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How to pick a cabinet lock

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a cabinet that is locked and cannot find the key, there are two options for opening it: unfastening exposed hinges or picking the lock. Because many cabinets no longer have exposed hinges, unfastening them will not be a viable option. Another workaround is to open an adjacent cabinet or drawer and manipulating the lock from the inside. This is difficult and requires a fair amount of contortion to accomplish. Picking the lock will require patience, but is the best option.

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  1. Straighten two paper clips. Bend one paper clip into an "L" shape and bend the other to resemble a dentist's pick, with a small curve at the end.

  2. Insert the "dentist pick" into the cabinet lock with the curve facing upward. Push to the back of the cabinet lock until it will not go in any further.

  3. Insert the "L" paper clip under the "dentist pick" with the bend facing downward.

  4. Press up on the dentist pick to move the pin out of the lock position. Use the L paper clip to hold the first pin in place. Continue to the next pin, pressing upward again with the dentist pick. Use the L paper clip to hold the next pin as well. Repeat this process until all pins are in the unlocked position. This may take several attempts to unlock each pin and hold it in position to open the cabinet lock.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper clips

About the Author

Owen Richason grew up working in his family's small contracting business. He later became an outplacement consultant, then a retail business consultant. Richason is a former personal finance and business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier." He now writes for various publications, websites and blogs.

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