Introduction: Poor Man's Paperclip Lockpicks

Picture of Poor Man's Paperclip Lockpicks

Using a squashed paperclip, and a tension wrench you can begin learning the art of lock picking!

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You will need:
1. Fairly large paperclip
2. Hammer
3. Something to smash the paperclip on, anvil, rock, concrete
4. Tension wrench

Possiblities for tension wrenches:
1. Small screw driver with a bent tip
2. Another paperclip
3. Model rocket engine clip
4. An actual tension wrench out of a lock picking set

Step 2: Straighten the Clip

Picture of Straighten the Clip

Straighten out the paperclip as shown

Step 3: Flatten

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Flatten out the end of the clip thats poking out, this makes the paperclip rigid and flat enough to fit into the lock.

Step 4: Test Out Your New Pick!

Picture of Test Out Your New Pick!

Picking locks takes practice. Check out the basics on how stuff works , another good document is the "MIT Guide to Lockpicking"

If you really are interested, purchase a lockpick set (around $15 for a basic one from southord). Be sure to check your state laws reguarding lock picking tools and the legality of it all, its always a good idea to see how deep you are getting before you jump in!

Attached is a video of the paper clip lock pick in action. The first section is using a small paper clip as the tension wrench, the second section I used a tension wrench out of a normal lockpick set.

Video is taken with my "stick the camera halfway in your pants" method


isaacs66 (author)2016-12-19

If i had a lock picking set why the hell would i try to make one out of a paperclip, this is just stupid.

bobned (author)2015-10-31

lol, i like the name SMASHER

locksmithsnearme (author)2014-06-08

Wow !

Jake9528 (author)2012-08-12

I made a set awhile back and one of the best things for a tension wrench was cutting open an old windshield wiper blade and using the metal part.. It worked great!

Fried Potatoes (author)2012-06-23

Think you could use a vice tightened all the way?

nak (author)Fried Potatoes2012-06-23

no, I don't think so, a hammer works great

james4 (author)2012-06-11

I can't get the paper clip to get flattened.I tried using a vise and a pair of pliers but it own't work.As for the screwdriver tension wrench, I can only bend it like a millimeter.

freakyqwerty (author)2012-03-29

I believe that the clip of a uni-ball pen can be bent and used as a tension wrench although I haven't tried...

I'd hate to bastardize such an amazing mechanical pencil, but the clip from a Zebra M-301 is also a pretty good tension wrench

blin2 (author)2011-05-23

there is no more "MIT Guide to Lockpicking" !


coolo52 (author)blin22012-04-06

there is i am on the website and using it right now

nak (author)blin22011-05-26


amelder (author)2012-01-22

i wanna hear more about these pranks. ;)

nak (author)2012-01-01

The video isn't necessary :)

Madmartigan95 (author)2011-08-20

so... how thick is the right thickness?

nak (author)Madmartigan952011-08-20

"flat enough to fit into the lock." depends on the lock, but if you have vernier calipers and like to be precise, I'd say no more than 1mm, probably closer to .7 or .8mm. However, what really matters is: "Does it fit into the lock?" and "Does it break when I try to use it?" if the latter occurs try again and don't smash it so hard ya goof! ;)

coolo52 (author)2011-07-05

i like using screwdrivers that are tiny enough for screws on toys to pick locks inside my house like the ones on bedroom doors

Pasit (author)2007-08-22

what did u use for a tension wrench in the video??

burdockwing (author)Pasit2011-03-15

He used a paper clip the first part and i think a bent up mini screw driver the next. I use the mini screw driver

jinaiiiii (author)2008-06-25

LMAO stick the camera halfway in your pants. Interesting, I'll try it!

mg0930mg (author)jinaiiiii2008-10-06

Are you trying the paperclips, or stuff halfway down your pants? o_0

jinaiiiii (author)mg0930mg2011-02-06

camera down pants, DUH

mg0930mg (author)jinaiiiii2011-02-06

haha, I can't believe you just saw this, that was 2 1/2 years ago.

nak (author)2010-11-06

Yeah I was confused at first, then I realised the rocket was in the picture :P
I don't want to make an instructable on that, it was too long ago, and I used a wood lathe (my grampapas for the nose)

Coranu (author)2009-04-12

Just thought I'd mention, it's illegal to own a lock pick in D.C., Illinois, New York State, Canada and New Jersey if it can be used on a motor vehicle. So no one gets in trouble with the law.

wat. (author)Coranu2010-10-28

It won't be legal in the UK!

Cheezpaper (author)Coranu2010-09-02

And it's 100% legal to own one and use it in Canada if you're not caught using it with criminal intention as it is seen by the Canadian government in the same category as hammers and crowbars. And since they are legal to use unless you do something wrong with it, then they can't press charges against you for using it to get into your own house, for sport, or just for the luxury of knowing how to pick a lock.

orangewolf22 (author)Coranu2010-06-22

would this work on a motor vehicle, then?

Coranu (author)orangewolf222010-06-24

These? Probably not.

Javin007 (author)Coranu2009-10-29

To be technical, it's not illegal to OWN a kit in D.C., only illegal to carry it outside of your house.  :)

wat. (author)2010-10-28

Using in britain by crowbar if you don't use it as a weaponed, it's not an offence.

schwabie (author)2010-06-24

its considered a burgalry tool if ur caught unless u are a locksmith.i bought a starters lockpicking kit and a book for about 20 bucks.i can pick a masterlock in about 1 minute.and ive only had it for a week.

nak (author)schwabie2010-06-24

You're super awesome and smart!

adamthiede (author)2007-07-04

i went to youtube and got a great tutorial. uses hacksaw blades, bench grinder, dremel, and blowtorch. ALWAYS USE SAFETY!!!! I found the blowtorch wasnt needed if u have a lighter with a long neck and a creative imagination...

mutaku817 (author)adamthiede2007-07-25

the only problem is wen ur parents only let u use a dremel, no grinder or flame

Kataze (author)mutaku8172007-10-19

Which is odd, considering a dremel is just a grinder on a smaller scale. You can still kill yourself with it, so it's not like it's more safe.

musicninja17 (author)Kataze2009-04-11

Plus you really can't accidently stab yourself with a running grinder..... ...just a thought...

Kataze (author)musicninja172009-04-12

Heh. true.

beehard44 (author)Kataze2010-02-18

make that a chainsaw...

kiddie voice:
my mom will only let me use my C4..
not my nuke....

mutaku817 (author)Kataze2007-10-19

my dad's grinder is insane though, it could eat an entire hacksaw blade in seconds it's mounted on a table but my dad is scared of me getting burned by the spark-spray

Kataze (author)adamthiede2007-10-19

Yeah I saw that one. My watching experience was this: (Okay, time to stop using paperclips, and get serious. This video should help) (Okay, I got that) (I might have that in the garage...maybe...) (Yeah, I don't have any freaking propane around) *Close window*

adamthiede (author)adamthiede2007-07-04

by the way happy independence day to everyone in the USA!

icedog515 (author)2007-11-15

you could just, well, make a sandwich ya no.

beehard44 (author)icedog5152010-02-18

i agree....


finchXvalor (author)2007-02-28

our lockers have a combination lock and a keyhole, I've heard that a master key is used to open them all. It would have to be simple for one key to be used for the whole school unless I'm wrong, right ?

technodude92 (author)finchXvalor2007-12-20

sort of, im no picking expert but from what i know, a lock that accepts two keys dosent have to compromise security. correct me if im wrong

You're wrong. Because it's got more possible key configurations, master-keyed locks are almost always easier to pick. They have a different setup that's rather hard to explain without diagrams, though. They are easier, but not to the point that it's automatically a security risk. It's still a lock.

_soapy_ (author)BorisTheSpider2008-01-01

Really does depend on the lock. Some, like the SFIC's, actually increase the security by having two valid keys - one for opening the lock, and one for changing the lock core itself, which allows easy repudation of a compromised valid key. Also reduces the effectiveness of bumpkeys, and makes them harder to pick.

beehard44 (author)_soapy_2010-02-18

nah, i'd shove in the nozzle of the lighter fluid thing, not the zippo, then hit it bush-style with a shoe....

Bush style, i mean when he was almost hit by a shoe....

mackmgg (author)finchXvalor2008-02-14

in my school we have one or two master keys for each locker kind but when they have two they are the same key.

About This Instructable




Bio: Twitter: @mindsforge
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