DIY Lock Picks

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Introduction: DIY Lock Picks

Spy Challenge

Finalist in the
Spy Challenge

If you enjoy this project, then check out my books: Rubber Band Engineer and Duct Tape Engineer. || More engineering projects || Everything I make

I locked myself out of my house the other day... D'oh! It would've been easy enough to break a window, but hey it's my own home. So I decided to try and pick my way in. I used a pair of garden shears to cut up a hose clamp which I used as a pick and tension wrench. Even though it was a very crude piece of work, it did the job!

So I decided to polish my impromptu lock picks into something more presentable. Now that I'm not locked out of my home, I was able to use these things to make a simple lock pick and tension wrench:

Hose clamp
Dremel
Sugru
Pliers
Vice
Safety gear

Don't have a Dremel? Like I said, I made picks using rusty garden shears, so I'm sure you can be resourceful, too.

I've entered this into the Spy Contest. These may not be the most sophisticated lock picks, but a spy must be ever resourceful when a situation becomes dire (like locking oneself out of one's own home...)

This is just an example of how I made some simple lock picks. There are many different designs and materials out there. I hope this Instructable inspires you to make something for fun in the way you want, not necessarily copy what I did here. And of course, use lock picks for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!

Step 1: Prep the Hose Clamp

I chose to use a hose clamp to make these lock picks for a few reasons. Hose clamps are made from very thin and rigid steel, which is ideal for picks, and the slotted part of the band can be easily cut with a Dremel or even good quality hand tools. Hose clamps are also inexpensive and easy to find at hardware stores. And perhaps most importantly, it's what I found lying around in my backyard the first time!

Begin by completely unscrewing the hose clamp and laying it flat as shown in the second photo.

Step 2: Cut and Shape the Pick

If you have a vice, secure the flattened hose clamp in it. I did not have a vice, so I held the clamp in place with a cinder block. Use the Dremel to cut a thin 5" strip of from the slotted part of the hose clamp. Hold the loose end of the clamp with pliers. And of course, use safety goggles, dust mask, and protective gloves.

Next, use the Dremel to clean up the pick (2nd picture). If you don't have a Dremel, use a file. Use pliers to give the end of the pick a slight upward bend. I also ground one of the ends of the pick into a semi-circle - this helps the pick get under the pins (3rd picture).

Step 3: Cut and Shape the Tension Wrench

With the hose clamp still in the vice (or smooshed in place by a cinder block), cut another 5" off for the tension wrench (picture 2). Use the Dremel one more time to cut a few of the 'teeth' off of the end of the hose clamp (picture 3). Finally, use a pair of pliers to bend the end of the tension wrench (picture 4).

Step 4: Apply Sugru + Video

Use the Dremel or file to clean up any rough edges (this is only necessary for the parts that are inserted into the lock because the rest will be covered in Sugru). I also bent the end of my pick just because it allows for a better grip.

Finally, apply Sugru to any part of the pick and wrench that will not be inserted into the lock. Rub a small amount of dish soap over the Sugru to achieve a smooth texture.

As a novice lock picker, being able to easily grip the picks greatly reduces hand fatigue. It's also just plain comfy, and hey, who doesn't like to use Sugru at every possible opportunity?

Let the Sugru cure overnight, and then you're finished!

Here's a short clip of the lock picks being used on a cheap 4-pin padlock I bought at a thrift store for practice:

Step 5: Ideas for Improvement + Resources

There are a hundred ways to make a good lock pick - this Instructable is simply what worked best for me with the tools and skills I possess. However I'm sure there are better ways to make lock picks. More than a step-by-step tutorial, this Instructable should be used as a jumping point for your own creative designs. Maybe it would be a good idea to leave one of the 'teeth' at the end of the pick to help push the pins out of the tumbler. I've also read that grinding an allen wrench or screwdriver down to key-width makes for a good pick.

Here's a helpful guide on how lock picking works, which can be downloaded in PDF format for free: http://learnlockpicking.com/howto.html

Have fun being a maker, and be smart about how you choose to use lock picks!

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67 Comments

I have used bike spokes, you smash them with a hammer on an anvil, also metal inside used wiper blades is great

I think hacksaw blades would be the way to go . Great instructable very intuitive .

sitting here trying to think of something that might be just a little stronger and you nailed it with the hacksaw blade idea. thanks!

The cool thing about hacksaw blades is you can get em in various widths including but not limited to 0.025 for american locks and 0.015 for european / paracentric locks. Also you can get different grades of steel .
I hope this helps , enjoy ?

Nice 'structable, and congrats on your success first time in.
Just goes to show that locks are only for keeping honest people honest...

is it true that a good dead lock can't be picked because the bolt is to heavy or hard to move with the pick? I heard that once but that doesn't sound very true after reading about lock-picking.

An actual DEADLOCK mechanism can't really be picked from the outside without doing quite noticable damage to the door and lock. This is due to the DEADLOCKING mechanism being contained completely inside the lock and having NO interface on the outward facing side of the lock. I am oversimplifying this a bit, but not much.

A DEADBOLT OTOH, whole 'nother story... there are very few locking mechanisms which are still yet unpicked, and they are not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination and some are even fairly difficult to get depending on what country you live in (ubiquity varies by country due to other locks being popular in other countries.) However, to someone who is VERY well practiced and continues to practice regularly and skilled as well, most locks are not an impediment. It comes back to the old adage "Locks are to keep honest people honest."

I think I need to clarify my first statement, a DEADLOCK mechanism can't be picked at all, it can be damaged so as to access it's operational parts making TONS of noise and mess, attracting LOTS of attention.

deadlocks CAN be picked. The whole idea of picking a lock is to use the picks and wrench as a key. So if it opens with a key it CAN be picked I find dead locks easier than ordinary locks as the heaviness of the mechanism allows the use of less finnese