Introduction: How to Pick a Lock With Hairpins

Lock picking is as old as locks themselves, and is enjoyed as a hobby and practical skill worldwide. While it has been tainted in many people's minds as something only done by criminals, it is in fact a skill that could very well save your life if kidnapped, as well as saving hundreds of dollars in locksmithing costs to open things for which the key has been lost. Criminals and thieves are far more likely to break a window and in other ways use force to open things rather than trouble with the delicate, and many times lengthy method of picking.

Practice locks such as the one used in this video can be found for sale online with little searching, but all that is really necessary to practice is a simple padlock. Practicing lock picking should only be done on a lock that is not essential to some purpose, as it is possible to damage a lock if done incorrectly. It of course should also not be done on a lock that does not belong to you, as doing so is likely illegal.


Mielameri (author)2014-03-05

Very nice 'ible. And thanks for clearing the name of lock picking; it's a challenging, dexterity-requiring, practical skill, but tell anyone it's your hobby, and you're suddenly labeled as a deviant!

XD same thing goes when you tell them you can pick a lock in under 10 seconds...

Nah, wana be a devient? Pick your way out of handcuffs behind your back...while at a party. If a cop puts you in them...dont pick em. Might get a felony resisting arrest.

AJMansfield (author)2014-03-06

Excellent video! It would be interesting to have another video that discusses how to do it for things like warded pins (like those shown at the end of this video), lever locks, or auto-jamming mechanisms (for instance a chubb lock).

There are quite a few other videos out there for picking security pins and other types of locks, I just felt there wasn't a great example of an introduction using this particular method which is so popular to show in entertainment.

I appreciate the transparent view... I have picked many locks before, but never really had the chance to see exactly what was going on the inside... Thanks for the informative video!!

S200 (author)2016-05-27

Can you do an 'ible with images... I can't access video.

Stupid family security settings

PickerOfLocks (author)2016-04-30

That's a pretty good intro!

If you want to add any content to your Instructable, we have some resources that might help.



geekster88 (author)2016-03-17

On the mobile app for andriod, why can't I see multiple strps? All I see is thr intro....

JamesChirr (author)2016-02-16

Sweet instructable! Breaks down the basic concepts of lock picking perfectly. This article also provides a thorough overview:

Outdoorsmenn (author)2015-11-18

great video, explains everything in a easy to learn way keep up the good work. thanks of the great instructable

Timothys2 (author)2015-06-06

This is great! I'm definitely taking this up as a hobby. Question though: how do you know how many pins there are? Or is it a standard 5?

HowToRandom (author)Timothys22015-11-03

You don't know how many there are, you need to count them with your pick.

HowToRandom (author)Timothys22015-11-03

You don't know how many there are, you need to count them with your pick.

CorreyS1 (author)2015-09-21

Oh hey, this reminds me about the time a locksmith services showed me how to do this. Although it was simple it sure looked somewhat challenging and that's because of how much time I was taking to unlock. I wonder though, what other type of tools besides a hair clip can you pick a door lock?

Alex3DMG (author)2015-08-26

Cool lock self out of leather book with lock

MelvinC1 (author)2015-05-30

Cool to know as even ive locked myself and kid out and waited mom to get home.and seen neighbors destroy door lock for same reason..I payed once and only once to get in new p/u and watched and learned as pro did

ggadget (author)2015-05-29

This sounds like the Kip Kay guy. I used to watch all his how to videos.

jvandeyacht (author)2015-05-26

For most doors, i use a bump key. For padlocks i normally use a 15 dollar master-key aka bolt cutter. Sice attending survival school, i always keep a few bobby pins and berrets (handcuff shims) at all times in my wallet. The only way to get good is practice^3. Good ible for beginners. Thanks

grolmund (author)2015-05-26

Nice 'ible but the "key" here is that it's a training lock so you can see what is happening. And, I challenge anyone to look around their shop and come up with a hair pin (bobbypin) let alone coming up with not one but two in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. I worked part time in a lock and key shop for a year and the owner was a good mentor. He gave me the pick tools and some locksets that were used and not in pristine shape to use as the practice lock. While I was able to pick the ones he gave me, I was never able to pick (under pressure) a lock brought in by a customer which, absent a key, is necessary in order to re-key a lock. So, dear readers, while this is a nicely presented 'ible, don't get your hopes up. Have a credit card ready and when you are confronted with the situation, call a locksmith. Go get a beer or a coffee and wait.

n1cod3mus (author)2015-05-26

I normally find using a the rake in my lock picks is normally enough and quick for most rim cylinder locks and Euro locks. but that's if you have them on you, this is good if you need to use stuff that's around you.

TheUnknownVariable (author)2015-05-21

Where did you get the clear lock

locksmithsnearme (author)2014-06-08

Excellent !

deadpooltacos (author)2014-05-15

great! now when I get locked out of my house, or surprise a friend, I can just do this! if only it was normal for a boy to carry hairpins.....

gagegar (author)2014-03-27

Nighthawkinlight thank you your instructables are the best.

gagegar (author)2014-03-27


0zzy (author)2014-03-06

Nice one thanks

We've got a small cupboard that was built in to the wall of our bedroom that I found under the wallpaper about 2 weeks after we moved in and I've never been able to open as the door is made of metal and I can't see any hinges so I'm not able to knock out the pins to open it that way .

So thank you very much for sharing your video I am definitely try this today and I will let you know when I have got in

Thanks again

TrollFaceTheMan (author)0zzy2014-03-07

Any luck?

0zzy (author)TrollFaceTheMan2014-03-17

Hi there and thanks for your interest and sorry I took so long to reply as the lock was old rusty and very stiff but Yes I finally got it open today and I am so happy :-)
I had to keep spraying it with WD40 and I made a set of stronger picks out of stainless steel from an old windscreen wiper as thay have 2 nice fin stainless steel bands that run down each side of the rubber wiper blade.
And inside was a bunch of old rusty keys that fit all the old locks that are fitted to every door inside the house oh and one for the lock I have just picked yay arr no cash or gold but Yes Yes Yes I finally got it open and I did it
So big thank you for your help
Thanks ozzy

TrollFaceTheMan (author)0zzy2014-03-17

Nice, thanks for sharing...

yea. what happened? did you get in?

did it work?

jbankston montgomery (author)2014-03-14

I have wanted to learn this my whole life. why? I have no idea. I am 61 and where would I learn before the internet. I suppose I would have waited outside a prison for a cat burglar to be released. lol it's on my bucket list. I'm going to try it now. thank you for the video. Judy

lswashbuckle (author)2014-03-10

Wow... Very descriptive, excellent video keep up the great work

eryl (author)2014-03-09

Good timing. My sister in law was just telling me that she'd lost the key to her bureau.

tasn1003 (author)2014-03-08

this is agreat iblw. very informative and helpful.

stephenfitton (author)2014-03-08

Sometimes after freeing a lock up you are able to dismantle it, and you are left with a non working lock.

If you find a key that fits the tumbler insert, then grind down protruding pins, this will make the lock usable with the different key you have found.Have Fun!

nijad dubay (author)2014-03-07

It worked really good
I don't even use keys any more

vincent7520 (author)2014-03-07

Great for someone like me who tends to loose one's keys more than often ! …

lucjoker (author)2014-03-06

verry nice but, no hairpin fits in any of my locks !

I have Yale and Iseo locks,top of the bill in Thailand (and Europe)

Hairpins are simply too thick to fit in .

Also "the bent " in the pick- pin ,is not easy (almost impossible ) to make .Unless your hairpins are not from steel?(but than it would make them lousy hairpins)

I will try with paperclips.

nfarrow (author)2014-03-06

makes me want to play Skyrim

ElegantAndrogyne (author)nfarrow2014-03-06

This seems definitely easier than applying rotational pressure with a screwdriver... ;)

but may be impossible to do on smaller locks - no place to insert another hairpin.

BTW. I wonder how the hell did those Desert Rangers, as well as the Vault Dweller or Chosen One pick locks with their hands alone.

noel0leon (author)2014-03-06

Really well explained video - thanks!

kojak (author)2014-03-06

This had to be the best video I have ever seen at this site. Very professional. Very informative. Excellent work. Great job.

zawy (author)2014-03-06

surprisingly good video

thebeatonpath (author)2014-03-06

This would have saved me the headache of busting a storm window to get inside the house several years ago. One of my kids locked it behind us and we had no way of getting inside because another door was dead bolted.

damionflynn (author)2014-03-06

Very cool. Something I have thought would be cool to know but never having a use for it, never bothered to learn. Thanks :)

ffrisell (author)2014-03-06

Great instructable. Had to try it directly and after a few minutes I managed to open a fairly robust looking padlock (turns out it had only three pins and it was a cheap looking brand). Still... scary!

f.3 (author)2014-03-06

I wish this 'ible was available last summer! My Mrs. and I took a trip to see family. Upon return to our home, five states away from said family we realized that the key ring with our house keys was mistakenly swapped with a set that was not of anything ours! Being the middle of the night and with dieing phones we agreed to take the risk of trying to figure out how to pick our way in. It took me about an hour and a half with a few quick Web searches and a shoddy video or two I got us in and to our spare key set. Home owners should really know things like this going into purchasing a home along with a general list of things that should be updated at certain times in the life of the house.

LancasterPA (author)2014-03-06

Too late for me but I will keep this in mind. I just paid $15 for a cabinet key. I did not need a lock on the cabinet but when I bought it, it was locked with no key. I used the number on the lock to buy the key but if I could have picked it I would have been able to just disable it. Thanks for a great video.

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Bio: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.
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