Introduction: Cheap Mans Lock Picks

Picture of Cheap Mans Lock Picks

*Disclaimer* I am posting this instructable for informational purposes only. if you choose to use this information i assume no responsibility for anything that you do. DO NOT USE THIS INFORMATION FOR ILLEGAL PURPOSES. AGAIN THIS IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

now this instructable will only cost you about 20 cents (american money) these lock picks will work only on "wafer tumbler locks"!

Step 1: Materials:

Picture of Materials:

all you need is two small paperclips (preferrably not coated in the rubber coating)

the last thing you need is a cheap home office filing cabinet lock.

Step 2: Bend the First Paperclip

Picture of Bend the First Paperclip

bend the first paperclip into the shape in the image (just pull the middle part up i hope this helps!) if the image is not clear enough please leave me a comment my webcam is 6 years old.

we will call this one the tension wrench.

Step 3: Bend the Last Paperclip

Picture of Bend the Last Paperclip

bend the paperclip into the shape shown (bend it into about a 45 degree angle)

Step 4: You Are Ready

Picture of You Are Ready

these picks will last a couple of times. if you dont know how to pick a lock then just google it you should get thousands of links.

again i assume no responsibility for what you do with these if you get caught it is not my problem. these picks will only work on cheapo filing cabinets. this was my first instructable so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.


jj20205 (author)2013-09-29

Very unclear images

barfbag132 (author)2012-01-14

i picked a padlock using the style shown in the pictures above

Xeuvious (author)2010-10-15

If you want a decent set of picks to goof around with check out Southern Ordinance's site ( You can buy pick sets there for a range of prices. Some as low as $10 or so.

Joanassie (author)2009-11-10

So which is the torsion wrench and which actually moves the pins?

ptg1997! (author)2008-01-25

I tried do pick the lock on my sliding door but my first paper clip didn't fit

Meleemaker (author)ptg1997!2009-08-19

picking a door lock is very difficult compared to a filing cabinent because it has more pins and could be a different style of lock than a wafer tumbling pin lock. Once yuo can get filing cabinents, try masterlocks(with professional made picks to start and then you can start using paperclips again). Then doors. It takes a feel to use the tension wrench and pick together on certain locks

LifeWarrior (author)2009-07-28

Wow, Just locked it back for the night with the same pick!!!

LifeWarrior (author)2009-07-28

Amazing I'm sitting here at my desk, ticked off cause I rode my motorcycle in and forgot the keys to my cabinet couldn't get to anything all day, just stumbled across this. Figured what the hell, so I borrowed a couple of paper clips from the next door cubicle and bent up the tension one. After clicking the tine a couple of times while trying to turn at the same time the tumblers paired up and it started to turn. BADAS* instructable dude, great job!!!

nave (author)2007-10-28

20 cents for two paper clips? we're not THAT cheap are we?

bighead5454 (author)nave2009-07-28

no we r cheaper

shaneomacmcgee (author)2009-06-28

I used to pick my old filing cabinet, but I would just shove a nail file (or similarly shaped object) into the lock, and turn+wiggle simultaneously and it'd pop open cool 'ible tho, instructions could b a tad more descriptive

nkk07 (author)2008-01-11

errrr mine kinda got stuck in my shed lock. :S

N1CK4ND0 (author)nkk072009-06-26

Smooth, lol.

oakback (author)2009-06-26

I leaned against a file cabinet at work, and locked it by mistake (the kind where the lock pops out when unlocked). I used paperclips, very similar to this, to unlock it. Took awhile, but it worked! Great alternative to drilling it out, since most of the file cabinets we had didn't have keys to them.

Comanchee (author)2009-05-11

Ummmm it sounds interesting!

bassmonkey (author)2009-05-02

i was bending the paperclip, and on broke, so i put it in the lock, twist it and it works!!! (true story)

stevoIution (author)2007-10-19

Won't work if the lock cost any more that $2.

musicninja17 (author)stevoIution2009-04-10

Not necissarily. I have successfully picked door locks that cost well over $2 with a simple paperclip.

andrew13 (author)2008-06-22

paperclips dont work as well as making picks out of hack saw blades.

musicninja17 (author)andrew132009-04-10

It does if you know how to use them correctly. It does work, you just need to practice.

Armaggedon (author)2008-10-31

dos it work?

musicninja17 (author)Armaggedon2009-04-10

If you can pick correctly, than yes, it does.

wh1tenegro (author)2008-10-07

isnt that clear but managable....

itchman (author)2008-09-20

I use a nail clipper like you have on key chain,that has a nail file curved on the for me on file cabs.

andrew13 (author)2008-06-23

what the heck! i CAN NOT pick a lock! i used to be able to and now i cant!

calapp (author)2008-01-18

Use the large size clip. It just worked fine for me on a filing cabinet for which I lost the key. Opened in 10 seconds w/o even using the second clip. Thanks Twitchy.

Hawaii00000 (author)2007-12-02

Made mine and it worked on a cheap lock.

blaznmonkey (author)2007-11-06

i do the version it works well

RTZ (author)2007-10-29

The paperclip works best as a pick, but bending a nail and hammering it makes a good tension wrench. Still looking for ways to make a stronger more durable pick though...

Shabadage (author)2007-10-20

Using smaller paper clips tends to work well (No pounding to slim them down or the like); however you need to forge the clips first. This is easily done with a lighter and a cup of water. About 3 forges will do it; but be sure not to break the temper (No glowing red paperclips). The resulting clip will be stronger, though will break a bit faster (as it's not as bendy)

theRIAA (author)2007-10-17

all you need is one average paperclip (and no tools) to pick cheap padlocks (like masterlocks) twist the paperclip in the middle until it breaks, one of these 2 peices will be you're pick. you may notice the pick is two sided, one side is strait (a jiggler) the other side is a medium hook which can be bend a little bit straiter (in the keyhole) to be a small hook. you're other tool, while almost identical, is actually you're tension wrench. the hooked side can be inserted into the bottom of the keyway (hook up, but not in the way of the pins) and then bent down to make a fine wrench. BUT, if that dosent work (it slips if you are unlucky) then you have to make a sharp bend in the other side of the wrench (with the keyway) and flaten that out to make a "flat" wrench which you can stick in the keyway and bend.

kimota.nomis (author)2007-10-17

I have actually done this many times before. Two paper clips will do the job just fine. You straighten out one of them and use it to rake the pins in the tumbler (iKill-I think you meant to say "99% of locks have the pins in an area too small...). The other paper clip should also be flattened out, bent in half so that the ends of the wire are parallel and even with eachother. This clip should then bent into a 90 degree angle for use as a tensioner. The wire the paper clip is made of is plenty strong enough to place a little bit of torque on the tumbler while the pins are being raked with the first clip. I just did it a second ago, while I was writing this reply so that I could describe the method accurately. You don't really need any tools for it, just the manual dexterity that any adult should possess. Anyway....

reddeth (author)2007-10-17

Paper clip lockpicks WILL work, what you need to do is flatten the metal of the paper clip out using a hammer and other flat object. The goal is to get them as flat as possible, then use a dremel (or grinder) to slim them down some more. You're not going to pick a ton of locks, and you're better off investing a good quality set of lockpicks, but with some paperclips and a screwdriver for tension its not impossible.

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-10-17

sorry. but these dont look good :-( and also if you use the mini paper clips, they bend reall bad sry!

iKill (author)2007-10-17

wont work...99% of locks have the tumblers in an area too small for the thickness of a paper clip. But it is a really good idea

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