Introduction: The Only REAL Paperclip Lockpick!

Tired of your old bendy paperclip "lockpicks". Well here's an easy way to make paperclip lockpicks...that wont bend!

*You shouldn't be a meanie and go rob people, blah blah blah..

(don't you hate it when people put those dumb disclaimers?!?)

Step 1: Gather Your Junk!

All you need to get started is:

-a paperclip

-a gas torch

-a glass of cool water (important)

-a box of matches

-a pair of pliers

-a pair of wire cutters

Step 2: Bend the Clip!

Use your hands to bend out the paperclip like this:

Step 3: Cut the Clip!

Use your wire cutters to cut the paperclip right where the inner-loop comes back around...

Step 4: Bend the Clip Some More!

Using your pliers, bend the tip of your clip into whatever shape your heart desires. The picture shows a basic curved pick.

Step 5: Heat the Clip!

Turn on your torch so very little gas comes on. Light a match and slowly bring it to the tip of the torch. Using your pliers run the paperclip back and forth so that the outside becomes charred and it starts to glow.

Step 6: Cool the Clip!

Very quickly put your hot clip into the cool water. This hardens the metal so it wont bend as easily.

Step 7: Transformation Complete!

You now have your finished lockpick! With a little sanding it will come to a nice shiny finish and be ready for criminal activity! Have fun!


NightCoreTaker made it! (author)2017-02-03

so dose the wire cutters need to be made in china?

WiktorM2 made it! (author)2016-01-27

Hmmm let me see...
Nope i definitely dont have a propane torch.

bobned made it! (author)2015-10-31

Question. Do I need to have the weird stain?

Master Wasi 47 made it! (author)2014-11-15

Cool but I already know.

mlslrsn made it! (author)2013-08-23

If you dont have a blowtorch, you can hold the paperclips with pliers and close one end in a drill and twist the wire for like 5 seconds it rearranges the molecules and makes it much harder.

Biscuitus made it! (author)2012-06-10

Hardly anyone does water quenching anymore, most do air tempering. In this particular case you can probably get away with it. It won't turn the paperclip into glass, it would probably still take a good amount of force or very sharp movements to break it off and even if it did break, it's easily removable, but that's why you have practice locks, neh? For what it's used for, this process is fine.

Here's an example of air tempering:
Heat A2 tool steel to 1750 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes to one and a half hours. Remove from oven let cool for eight hours minimum. Heat the part to 600 degrees for thirty minutes then allow to cool. That will give you a Rockwell hardness of about 52 to 60 (that's hard enough that you can't file the metal, you have to use either a honing stone or carbide). If you want to figure out what kind of metal you're using, there are tons of charts that will tell you the exact temp and time you need to get a certain hardness.

Great Wight Ninja made it! (author)Great Wight Ninja2012-07-17

I presume that would mean you would need a forge or something similar to keep the metal at temperature for those lengthy time periods. Is there a good way to air temper using more general purpose heating sources (like a torch) or is it simply a matter where "if it's worth doing right, it's worth the investment."

If that's the case, water quenching seems like it may still be good for the casual "blacksmith" (and I even use that in quotes loosely), who just wants to dabble once or twice with it and move on to the next kind of project.

Biscuitus made it! (author)Biscuitus2012-07-17

The gas fired forges I've seen here would do okay, so long as there wasn't a huge temperature fluctuation but most use an electric oven designed for that purpose.

For all intents and purposes, especially for small pieces like this one, yes, water quenching is fine. I was more adding specific information about the process. I've used water quenching for horseshoes almost exclusively and have never had a problem.

Though now that I think about it, you could probably whip up a temporary gas forge with firebricks, some black pipe, a mixing valve and some of those propane torch sized oxy acetylene tanks if you put your mind to it.

4445 made it! (author)2009-03-15

but putting hot metal in water makes it brittle

chicks dig me made it! (author)chicks dig me2009-06-12

yes and putting it in hot or warm salt water and cool it down slowly makes it juuuuust right. depending.

Delo97 made it! (author)Delo972011-07-21

Yay 4 Che!

chicks dig me made it! (author)chicks dig me2011-12-13


dfedde made it! (author)dfedde2009-06-01

yes it dose make it brittle if you get it to hot and quench it to soon. its a balancing act if its to hard it will break in the lock and if its to soft it will bend in the lock (btw)"the katana and other swords in it's family have 2 different grades of steel in the blade a hard steel to keep an edge and a soft steel so the sward wont break on impact"

Janjakko made it! (author)Janjakko2009-04-18

putting something really hot into the cold water will set the molecules. If done properly the metal usually turns a solid color, but if done improperly, it will change into a spectrum of colors.

coolboy45 made it! (author)coolboy452009-03-30

not always sometimes it does sometimes it doesn't

SirNoodlehe made it! (author)2011-08-03

so what do I need the weird stain for?

dll932 made it! (author)2011-01-25

You wanna play Secret Agent, that's fine, but if you get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time...those will be considered burglar's tools...and you get to hire the lawyer to prove they weren't. After you get out on bond, that is.


Too true. In the UK it is known as 'going equipped'. Without being in the guild of locksmiths, you're probably best of using these in the safety of you're own home.

TwistedButSane made it! (author)2010-05-26

 Would this work just as well with a gas stove top?

PlatypusBiscuit made it! (author)PlatypusBiscuit2010-06-24

I tried it with my stove, and the first time it got softer, but I did it a second time and it worked.

ninja-sam made it! (author)ninja-sam2010-10-06

the stove doesnt work to well.... there is a technique call tempering. it heats the metal and leave to cool, and then it will get softer, you need speed to do it wiht the stove..

schumacher magic made it! (author)2010-06-21

it works better if you use a bobby pin and you dont have to do all that reheating

kingmickey made it! (author)2010-05-31

 The tempering process all depends on the temperature of the steel right before quenching.  When I do my chisels, I get it red hot, pull it out of the forge, then quickly grind off the black carbon with a grinder.  A rainbow of faint colours will appear, and they will change colour as it starts to cool.  When the tip of the chisel is just starting to get to the yellow end of the spectrum, that's the exact time to drop it in my quenching oil.  Never tried a thin paperclip...

Anarx made it! (author)2010-05-17

instead of using just water mix salt, dawn dish soap, and jet dray the ratios i have are for a 5 gallon bucket so i'm not sure on this for small ammounts. just add good amounts of all of it.

this will provide a much better hardening then just using water. this actually adds a bit a of carbon to the steel.

this will probably make it more brittle so be careful not to break your pick off in the lock.

Don,t try this at home made it! (author)2009-08-24

Do that about 2 times the heat it up again and let it cool so it will be hard and wont brake.

punkhead58 made it! (author)punkhead582009-12-19

On the contrary, multiple temperings (in uncontrolled conditions) will make the steel very brittle and it will crack inside the lock. That is very bad.

nutsandbolts_64 made it! (author)nutsandbolts_642010-02-27

here's my idea: temper, quench, temper, quench, temper, let air cool.

beehard44 made it! (author)beehard442010-03-01

Careful on this. i tried 1 temper-cool cycle, hard! when i did another one i expected it to be harder, but it is more bendy than a regular ppclip

nutsandbolts_64 made it! (author)nutsandbolts_642010-03-01

weird, i wonder if the laws of chemistry, thermodynamics or even court-type law apply? 

nutsandbolts_64 made it! (author)nutsandbolts_642010-03-01

pun intended


True but you need to know when to stop not like i do it 20 times so that probably wont happen

fallenspirit123 made it! (author)fallenspirit1232009-09-16

but then it will be very brittle or too soft


Mine works fine it doesn't bend.

fallenspirit123 made it! (author)fallenspirit1232009-09-17

hmm, well Ill try it then

soilman89 made it! (author)2009-12-13

 dos it really work

ge7243 made it! (author)2009-08-28

A nice and to-the-point instructable. I just now tried this with a smaller butane jet lighter (~2.50 USD from Walmart) and I'm rather pleased with the results. But of course I won't know for sure until I give it a try I guess. :D

chicks dig me made it! (author)2009-06-12

yes, i hate those disclqaimers. its not like youre telling me to rob somebody, and im not a meanie. you should in no way be lyable for any of anybody ealses mistakes

Fast tutorials made it! (author)2009-05-08

Where to get tension wrench`?

Bongmaster made it! (author)2008-09-28

any tips on making a tension wrench? :)

foxtrot4697 made it! (author)foxtrot46972008-10-14

ummm.... nice pic

Bongmaster made it! (author)Bongmaster2008-10-15

heh :3

foxtrot4697 made it! (author)foxtrot46972008-10-23


corey_caffeine made it! (author)corey_caffeine2009-04-11

*resists /b/tard instincts*

pyrotech made it! (author)pyrotech2008-09-28

another instructable is soon to follow

thatguysbow made it! (author)2008-10-21

isnt it dangous to light a torch with a match? shouldt you use a flint striker?

Colonel88 made it! (author)Colonel882008-12-24

It is. Why dont you heat it up wih a lighter? the thing looks even more dangerous than a lighter. It looks impressive(The torch, nt the lockpick) but it is also dangerous.

Robotrix made it! (author)2008-09-28

Hey, just to be technical: tempering is softening the metal to a point, like you said, where it is hard enough to be strong but soft enough to be flexible. This is done by heating the metal to a specific temperature and then quenching it. Annealing is the process where you heat the metal to say a cherry red and then let it air cool or otherwise become cold over a long period of time. This process results in what is know as "dead-soft" metal, which is the softest you can get it. So, you're right in your comment, but you're including details of both tempering and annealing and the goals are slightly different.

pyelitegamerro76 made it! (author)pyelitegamerro762008-09-29

I stand corrected.

mrmath made it! (author)2008-09-28

no, I don't hate it when people put in those disclaimers.

tyeo098 made it! (author)2008-09-28

Coulnt you take the 'bendy' one and temper it? It looks like more of a tool with a handle for easy of use...

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