additional lines lengthwise through the two halves of the shim so that the lines divide it into four, 1/4-inch strips.

  • Orientate your shim so that the short sides are at the top and bottom and the long sides are at the left and right. Draw a rounded, sideways "M" shape against the middle of the right side of the shim. The top two peaks of the "M" should go to the middle line of your shim. The rounded bottom of the "M" should go all the way to the edge of the side of the shim. This will become a rounded tab on the end of your shim that will push against the ball mechanism and will keep the padlock locked.

  • Cut the "M" shape out of the shim using sharp scissors.

  • Fold the left side of the shim along the left-most line that you drew on the shim. Fold the two flaps on the right side along the center line.

  • Shape the shim to fit around the left side of the padlock shackle. The padlock is held locked by a single-ball mechanism on the left side.

  • Push the shim down into the lock between the left shackle and the padlock shaft so that the shim's tab points down into the inside of the padlock. Twist the shim slightly to fit it into the lock as needed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure that the tab in the shim is very rounded. Any sharp edges that stick out may potentially get stuck in your lock and sabotage future attempts to open it, with or without the code.

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  • Photo Credit combination lock image by jimcox40 from
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