Lock picking

Lock picking is one of the most common ways to unlock a house or office door without damaging your locks. It is used by professional locksmiths all around the country for different types of lock.

From simple single sided Kwikset deadbolt to 6 pins Yale lever handle for offices, lock picking is a great way to get you back into your home or office, fast.

Interested in learning about lock picking and how does it work? We made it easy for you to know the basics. We asked a few locksmiths to share their knowledge about lock picking and to give us their insights.

In addition, we will discuss a few related issues to lock picking such as is lockpicking legal, what type of locks can be picked, does lock picking damage the lock, who can pick locks (burglars, locksmiths, etc), can you tell if a lock has been picked or tampered with, bump keys, which locks are pick resistance, what makes a lock pick resistant, pick tools and more.

But first things first.

what is lock picking and how does it work?

Lock-picking is the process of non-destructively opening a lock without the use of a conventional key. Understanding that there are many types of lock, we zoom in on the most common one called the pin tumbler lock. It is the traditional lock you see every day, from houses to offices.

First, we need to figure out the anatomy of the pin tumbler lock. It has six essential parts that we must learn to understand how the whole thing operates.

Housing.

If this lock was a turtle, the housing would be the outer shell that serves as enclosure. The housing is where the whole mechanism of the lock is located. Some locks, such as simple residential doorknobs have a relatively small housing, while grade 1 commercial lever handle can have a much bigger housing. The more pins the lock has, the bigger the housing.
Housing of a deadbolt lock (1)
Housing of a deadbolt lock
Lock cylinder
Lock cylinder

Cylinder.

This is where they key is inserted. Many keys can be inserted into a lock cylinder, as long as the have the same keyway. However, to turn the key you will have to have the right cuts. The cylinder is also known as plug.

Shear Line.

Considered one of the most important parts, this is the gap between the housing and the cylinder.
Driver pins of a non high security lock
Driver pins of a non high security lock

Driver Pins.

These are the top set of the pins usually found halfway between the housing and the plug. This is the part that restricts the plug from rotating freely when the key is turned inside it.

Key Pins.

These are the bottom set of pins that are of different lengths that fit perfectly to the bite of the key when inserted.

Key pins of a lock
Key pins of a lock
Pick tools used by a locksmith
Pick tools used by a locksmith

Springs.

These force driver pins into the plug to hold the plug from rotating.

Now that you know the different parts, the mechanism works this way: the key is inserted into the plug and it pushes the key pins flush with the shear line which makes the driver pins exit the cylinder. When the shear line matches the gap between the key pins and driver pins, then the key can turn the plug and successfully unlock.

The more pins a lock has, the hard it is to pick. Therefore, if you are interested in a more pick resistant, you should choose a lock that has at least 6 pins. (Schlage primus for example).

 

After familiarizing yourself with the components of the pin tumbler lock, the next step is having the right lock picking tools. Not a lot of tools are needed, and there are a lot of available picking sets online.

There are three common methods to lock picking: single pin picking, raking and pick gun.

Single Pin Picking

or also known as SPP is using a hook-type pick to individually bump up each pin in the cylinder. For beginners, this method can be quite challenging.

Raking,

on the other hand, is an easier way. This method is done by inserting the pick into the back of the lock then pulling it across the pins causing them to move up above the shear line.

Pick gun

This tool is a battery-operated pick tool. Instead of using your hand to move the pick tools up and down, the pick gun is doing exactly that for you, only faster and it doesn’t get tired. This is, by far, the preferred option used by locksmiths to unlock doors.

Pic gun and pick tools for lock picking
Pic gun and pick tools for lock picking
The easiest, safest and fastest way to pick a lock is to simply call a professional locksmith! We have a team of experts who can easily do the job. If you find yourself in need of a locksmith, give us a call and we’ll be there in no time!

FAQ Lock picking:

Q: Is lockpicking illegal?

A: Lockpicking isn’t illegal. You can own pick tools if you wish and practice the art of lock picking as a hobby. The only thing that is that its not easy to get pick tools or pick gun, and most places and distributers sell those tools only to a professional locksmith.

Q: What type of locks can be picked?

Key entry door knob lock kwikset parts ready to install by a locksmith
Key entry door knob lock kwikset parts ready to install by a locksmith

A: Any tumbler lock, which is pin operated, can be picked by common pick tools. In addition, there are even some high security locks that can be picked. It all depends on the pick tools you own. Most locks for residential use today can be, unfortunately, easily picked.

Moreover, even if you own a smart lock, it doesn’t make it any less harder to pick the lock. The only thing that makes things harder to pick a lock, is the number of pins the lock has. The more pins it has, the harder it is to pick.

Finally, remember that if you are interested in more secure locks, you should consider high security locks.

High security lock cylinder
High security lock cylinder

Q: Does lock picking damage the lock?

Keyed entry residential lock -lock picking shouldnt harm the locks
Keyed entry residential lock -lock picking shouldnt harm the locks

A: Lock picking shouldn’t damage either the lock or its pins. The process is completely harmless to the lock. The only thing you should worried about is breaking the pins inside the lock (if it’s an old one) but that’s highly unlikely.

Q: Who can pick locks (burglars, locksmiths, etc) and can you tell if a lock has been picked or tampered with?

Keyed entry residential lock -lock picking shouldnt harm the locks
Residential high security lock – much more harder to pick

A: Unfortunately, the art of lock picking can also be used by burglars and not only reputable locksmiths. However, while a professional locksmith can pick a lock pretty fast, usually within a couple of minutes, to a burglar the process may take longer. Furthermore, there is no easy way to tell if a lock has been picked or tampered with and therefore we highly recommend considering installing high security locks to reduce the changes of burglary or lock picking.

Q: What are bump keys, which locks are pick resistance or bump key resistance and what makes a lock pick resistant?

A: As mentioned above, there are locks that are more resistant to lock picking than others. These locks, also known as high security locks, have a different keyway. That means the key goes in in a different way and most often a unique cut to match the lock. Therefore, there are no pick tools, bump key and/ or pick gun that can unlock them. Of course, there is no 100%, but this is vert unlikely.

Below, is a picture of high security lock pins:

Key entry door knob lock kwikset parts ready to install by a locksmith
Rekey high security

The next picture is of a high security lock cylinder deadbolt on residential home:

Key entry door knob lock kwikset parts ready to install by a locksmith
High security deadbolt lock

Finally, the next picture is of a rekey kit for high security locks that are mostly lock picking resistant and high security cylinder for emergency device. Usually used for commercial purposes:

Key entry door knob lock kwikset parts ready to install by a locksmith
High security locks rekey kit
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