Introduction: Open Pad Locks and Combination Locks With a Soda Can

Picture of Open Pad Locks and Combination Locks With a Soda Can

Use an aluminum soda can to open your padlocks or combination locks in the event that you have forgotten the combination or lost the key.

When you're done here be sure to check out my youtube channel and website for more fun tutorials!

The Best Hobbies Blog- Youtube channel

Step 1: Watch This Video!

Watch this video to see me open a combination lock with a soda can!

Step 2: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

Just a can, and some scissors or a box cutter. Here I'll demonstrate with a combination lock, but this technique applies to several other kinds of locks, including padlocks that need a key to be opened.

Step 3: Cutting the Can

Picture of Cutting the Can

First cut off the top and bottom of the can. Next cut a strip of metal (for this lock I cut a strip slightly wider than an inch). Then cut the strip into the "M"-like shape shown in the picture. It's important to make sure you round the bottom of the middle section (the part circled in red). This will make it much more effective than if it's flat.

Step 4: Folding Into a Shim

Picture of Folding Into a Shim

Now take your "M"-shaped piece of aluminum and fold down the top. Once you've folded down the top, fold both sides upwards. You will probably need to wrap them around several times.

The tool you have just created is known as a shim.

Step 5: Shaping Your Shim

Picture of Shaping Your Shim

To achieve the proper shape for your shim, simply place it on the shackle and gently press so that it forms to the same circular shape.

Step 6: Opening the Lock

Picture of Opening the Lock

Once your shim is properly rounded you can slide it to the inside of the shackle's arch (make sure you are on the side with the locking mechanism, usually the left side). Press the shackle upwards and hold it there. While holding the shackle up, work the shim down into the locking mechanism. Once the shim is as far down as it can go, pinch it and continue to press it downward towards the mechanism as you push down the shackle. After this motion is finished, the shackle should simply lift and open, just as if you had entered the combination.

Opening a lock in this way will not damage the lock, but as you can see from the picture it will chew up your shim a fair bit. (Shims are usually only good for one use.)

Step 7: Shimming Other Kinds of Locks and Anti Shim Locks

Picture of Shimming Other Kinds of Locks and Anti Shim Locks

Recently, Master Lock has been advertising anti-shim or shim-proof locks. These locks can actually still be shimmed, however they are a bit more difficult. Many padlocks that need a key to be opened have locking mechanisms on both sides of the shackle. For that type of lock you'll have to use two shims.

I hope this instructable will come in handy for you. Enjoy!

If you'd like to see more of my how to's and tutorials check out the links in the intro to this instructable!


ANosay (author)2014-08-25

Why mine just didn't work...

gg12720 (author)ANosay2017-03-28


ge562419 (author)2017-02-05

i could bang byonce but id rather use my hand....damn

JAguallero made it! (author)2016-08-15

Wow, it worked! I had to make 4 shims because they kept breaking or coming out mangled from failure. I was worried that I was putting on the wrong side because it wasn't working, but I ended hooking the shackle on a protruding bolt so I could pull down and slide the shim in with more finger pressure, and it worked! Now I need to use one of the other lock-picking 'ables to discover this lock's combination so I can put it to work.


JohnD316 (author)2016-08-15

There are tools called "fingernails" available to locksmiths that are made from thin very flexible and strong stainless steel that will do this. Not sure if the general public can buy them because they are considered "lockpicking tools" and may be unlawful if you are not a licenced locksmith.

EricA143 (author)2016-08-10

Looks like fun, I'll have to try it. Thanks.

RadhaK15 (author)2016-06-22

It seems like burglars also use the same technique to unlock the padlocks requiring a key. This shows there is no any security of a padlock with a key. Its better to use a padlock called Tapplock as mentioned here > which doesn't even require a key to open it. Simply unlock it via your unique fingerprint which is registered with your smartphone app. No other fingerprints will work to unlock it. This should give more security and piece of mind.

Pial Biswas (author)RadhaK152016-07-01

now fingerprints can be copied dude!

Elfinberry (author)Pial Biswas2016-08-08

Yup. fingerprint scanners can't detect 3D. They unlock for for decent photo copies of the finger print.

KISELIN (author)2016-08-08

What? My soda-cans are NOT locked, they just have this "thing" there you put your finger in, and then pull it up till it says "phfiuu...", then you pull it towards you, and then it kind'a "pops" and then you "push back the thing you did put your finger in",and voi'la...your done ...:) humor

supernoodle2014 (author)2016-08-07

This is pretty cool, I'm going to have to try this sometime. And to all the people who say you have showed a criminal how to do a crime,the criminal doesn't care if he/she brakes the lock or door to get in, they most likely won't waste the time to pick or shim the lock. Locks are simply to keep honest people honest.

JackA57 (author)2016-08-07

I'm a locksmith and this will work for I've done it many times all it takes is practice lots of prac

Cayotica (author)2016-08-07

nothing works like the "master key" a.k.a. bolt cutters.

Cayotica (author)2016-08-07

a cheap gimmick to open cheap locks, slaymaker had a lock that would open if you just yanked on it hard enough. I only use high security shank free padlocks and they're aonly a few dollars more.

BennieB3 (author)2016-08-07

I have a 19 oz claw hammer that i use on those cheap padlocks.

StephenC139 (author)2016-06-26

I made it and tried to open my combination lock but it never works and the shim always breaks apart. I did it in the right part of the lock, too. I don't know why I can't do it.

kijion (author)2016-02-25

Wow this is awesome!!!

ajudd4 made it! (author)2016-01-14

fun and easy to make

wpace (author)2015-03-05

Has this actually worked for anyone? There is a latch assembly inside a combination lock. It can not be pushed out of the way unless the correct combination sequence is used creating a gap for the pawl to drop into.

I have not tried this so maybe it works, but based on my understanding of how combination locks work you can not simply push the latch assembly out of the way with a shim...

joeB120 (author)wpace2015-12-14

depends on the age of locks, as you can tell an way to open locks like its is to easy for a manufacture to no overlook it so they just change the mechanism in which the locks are opened. this prevents shimming as it dosent use springs as it used to now it uses ball bearings. but if you want to check if it does work, unlock your lock and look at the holes in the shackle, if they are rounded like a semi circle then you wont be able to shim them, if they are more like a right angled triangle then they are vunerable to shimming

Orange Shadow (author)2014-08-31

I dunno but your kinda showing burgalurs how to break into locks

joeB120 (author)Orange Shadow2015-12-14

usually locks nowadays use ball bearings instead of springs so if someone tryed to shim a lock open it'd just end up dmaaging the shim as now springs are present to push the acutator back in the first place.

RigoC (author)Orange Shadow2015-09-23

Anything can be used for crime. I've had old locks that I forget the combo to, locked to chains. I've had to cut them off. This might save me the trouble.

ArkBlade (author)2015-07-15

Sorry to crash anyone's moment of childish excitement but unless you have an old lock this simply won't work. Most any lock above level 3 on it's security rating will have Anti-Shim properties, and won't work even with professional shims.

AmyH9 (author)2015-05-31

PrestonW1 (author)2015-04-29

This is AMAZING I tried to make it but it didnt work I will try again.

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-15

The Burglars are much further advanced


SparkySolar (author)2014-10-15

The Burglars are much further advanced


SparkySolar (author)2014-10-15

useful for storage locks thank you .

jaykrisell (author)2014-08-08

Works really well

amartínez yamaoka (author)2014-07-24

~Lockpicking increased to 75~
(Skyrim reference)

Also I find it very usefull because my backyard door has that kind of lock and I happen to never remember the combination because I don't go out very often but this is extremely usefull for emergencies. Thank you~

Tevye Ben David (author)2014-06-19

This was commonly known, 30 years ago, as a thumb buster and is illegal in many states to carry or to have in your car. I am not telling you not to make one but if you do you stand in jeopardy of getting arrested if they ever find it no matter how innocent the reason for having it.

DAMN really? dude..thats hard core for a little arts and crafts community. =)

Sorry, but a thumb buster is a single action revolver.

See on lockpicking laws in the US

ooohlaa (author)2014-06-22

This is good to know for an emergency but woudn't you just discard the lock and buy a new one? or does everyone except me know how to reprogram a lock to reuse it ... this would be too cumbersome unless you hardly use it on a routine basis. thanx what kind of camera do you have to photo so well up close ... i need to buy a new camera for ebay selling.

kwhit190211 (author)ooohlaa2014-06-22

oohiaa, if the if by chance you have a Master brand lock that you have & you forgot the combination. If it's just sitting around & not locked to anything, just look at the back of the lock. There are numbers stamped in the back of it, call or write Master lock & they will probably give you the combination. Or even take it to a locksmith. Using the numbers they will tell you what the combo is. Same holds true to any Master lock with a code stamped in ink on it.

ooohlaa (author)2014-06-22

ooops in my comment sorry I meant the camera you used for youtube ... can you tell me what it is ... I loved this video so well done thanx

Thank you very much! The camera I use for video is a Panasonic HC-V550. The photos were simply taken by my phone. Hope this helped=]

craftclarity (author)2014-06-17

Interesting. I remember the kerfuffle that resulted when someone on Youtube posted a video detailing how easy it was to use a Bic pen to open one of the older Kryptonite locks....

Arx (author)craftclarity2014-06-21

Yeah, that happens anytime anyone points out how thieves can steal your stuff. The reality of it is that the thieves already know, and were already popping locks with a bic, long before the media got ahold of the story.

Icesphere (author)craftclarity2014-06-19

I guess you could say that Bic pens were their...kryptonite

Squidyman (author)2014-06-19

If you use heavier gauge metal, does it last longer? Awesome project!

Arx (author)Squidyman2014-06-21

I expect the "proper" material for something like this would be thin spring steel. In a similar thickness to the pop can, it would probably last orders of magnitude longer, but unless you're a locksmith who needs to open this type of lock frequently, the pop can probably makes a lot more sense to rig up when you need it.

Aeshir (author)Squidyman2014-06-19

thicker metal is more durable here, but it makes it much harder to get the shim in between the arch and the lock. the aluminum can is pretty much the perfect material. i'd be interested to see how steel or something tougher but of the same thickness holds up though.

Ideally yes. However if the metal is too thick it won't fit in the narrow space. You can actually buy shim sets that are made out of stronger material, but those cost around $20 and I can't speak for their longevity as I've never used them. Also thank you=]

jesseroscoe (author)2014-06-19

Normally, I would object to posting instructions on how to break into someone's gym locker. In this case, however, this instructable should serve to show people how crappy these locks really are.

Arx (author)jesseroscoe2014-06-19

Yes. Criminals generally already know this stuff. It's important for people to know how (in)secure their locks are so they know what should be trusted to them. If you were to blissfully assume that your cheap combination lock will protect your expensive bike, you may have it stolen from you. Now that you know just how weak these locks are, you'll know not to trust them for any more than the most primitive level of security.

These locks will prevent someone from "borrowing" your text books without permission, etc. That's all they're really meant to do. If you have valuables to protect, use something more secure.

J,R,D, Ltd (author)Arx2014-06-21

These days textbooks might be worth more than the bike! :o

Arx (author)J,R,D, Ltd2014-06-21

Probably true, but they're probably not as inconspicuous for random thieves to access, and a bit more limited market to sell to. I hear about a lot more bike theft than book theft.

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