What Is Lockpicking?

Translated from German by Abha Vardhan (2019)


The word ‘lockpicking’ is an English word that means ‘lock cracking’. 

You will be surprised to learn that lockpicking has become a sport. People open locked doors with different tools and there is even an annual lock picking championship. 

You might be wondering what it is all about. Generally, it's not about unlocking doors, it's about technical tricks and the associated skills needed to open a cylinder lock. The goal is to hear the click when picking the lock.

The Use of Standard Tools for Lockpicking

In this article, we are not discussing ways to open a door by force. Sure, you could just take a drill, put on the cylinder lock and work on it. The lock will be drilled and unlocked but you have to use a completely new closing mechanism for the door. Anyone can do that and it comes with a cost.

Let’s go through the step by step instructions on how to open a lock without using destructive methods. 

Locksmiths have special tools and the required skills to open a door. Of course, in the case of an emergency, the door is broken, kicked or even shot at. The tools for lockpicking crack the door without causing any visible damage to the door or lock. The tools and expert skills work to open a door lock or security lock non-violently and non-destructively. 

 To open a door, you don’t need high-tech tools that cost a lot of money. Special tools are used for complicated and high-security locks that are more difficult to open than standard locks.

The regular lockpicking tools leave only minimal traces (micro-scratches on the scanning tools), while professional lockpicking tools leave no trace at all. The Electro Shock Pens help to open the door lock and don’t leave any visible effects.

The Most Well-Known Tools of Lockpicking

The best method to unlock doors is considered Single Pin Picking because it is very accurate and also works to enhance skills that you can use to open more advanced and high-security locks.

This is imperative as there are only a few high-security locks you can use with the method of raking alone.

The Single Pin Picking technique offers better control of the lock so that you know what’s going on inside. With this technique, you are actually operating each pin one by one. You raise them, set them or leave them if they don’t want to set and then move on to another pin. This may look like a daunting task in the beginning but it’s worth your time.

Let’s learn about standard lock picking tools first:

The Tension Wrench: An Absolute Must For Lock Picking

Without the tension wrench tool, you will not be able to crack a door lock. 

While you are picking locks with tools, you need to apply tension to the lock in order to unlock it. One cannot undermine the importance of tension when picking locks. If you apply too much or too little pressure, the pins will not be able to set properly.

The best thing is that you can easily make these simple tools as they are simply a piece of thin rectangular metal with a right-angle bend on both sides. In order to make it more efficient, you can indent the ‘L’ of the tension wrench or buy a serrated tension wrench. This will give you more grip when you are working with the locks and prevent it from falling out.

If your tension wrench comes out of the keyhole or you are not able to create tension, you must reset it and start picking the lock again. There is also a twisted tension wrench available on the market with a right angle bend just after the ‘L’ bend. You can simply rest your finger on the wrench when using a twisted tension wrench and this will help you work longer in rigorous lock picking sessions.

Let’s learn how to work with a tension wrench.

You hold the tension wrench in your hands, insert it in the lock and let the pressure apply to the side of a cylinder so that the pins slide correctly into the shear line.

If you are putting the necessary amount of force on the pad, it will rotate after the driver pin passes the shear line.

If you are wondering how much pressure you should apply, keep in mind that if your tension wrench is twisting, you are actually using a lot of force. So, take it easy and use a reduced amount of pressure.

These tension wrench tools are available in different sizes and are usually made of alloy material. Professionals have the tensioner made of a carbon alloy to leave no traces at the lock.

The Hook

The hook pick is the most common lock pick for single pin locking and it is also referred to as a Lifter Pick or a Short Hook Pick. You will find numerous versions of the standard hook pick such as Rocker Picks, Rocker hooks, and Gonzo Hooks. However, when you are using a single pin method, it is advised that you use a smaller hook.

As mentioned before, the tension wrench holds the core of the cylinder in tension. With the scanning tools, the pins of the cylinder are scanned and placed in position. If all pins are in the correct position, the tension wrench can turn the core easily and open the door or security lock. It is as simple as that.

The hook is curved at the end and serves to scan individual pins piece by piece. There are also alloys made of carbon to mask the evidence of an opening. If you're new to lockpicking, you'll probably start with the hook first.

Half Diamond Tool

The Half Diamond is another effective lockpicking tool that works in accordance with the size of the keyhole and the size of its tip. Just like any other tool, it is available in three sizes, which are small, standard and large. Each tool will differ depending on the company you have purchased it from. Nevertheless, the most useful is a small size, the standard one can be efficiently used as a rake and the large one is required for filing.

The half diamond tool has a widening shape at the end of the tool that looks like a triangle. There’s a slope on both sides that lets it slide past the pins and get below the lower pins that are placed in the keyway.

The pointed edge of this tool moves pins when you apply tension in the locks. You can press the half diamond tool forward in a lock and set the pins. The hook helps to lever the lock, which might need space that you may not have.

Like raking, you can put the half diamond tool at the back of the keyway and pull it hastily out of the lock. The large sized half diamond tool is not used much.

The Drop Diamond tool is useful due to its spherical shape for the individual setting of cylindrical pins. With the drop diamond tool, you can accurately pick the lock. The drop diamond is the most widely used tool for key services.


You will find that there are two types of rake tools that are quite popular. The L rake, also known as city rake, has a saw blade shape that works in an up and down motion in the keyway. Its main purpose is to mimic the biting on the key.

The rake that is used the most is called the Bagota, which is used by moving the tool in a rocking motion in the keyway. If you are considering buying a raking tool, make sure that you don’t buy very thin ones as they easily succumb to pressure and break.

If you are working on a lock with security pins, you can use your rake to get a false set. This signifies that your pins are on the shear line but the lock is still not opened. The rake will not be able to open the lock with security pins.

Always Buy High-Quality Lockpicking Tools!

These are the most common types of lockpicking tools you can use for lockpicking. If you are a beginner, start by adding these standard tools to your lockpicking kit and increase your set as you enhance your lockpicking skills.

As you are growing your expertise of unlocking locks, you can work on refining your tools in accordance with your needs. It is worth noting that you should check the quality of metal when choosing tools as it can surely influence your outcome and also ensures their longevity.  

The best tool will be made from good quality steel and will have a standard thickness and a handle. The width of your tools will also determine the number of times you can use it for lockpicking. If you need thin tools for certain locks, make sure you find the ones with great tensile strength so that they can withstand the tension when sued.

One of the most important things you need to know about is the legalities in your state to ensure that you are not acting illegally.


Source: elektroschock-kugelschreiber.de

Written by: Stefan

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