Basic Picking

Quick check

Assuming you now have an easy lock, a pick, for example, a hook or a half diamond, and a torsion tool, you are ready to try your first lock. Many people start with a simple padlock, as you can sit anywhere at any time to try it. Also, we are assuming that you know how this lock works. This last point is important, as you need to keep in mind what is going on inside the lock, and that is almost entirely done by feel. Once the tools are in place, looking rarely helps, and often takes your mind off the task. Most lock pickers, while picking locks, look aimlessly into space and look like simpletons — some more than others — but they are thinking hard about what is going on.

If you can, check with a good lock picker that your lock can be opened with your tools, and that he/she thinks that this is a good combination to try. Lock picking is learnt in stages, but there are several routes to the same end. So if one route does not work for you, there are others that can be tried.

Some people learn to pick locks with all but one pin removed, and then add pins one at a time, until they are picking all of them at once. This can be a very useful method, but it is possible with simple locks to go for all of them at once right from the start. First we will consider the all-at-once approach, but we consider other methods later, if this does not work.

The all-at-once approach to picking your first pin-tumbler lock

Stage 1: no security pins

We will first cover the case of a lock with no security pins, as this is the simplest case, and once that is mastered we will go on to the case of a simple lock with security pins.

Finding the picking force

First, feel inside the lock with your pick (don't worry about the tension tool for a moment), and try to check each pin in turn. The pins will feel springy (as they are on springs), and you should be able to count the pins, and note carefully how much force you needed to move them. In most cases, this force is much less than most people imagine. Picking a lock is not like eating a tough piece of beef, and the most common error at every stage is to use too much force. So the force you have used to push the pins with no tension tool inserted is almost the force needed when picking.

Finding the right tension-tool force

Put the tension tool into the lock as shown in the photo below.

<add a good photo here if you have one>

When you apply a small turning force on the lock in the direction that you would turn the key, the tumbler will rotate a little bit. Keep in mind what the smallest force is that takes up the slack in the lock. This is almost the force you will need when you pick the lock, at least until the pins are set. More force might be needed to open the lock once the pins are set, but we will come to that later.

Using both tools at once — picking the lock

Stage 2: with some security pins

<How to pick your first lock with security pins.>

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