Instructables
Picture of DIY Lock Picks

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!

 
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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.
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Barqz24 months ago

can buy anything online from any state no questions

trknust2 years ago
One other place to get really good material for this kind of thing is an old car windshield wiper. Each of these have a really stiff stainless steel strip that keeps the rubber straight. And it is almost exactly the same size as what you get after cutting out the clamp.
That clamp is a really good idea though. I had never thought of that.
Dastan1996 trknust10 months ago

Yeah, we usually use those in Italy too (to make lock picks). Really good material for this purpose - and many others!

WYE_Lance (author)  trknust2 years ago
so I've heard, though I don't have wiper blades. However, during the last rainy season I noticed that old wiper blades were piled high in the trash can outside a nearby auto parts store. Hmm....
BINGO! and JACKPOT!
ag3 WYE_Lance2 years ago
Anyone living in a major metropolis or a place with a shopping center that uses a street sweeper to clean the lot, keep an eye out. they use spring steel bristles that are great for this sort of utility.
ag3 ag32 years ago
oh and mini-screwdriver sets work well also.
comp_wiz1012 years ago
Thanks for the 'ible! I'm restoring a vintage moped (1970s Motobecane), and the steering lock was locked in place without a key. Your instructions inspired me to make a quick set of picks out of some high-carbon steel wire. A bit of bending and hammering made a tension wrench and pick that lasted long enough for me to:
A) Learn how to pick on my old padlock
B) Unlock the steering lock and remove it

Now the lock is at the lock smith for keying!
cb922 years ago
I manage a 200 year old building. I save all the old locks, good luck picking them. The moving part of the lock is the size of a deck of cards. I make my own keys for the old locks, had one on my workshop for ten years, no worries.
From what I've learned about bump keys and lock picks, I plan to put slide bolts on all the doors but one, and the old lock on the last door. That's how it was done in my building in the old days. They used two to three foot long hooks to hold the doors shut. The eyes were anchored in the masonry and the hooks carriage-bolted to the doors. I save the old hooks, too. Real works of blacksmithing art.
I just ordered a set of bump keys and lock picks online, no questions asked.
The fun thing for the street people to do is to find a padlock unlocked and lock it somewhere else. Maybe the owner of the lock won't notice until it is too late, and put a sub-standard lock on their business.
Very neat DIY, thanks! Some things are fun to create, even "for entertainment purposes only." I was late for work a few months ago when I accidentally locked myself out of my rental car - they only give you one key as a rule, and I am used to carrying 3-4 car keys so I won't lock myself out - but I did, anyway. I called work and explained, got (deservedly) laughed at, then tried and tried to break into the rental car with actual purchased lock picks. Fortunately, our insurance reimbursed me when I finally had to give up and call and wait for a locksmith!

I endorse multiple keys! My dad had a spare house key hidden in the back shed somewhere in a small wooden box labeled Owl Pellets! He had one or two real pellets on the top layer and the key hidden underneath! Strange, though, because he'd go off on a two-week road trip and never lock up the house.
WYE_Lance (author)  veeguy2 years ago
Indeed, I tried to buy lock picks at a local locksmith, but as it turns out one needs to have a locksmith permit to own lock picks... which makes a lot of sense.
No, it really doesn't make sense. This instructable demonstrates that picks are easy to make. Therefore, restricting their sale does very little to prevent there sale.
Not to mention that very few thieves bother to learn how to use such tools. There are much easier, faster ways to open locks if one doesn't care about causing damage.
mce128 lperkins2 years ago
INDEED! This is such a common misconception (that burglars are out picking locks.) This is patently absurd. Even if they cased the house in advance, to check out what brand of lock is on a door, there are too many variables to spend time dickering around at the front door picking a lock in view of the world... they are going to try and bypass or break a window or other non-door based entry typically.
lperkins mce1282 years ago
The typical method of forcing a door lock quietly is a sheet metal screw on a draw hammer and rip the tumbler out. Takes expensive materials and manufacturing processes to make a lock proof against that. And yet, somehow, they don't go around requiring licenses for autobody repair tools...
mce128 lperkins2 years ago
Yeah, I was avoiding mentioning specific bypass methods such as things like makeshift nose pullers or even proper nose pullers.(That's why I just said bypass generically.) Also, it's not uncommon to try and jimmy the frame, or break glass near the door and use the thumbturn (if there is glass on or next to the door,) or any of the others mentioned above too. There are a myriad of ways to get past doors, windows, etc... it's actually fairly disturbing. Especially when one lives in the US given the typical locks used as opposed to the typical locks used in other countries.
lperkins mce1282 years ago
The weakest point on just about every home door I've ever seen is the door frame. Most of them are made of wood and won't stand up to a good solid kick from a large fellow. Two kicks at best. On the bright side, $12 worth of steel and an hour and a half with a drill and a jigsaw puts them back in the realm of crawling in through a broken window...
mce128 lperkins2 years ago
Very true... many door frames are not even properly installed, or are just not strong enough. A little bit of reinforcing goes a very long way.
Nice job on the improvisation BTW... As far as needing a permit/license that varies greatly state by state.
mce1282 years ago
I'd also like to add there is a thriving community of locksport enthusiasts. Some good sites to learn about this are:

http://keypicking.com
http://lockpicking101.com
http://toool.nl

If you're looking to open something you don't own or have a specific right to open, or even seem suspicious, do not expect a warm welcome. Fair warining.
Kudos! Great info! I would like to toss out a bit of info, on possible material that could be used, or so I have been told. Old hacksaw blades! I ran across an old tool room guy, that was collecting the old blades, when someone would come in to exchange theirs on a job site, many years ago. He was saving the old 1's to make pick sets from them,( and making a few extra $$, selling them on the job sites!). So if you happen to have some laying around in your own workshop, and have the time to fiddle around sometime, they might just come in handy someday?
I agree, hacksaw blades are a really good material (I've uploaded an image of picks I made with one). I tried using hose clamps today, but the pick is to unstable for my taste (maybe the material differs, between different brands). Kudos though on finding a way to get into your house with stuff you had lying around! Have you tried using a plastic card first?
CIMG3283.jpg
mce128 BrittLiv2 years ago
Feeler gauge stock works VERY well too.Honestly, if one had to fashion a pick in an emergency, yeah sure use a hose clamp... outside of that, the only time I've really seen people using hose clamps is to make specialized picks for MTL telescoping pin locks. Lots of people use and swear by hacksaw blades though. So, I'm not going to knock it.

Here is a pick I made from starrett 666 .020" feeler gauge stock with a hammered copper and patinated handles.

hook1.jpg
Nice 'structable, and congrats on your success first time in.
Just goes to show that locks are only for keeping honest people honest...
I like the Sugru handles, too, but you didn't have Sugru with the garden shears for the first ones you made, did you?
WYE_Lance (author)  Jack of Most Trades2 years ago
No, I didn't - after scraping my hands up quite a bit I found a rag and wrapped it around the pick and wrench.
I'm curious... How much does the segru dampen feedback from the pin stacks?
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.
mce128 adam 1012 years ago
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."
mce128 mce1282 years ago
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.
No, that's not true.
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.
Like Salmonella said. It can be picked. Some locks are harder than others.
mlsjunk2 years ago
Be careful not to take them off your property as it is illegal to possess burglar tools in most states unless you are a licensed locksmith.
mce128 mlsjunk2 years ago
Most states don't have a concept of Licensed Locksmith
I don't know about you, but 8 states and 1 district doesn't make that 'most' to me.
DrJase2 years ago
I've used junior hacksaw blades ground down with a Dremel.....

Great 'ible!
dsprague2 years ago
When I was younger I used to use metal strapping that was used to reinforce heavy boxes for the spring steel for picks. Unfortunately these have mostly been replaced by plastic straps now, but if you can find the metal strapping material it is the right thickness and the spring steel allows flexing so it tensions nicely without holding unintentional bends..
Skymeat2 years ago
Great post! I usually use rake tines or street sweeper blades. Lots of places will define them as burglary tools. But fear not.

Use them in the lab you created and don't take them to open a friends lock. If your friend needs that lock opened they can call a locksmith.

If you want to open locks as a business there are plenty of avenues that are for the most part open.

Jerry12522 years ago
Not sure about 8 states and 1 district, but a lock pick is considered a burglary tool, which is illegal in my state. I would leave them at home also.
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