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 up your lock-in 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.
Locks can be a nuisance, especially when you’ve misplaced your keys or have locked yourself out of your house or car. Fortunately, with just one paperclip, you can learn how to pick a lock and get back inside in no time. This guide will show you how to pick a lock with one paperclip, step-by-step.
What You Need to Pick a Lock with One Paperclip
To pick a lock with one paperclip, you will need the following materials and tools:
- A large paperclip
- A pair of pliers
- A lock that you want to pick
The paperclip will serve as both your lockpick and your tension wrench. A lock pick is a tool that is used to manipulate the internal components of a lock, such as pins or wafers. A tension wrench is a tool that is used to apply rotational pressure to the plug of a lock, which is the part that turns when you insert the key.
To make your own lock pick and tension wrench from a paperclip, follow these steps:
- Unfold one end of the paperclip until it forms a straight segment. This will be your lockpick.
- Bend the tip of your lockpick slightly upward. This will help you lift and push down the pins or wafers inside the lock.
- Unfold another end of the paperclip until it forms a right angle. This will be your tension wrench.
- Bend the tip of your tension wrench slightly downward. This will help you insert it into the bottom of the keyhole and apply pressure.
Here are some tips and warnings for using these improvised tools:
- Make sure your paperclip is strong enough to withstand the pressure and movement. If it is too thin or weak, it might bend or break inside the lock, which can damage the lock or make it harder to pick.
- Make sure your paperclip is not too thick or wide. If it is too big, it might not fit into the keyhole or interfere with the internal components of the lock, which can prevent you from picking the lock.
- Be gentle and careful when using your paperclip tools. If you apply too much force or move them too fast, you might damage the lock or miss the subtle feedback that the lock gives you, which can make it harder to pick.
How to Identify the Type of Lock You Are Dealing With
Before you attempt to pick a lock with one paperclip, you need to identify the type of lock you are dealing with. There are many different types of locks in the world, and each one has its own mechanism and characteristics. Some locks are easier to pick than others, and some locks require different techniques or tools to pick.
The most common types of locks that you will encounter are:
- Pin tumbler locks
- Wafer locks
- Tubular locks
- Disc detainer locks
Pin tumbler locks are the most common type of lock found on doors, padlocks, and cabinets. They consist of a plug with a keyhole and a cylinder with pins of different lengths. When the correct key is inserted, the pins align with a gap called the shear line, allowing the plug to rotate and open the lock. If the wrong key or no key is inserted, the pins block the plug’s rotation and keep the lock closed.
Wafer locks are similar to pin tumbler locks but have flat metal pieces called wafers that slide up and down inside slots in the plug and cylinder. When the correct key is inserted, the wafers push the pins to align with the shear line, allowing the plug to rotate and open the lock. If the wrong key or no key is inserted, some pins remain above or below the shear line, blocking the plug’s rotation and keeping the lock closed.
Tubular locks have several rows of pins arranged in a circular pattern around the cylinder’s circumference. When the correct key is inserted, it pushes down all the pins to align with the shear line, allowing the plug to rotate and open the lock. If the wrong key or no key is inserted, some discs remain misaligned, blocking the sidebar from entering the slots and keeping the lock closed.
Here are some examples and images of these locks for reference:
How to Pick a Pin Tumbler Lock with One Paperclip
Now that you know how to identify a pin tumbler lock, which is the most common type of lock that you will encounter, you can learn how to pick it with one paperclip. The basic steps for picking a pin tumbler lock are:
- Insert your tension wrench into the bottom part of the keyhole and apply a slight clockwise pressure.
- Insert your lockpick into the upper part of the keyhole and gently rake it back and forth while lifting it slightly.
- Feel for the pins inside the lock and try to push them up until they reach the shear line.
- Listen for a click sound that indicates that a pin has been set at the shear line.
- Repeat this process until all the pins are set at the shear line and the plug rotates freely.
Here is a demonstration of how to pick a pin tumbler lock with one paperclip: video
Here are some tips and tricks for picking pin tumbler locks faster and easier:
- Use light tension on your tension wrench. If you use too much tension, you might bind or overset some pins, which can make it harder to pick the lock. If you use too little tension, you might lose the pins that you have already set, which can make you start over. You need to find the right balance of tension that keeps the pins at the shear line without binding them.
- Use a raking technique on your lockpick. Raking is a method of moving your lockpick back and forth inside the keyhole while lifting it slightly. This can help you set multiple pins at once or find the binding pin, which is the pin that is preventing the plug from rotating. You can also try different patterns of raking, such as zigzag, circular, or random motions.
- Use a feeler technique on your lockpick. Feeling is a method of probing each pin individually with your lockpick and applying upward pressure until you feel or hear a click. This can help you set the pins more precisely and avoid oversetting them. You can also try different angles and depths of probing, such as shallow, deep, or diagonal.
- Use feedback from the lock to guide your actions. Feedback is the information that the lock gives you through your tools, such as sound, vibration, or resistance. You can use feedback to determine which pin is binding, how much pressure to apply, and when to move on to the next pin. You need to pay attention to the subtle changes in feedback that indicate that you are making progress or making a mistake.
How to Pick Other Types of Locks with One Paperclip
You can also use the same method of picking a lock with one paperclip for other types of locks, such as wafer, tubular, and disc detainer locks. However, you need to adapt your technique and tools according to the differences and similarities between these locks and pin tumbler locks.
Here are some examples of how to pick other types of locks with one paperclip:
- A wafer lock is a type of lock with flat metal pieces, similar to pin tumbler locks, sliding up and down inside slots in a plug and cylinder. To pick a wafer lock, use a tension wrench and lock pick, but be gentle and careful due to the wafer’s sensitivity and potential for bends or breaks. Be aware of false sets, where some wafers align with the shear line but others don’t, to avoid tampering with the lock.
- A tubular lock is a type of lock with multiple rows of pins arranged in a circular pattern around the cylinder’s circumference. To pick a tubular lock with a paperclip, bend the tension wrench into a loop shape and apply pressure to one side of the plug. Bend the lock pick into a hook shape and set each pin individually until they align with the shear line, allowing the plug to rotate freely.
- A disc detainer lock is a unique type of lock consisting of rotating discs with slots. To pick it with a paperclip, use a tension wrench and lockpick. Apply pressure to the last disc at the back of the cylinder, creating tension on the other discs. Turn each disc individually until its slot aligns with a sidebar along the cylinder’s length. Once all slots are aligned, the sidebar enters, and the plug rotates freely.
This article teaches how to pick a lock with a single paperclip, make a lock pick, and tension wrench from a paperclip. It covers identifying the type of lock and picking different types with one paperclip. Lockpicking is useful in certain situations but can be illegal if used for breaking into someone’s property or violating privacy. It is recommended to use this skill for legitimate purposes with permission from the lock owner. To improve, try different types of locks with one paperclip or other improvised tools. Online resources and books can provide further information on lockpicking history, science, and art.