DIY Lock Picks

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About: I'm a writer, maker, and educator who's on a mission to better the world through hands-on engineering projects. Check out my work: LanceMakes.com

Intro: DIY Lock Picks

If you enjoy this project, then check out my books: Rubber Band Engineer and Duct Tape Engineer. || More engineering projects || Everything I make

I locked myself out of my house the other day... D'oh! It would've been easy enough to break a window, but hey it's my own home. So I decided to try and pick my way in. I used a pair of garden shears to cut up a hose clamp which I used as a pick and tension wrench. Even though it was a very crude piece of work, it did the job!

So I decided to polish my impromptu lock picks into something more presentable. Now that I'm not locked out of my home, I was able to use these things to make a simple lock pick and tension wrench:

Hose clamp
Dremel
Sugru
Pliers
Vice
Safety gear

Don't have a Dremel? Like I said, I made picks using rusty garden shears, so I'm sure you can be resourceful, too.

I've entered this into the Spy Contest. These may not be the most sophisticated lock picks, but a spy must be ever resourceful when a situation becomes dire (like locking oneself out of one's own home...)

This is just an example of how I made some simple lock picks. There are many different designs and materials out there. I hope this Instructable inspires you to make something for fun in the way you want, not necessarily copy what I did here. And of course, use lock picks for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!

Step 1: Prep the Hose Clamp

I chose to use a hose clamp to make these lock picks for a few reasons. Hose clamps are made from very thin and rigid steel, which is ideal for picks, and the slotted part of the band can be easily cut with a Dremel or even good quality hand tools. Hose clamps are also inexpensive and easy to find at hardware stores. And perhaps most importantly, it's what I found lying around in my backyard the first time!

Begin by completely unscrewing the hose clamp and laying it flat as shown in the second photo.

Step 2: Cut and Shape the Pick

If you have a vice, secure the flattened hose clamp in it. I did not have a vice, so I held the clamp in place with a cinder block. Use the Dremel to cut a thin 5" strip of from the slotted part of the hose clamp. Hold the loose end of the clamp with pliers. And of course, use safety goggles, dust mask, and protective gloves.

Next, use the Dremel to clean up the pick (2nd picture). If you don't have a Dremel, use a file. Use pliers to give the end of the pick a slight upward bend. I also ground one of the ends of the pick into a semi-circle - this helps the pick get under the pins (3rd picture).

Step 3: Cut and Shape the Tension Wrench

With the hose clamp still in the vice (or smooshed in place by a cinder block), cut another 5" off for the tension wrench (picture 2). Use the Dremel one more time to cut a few of the 'teeth' off of the end of the hose clamp (picture 3). Finally, use a pair of pliers to bend the end of the tension wrench (picture 4).

Step 4: Apply Sugru + Video

Use the Dremel or file to clean up any rough edges (this is only necessary for the parts that are inserted into the lock because the rest will be covered in Sugru). I also bent the end of my pick just because it allows for a better grip.

Finally, apply Sugru to any part of the pick and wrench that will not be inserted into the lock. Rub a small amount of dish soap over the Sugru to achieve a smooth texture.

As a novice lock picker, being able to easily grip the picks greatly reduces hand fatigue. It's also just plain comfy, and hey, who doesn't like to use Sugru at every possible opportunity?

Let the Sugru cure overnight, and then you're finished!

Here's a short clip of the lock picks being used on a cheap 4-pin padlock I bought at a thrift store for practice:

Step 5: Ideas for Improvement + Resources

There are a hundred ways to make a good lock pick - this Instructable is simply what worked best for me with the tools and skills I possess. However I'm sure there are better ways to make lock picks. More than a step-by-step tutorial, this Instructable should be used as a jumping point for your own creative designs. Maybe it would be a good idea to leave one of the 'teeth' at the end of the pick to help push the pins out of the tumbler. I've also read that grinding an allen wrench or screwdriver down to key-width makes for a good pick.

Here's a helpful guide on how lock picking works, which can be downloaded in PDF format for free: http://learnlockpicking.com/howto.html

Have fun being a maker, and be smart about how you choose to use lock picks!

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    67 Discussions

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    jack002

    1 year ago

    I have used bike spokes, you smash them with a hammer on an anvil, also metal inside used wiper blades is great

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    stealthop

    2 years ago

    I think hacksaw blades would be the way to go . Great instructable very intuitive .

    2 replies
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    tpeters8stealthop

    Reply 2 years ago

    sitting here trying to think of something that might be just a little stronger and you nailed it with the hacksaw blade idea. thanks!

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    stealthoptpeters8

    Reply 2 years ago

    The cool thing about hacksaw blades is you can get em in various widths including but not limited to 0.025 for american locks and 0.015 for european / paracentric locks. Also you can get different grades of steel .
    I hope this helps , enjoy ?

    is it true that a good dead lock can't be picked because the bolt is to heavy or hard to move with the pick? I heard that once but that doesn't sound very true after reading about lock-picking.

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    mce128adam 101

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    An actual DEADLOCK mechanism can't really be picked from the outside without doing quite noticable damage to the door and lock. This is due to the DEADLOCKING mechanism being contained completely inside the lock and having NO interface on the outward facing side of the lock. I am oversimplifying this a bit, but not much.

    A DEADBOLT OTOH, whole 'nother story... there are very few locking mechanisms which are still yet unpicked, and they are not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination and some are even fairly difficult to get depending on what country you live in (ubiquity varies by country due to other locks being popular in other countries.) However, to someone who is VERY well practiced and continues to practice regularly and skilled as well, most locks are not an impediment. It comes back to the old adage "Locks are to keep honest people honest."

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    mce128mce128

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I think I need to clarify my first statement, a DEADLOCK mechanism can't be picked at all, it can be damaged so as to access it's operational parts making TONS of noise and mess, attracting LOTS of attention.

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    gozzo68.mce128

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    deadlocks CAN be picked. The whole idea of picking a lock is to use the picks and wrench as a key. So if it opens with a key it CAN be picked I find dead locks easier than ordinary locks as the heaviness of the mechanism allows the use of less finnese

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    mce128gozzo68.

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    You are thinking of a deadbolt which of course can be picked so long as there is a lock cylinder (some are only a thumbturn on the interior and have no external cylinder or access.) A deadlock, however, is an internal mechanism which prevents the movement of the bolt and is not attached to any external mechanism(s), with the only physical interface being an actuator of some sort that is located on the interior side only. And regardless of it only being on the interior, it is just a knob, slider, button or similar, there is absolutely nothing to pick.

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    RobbieR1mce128

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Most deadbolts i have ever tried to pick has been fairly easy assuming i have my full LP kit, a lot of american deadbolts can be pretty easily bi passed which a pro would try first. Bi passing is quicker,easier,and more efficient

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    gozzo68.adam 101

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    no any lock can be picked, although it takes practice and patience locks with mushroom pins are way harder to pick. Also someone mentioned bump keys in an above comment. Bump keys take A LOT of practice and are very loud. A five pound hammer would be quicker and one single loud thump attracts way less attention. Thieves are thieves because they are lazy. Picking a lock takes work.

    is it true that a good dead lock can't be picked because the bolt is to heavy or hard to move with the pick? I heard that once but that doesn't sound very true after reading about lock-picking.

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    Skymeatadam 101

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Like Salmonella said. It can be picked. Some locks are harder than others.

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    ThomasN4

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I'd like to point out that this is not picking, it's a variation called raking. Though it still gets the job done on most lower quality locks, if you have a fairly good lock, raking won't cut it.

    Though I agree raking is a valuable skill to learn, especially to the beginner, if you're serious about lock picking you should learn to SPP (Single Pin Pick).