How to Pick a Standard Door Lock

Written by contributing writer
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If you find yourself locked out of your home or office, there are ways to get back inside. You can call a locksmith, but it may be expensive and time consuming. Alternately, you can pick the lock yourself. All you need is a few simple tools to get the door open.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pick
  • Tension wrench

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  1. 1

    Insert the tension wrench into the lower portion of the keyhole. It should slide in easily.

  2. 2

    Turn the tension wrench in the direction necessary to unlock the lock and hold it there. This is the direction in which you would normally turn the key.

  3. 3

    Insert the pick into the top portion of the keyhole. You will be able to feel the individual pins of the lock with the pick's end. Most standard door locks have four or five pins.

  4. 4

    Press the tip of the pick up into each pin, noting how difficult it is to push each individual pin up.

  5. 5

    Apply pressure to the most stubborn pin, the pin that is the hardest to push up, until it clicks into place. You want this pin to be up and completely out of the cylinder's way.

  6. 6

    Repeat the same process with all the remaining pins. Apply pressure individually until each pin sets into place.

  7. 7

    Continue applying the torque pressure to the tension wrench while you push up the individual pins. If you release that pressure, the pins will fall back down into the cylinder. You can vary the torque pressure as necessary, but it must always be applied.

  8. 8

    Turn the tension wrench and unlock the door. Once all the pins are out of the way, you should be able to simply turn the tension wrench as you would a key.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are in a bind, you can use a paper clip or hairpin instead of a pick. Results will be better with an actual pick though.
  • Never attempt to unlock a door that is not yours. This is an illegal activity and can result in you being arrested.

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