How To Use A Paper Clip To Pick A Lock

If you don't have a locksmith, sometimes you need to pick locks with paper clips. Advice for easily getting into locked areas.

Locking yourself out of your home can be terribly frustrating and stressful. If you don't have a spare key it usually means you'll have to break a window, damage a door, or call a locksmith. Replacing a broken door or window can be very costly and locksmiths have a tendency to take you for all you've got, too! Instead of paying someone top dollar to pick your lock in just twenty seconds, try doing it yourself! Using a paper clip or bobby pin to pick a lock seems far fetched when you see it done on television, but really, it's a useful tool to have when locked out of your home.

To pick a lock you'll first have to understand how the lock works. A lock cylinder is made up of two major parts, the cylinder and the housing. The housing contains the springs and what are referred to as top pins. The cylinder is outfitted with the base pins; these are the pins that your key actually touches. The top pins are all the same size as are the springs. The cylinder pins are of varying lengths, which match the cuts in your key. In a standard five pin cylinder there are a total of ten pins, five top and five base pins.

All locks have what is called a shear line. This is where all the pins line up to allow the cylinder to rotate and open. The shear line is important when it comes to picking a lock. Take a close look at one of your house keys; you will notice high and low spots. The low spots control the height of the lower cylinder pins creating the shear line when the key is inserted. If you count the low spots, you will notice whether you have a five pin or six pin lock. Most home and office locks are of the five pin variety.



Picking a lock involves the use of a tool such as a paper clip, stiff piece of wire, or a hairpin. A small screwdriver that can be used as a tension wrench will also be needed. Put a slight turning pressure on the lock cylinder with the small screwdriver. At the same time, move the paper clip in and out slowly and gently press up on the base pins, until the pins stay up and all pins reach the shear line. The first time you try to pick a lock, it may take a long time, but patience will pay off. With experience, you'll be able to pick a lock in a matter of seconds.

Locks that contain "anti-pick" pins may be difficult or impossible to pick. Even a professional locksmith may have great difficulty getting these types of locks open with his special picking tools. Knowing what kind of lock you're dealing with will help you determine if it's something you can do yourself or not. Practice picking locks and the next time you lock your keys in the house, you'll keep your windows and doors intact, and your pocket lined with a bit of cash you didn't fork over to the locksmith.

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