Keychain Folding Lockpick (now Updated With Tension Wrench)





Introduction: Keychain Folding Lockpick (now Updated With Tension Wrench)

About: Im a bit of a geek of all trades. Of late most of my free energy has going into Making sure our hacker/makerspace is awesome! Come check us out!

Converting a cheap keychain knife into a easy to carry folding pocket pick

Step 1: Materials List

• You will need a folding key knife, Once i get a little more practice on the cheap $2 ones like pictured above, I will probably look for the locking version made by SOG. I got this in a 3-pack form Amazon for $6 total, but Harbor freight also sells one for $1.99

• You will need a template (in this case i used one of my existing picks)

• Clear scotch tape

• Some sort of grinder (i used a simple 6" bench top grinder, but a dremel would work too.

• Some sandpaper (I used about 220 grit)

• Some water, i used a small plastic cup of it (this is to quench/cool the steel periodically when grinding)

* A soft oily wax candle (optional), often called votive candles.

Step 2: Getting Started

Start with your template, pick your pick, Mind you this is not a locking blade knife, so you might run into some issues with rakes, or double sided picks, I went for a simple J lifter pick

(*If you don't have any picks, your going to need to find a photo online and print at the right size it and probably cut it out.)

Taking a lighter or a candle. get some soot on the pick, (holding it a few cm above the flame is usually best.

Wait for the pick to cool back down.

Put some scotch tape on the sooty pick, and rub it down.

Pull up the tape, with your soot on it and apply it to the knife blade.

Rub it down, and trim away any extra tape.

(if you didn't have a pick, just put your paper pattern on the tape and rub it down. it might be a good idea to use glue stick on the paper too so it won't come loose when grinding)

Step 3: Getting to the Grind

Safety is important, wear eye protection when grinding.

Make sure your water cup is nearby (not pictured)

I started with grinding the tip, just grind away until its just outside the lines of your template

*Go slow, you can always grind more, but you can't put it back.

After a few seconds of grinding the steel may get very hot, we don't want to change the temper of the steel, so after a few seconds of shaping, dunk it in the water cup. if you hear it sizzle you were getting too hot, and will want to do it a little sooner

After getting the tip right i roughed out the rest of the shape. grinding and dipping in water, and grinding...

When it was pretty much the shape I wanted, it was time to grind it thinner. I had picked the back of the knife to be my pick, and that is where the blade was thickest, so i had to grind it from being very V shaped into a much thinner || shape. I did this by slowly grinding off the side of the blade that does not have the fingernail opening divot (this also happened to be the opposite side from my template too)

*remember go slow, if you grind it too thin it will be weak, you want a nice even grind, so keep the blade moving and inspect often.

Once it was as thin as my other picks, I finished following the template and grinding off any other rough parts.

Step 4: Finishing

From here it should look like a pick. But there is some finishing to do.

Get the sandpaper out (i used 220grit aluminum oxide), sand down all the surfaces you grinded, a smooth pick is a good pick! takes a little time but its worth it. you could follow it up with 500 or 800grit, (i have not yet) but you could get it back to a mirror like gleam.

Verify that its indeed thin enough for locks, compare it against your original and grind or hand file any spots that need any adjustments. (don't forget to sand it after.

And then lastly, I like to lubricate my picks. I usually wipe them down with a soft cloth, and then once again using a candle or lighter I heat up the pick, (just hot enough to really melt wax, not glowing hot!!! ) and plunge the pick into a soft yellow votive candle wax. (like the candle pictured above) pull it out and wipe off any extra wax. this both helps to keep the pick from rusting, and it helps the pins slide over the surface a little easier if you didn't get every little bit of grinding microscopically smooth.

Happy Pickings!

I hope you enjoyed the Instructable. I'm still mulling over ideas on how to attach a usable tension wrench to clip onto it, or onto the keyring.

Step 5: Tension Wrench Addendum.

Followed the same technique to make a folding tension wrench, ground down the blade and made it small enough to fit bottom of the keyway, its not the lightest feel, a beginner would do better to have a more springy wrench, but on the 3 locks I had on hand it worked.



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    19 Discussions

    As a General Contractor/Handyman/Tinker I could not begin to list the times a customer has asked if I could open a cabinet or car or something with a pick. I normally make them of SS butter knives, but the handles do wind up a bit heavy.

    This sounds like a great, lightweight, easy to carry, method. And note, the TSA does NOT allow key knives, or any sharp object, on you. I have even received objections to my P-38 Military style can opener!! (Like I was gonna threaten to open the side of a plane with a P-38!)

    And, be nice. There isn't much to be had our of insulting fellow contributors here.

    So get the three pack. You'll have a tiny knife *and* a lock pick

    5 minutes of looking can easily net a half dozen quicker and easier ways through or around a lock, if they don't care about damage, and they even bother to go through the door instead of a window. Thieves are all about the quick and easy. A burglar isn't going to sit outside the door picking the lock for several minutes. The only reason for a thief to consider picking a lock would be to conceal the entry, and any decent investigation will find it anyway since lock picking leaves identifiable marks on the lock. Assuming 'lock picks = thief' is about as reasonable as assuming 'pocket knife = murderer'.

    Calm down, enjoy the post or don't, but keep that acidic commentary off the site.


    2 years ago

    I have a good friend who picks (his own) locks as a hobby, might have to make this for his birthday.

    3 replies

    Me too, (I pick as a hobby), even started up a local Locksport group, we get together every other month, and teach, and share and trade locks. People freak out because what if we are helping train a criminal. To which i laugh, because a criminal does not care about damage, they will use a very fast and easy boot or crowbar.

    Especially funny in places like California, where everything is built out of popsicle sticks...true good door might be hard to bust, but the wall next to it?

    Cut your way in silently in 2 minutes with a hand tool. Or justback your vehicle right into the house

    Wow the group sounds like a great idea! I never thought about that.

    Two years tops before TSA bans keys, in fear they might actually be a knife in disguise.

    2 replies

    Oh don't worry Microogle or Applzon will have some proprietary $500 system for your phone that lets anybody hack into your house,open the door, and even operate your toaster oven if you're careless.

    Another post made by a rude and stupid person. Lock picks are useful tools that I use a lot. People are always losing their keys for their freezers and such and I can help them get in without tearing things up. As a repair person I consider lock picks just another tool. I guess that I probably have a lot of "Bad" tools to you. I, GASP, even carry a pocket knife. ( I also legally carry a gun but that is another story) Lock picks don't force a person to steal just like guns don't force people to shoot people.

    Good ible I have one of those nearly useless key knives and am going to finally put it to a good use. As a knife it is dull, almost impossible to sharpen and to soft to hold an edge if you do get it sharp.

    a waste of key knife and he was suggesting using a sog key knife so a waste of a useful tool for a tool of limited usefulness.

    To clarify legality in 4 states it is outright illegal to posses lock picks without a locksmith license the rest of the states they are considered burgling tools and intent needs to be proved so if your caught trespassing and they find your pick you get assumed intent of b&e. If you are in a traffic stop it is OK though. Overall it is not a good idea to have a pick on you as it can make things worse and only rarely make things better.


    2 years ago


    Did you read the BE NICE policy?

    Owning a lock pick is not illegal in many states. It is only illegal in some if you are found having them on you while committing a crime (such as breaking and entering)

    I for one do think they look cooler than just carrying a set of metal picks around and is more convenient then fumbling for my pouch of them.

    P.S. I'm sure this guy is a master thief robbing the rich! Best get the good ol sheriff of knottingham after him!

    1 reply

    This is pretty neat. As it is, I keep mine in a mini-screwdriver sleeve in my wallet. A key would certainly make it easier to get to, on my keychain instead of my wallet.

    Also, Realitycheck, lockpicks are good for a very large number of non-illegal things. I personally have used my wallet set as screwdrivers, reset-button pushers, and to open the occasional locked cabinet at work so I can check on a document without going to find a key.

    Why? Because its not uncommon for me to be called by work to deal with locksmith related tasks, but yet i may not always want to carry bulky pack of picks, or thin poky things in my pockets. Contrary to most movies and tv shows, you will find that picks are extremely rarely used in the commission of a crime. (its too unsure, most thieves use bolt cutters or drills or just merely kick in the door.) its the honest lock sport hobbyists, locksmiths and handymen who are the most likely to have/use picks. and i fall into 2 of those 3 categories.