Learning to pick locks is a fun exercise in learning about locking mechanisms, honing a useful skill, and getting a better understanding of how locks work and protect — or fail to protect — you and your stuff.
Photo by Lanchongzi.
If you've never picked a lock before, you're missing out. It's a fun, for the most part it's a strictly analogue/mechanical pursuit (a therapeutic break from electronic gadgets), and unlike, say, learning to juggle, when you end up locked out of your house you can actually put your skill to use.
The best place to get started with lock picking is to look up a local chapter of Locksport International. Not only does it add in a social element to the hobby but in meeting up with other more seasoned lock picking enthusiasts you'll get a chance to see and try out all sorts of tools and practice lock sets that would cost a bundle to buy when you're just getting started. Download Locksport International Guide to Lockpicking here. If you're really interested in learning about locks and lock-picking, don't bookmark the guide and hope to get around to it later. It's an excellent visual primer and extremely accessible; go grab the PDF and read it.
In addition to highlight the Locksport International guide, we've covered some pretty neat techniques over the years for dealing with locks and doors.
Pick a Lock with a Bump Key
Two years ago, bump key lock-picking was all over the internet — though it certainly wasn't new to criminals or locksmiths. People couldn't believe how easy it was pick many simple locks using little more than a key blank and a screw driver.
As you get more into lock-picking you'll be tempted to buy some of the cool toys out there. Skip the $US100+ vibrating lock pick sets and build your own from around $US10 worth of parts — principally an Oral-B vibrating toothbrush. (original story)
Unlock a Sliding Chain Lock with a Rubber Band
While not technically lock-picking, it's a very simple and clever method for opening a chain lock using nothing more than a rubber band. If you've picked a lock and found a security chain behind it, you just need a rubber band and a deft hand. (original story)
Got a master combination lock you want to get open, but you don't want to destroy the lock or what it's attached to? Follow the link above to download a flowchart to guide you through cracking the combination without damaging the lock. Don't have time to diddle your way through testing combinations and following a flowchart? Open it with a beer can:
While the above videos showcase some pretty flashy techniques, we'd again direct you back to the Locksport International Guide to Lockpicking. It's a rock-solid beginner's guide to picking locks, taking them apart, tinkering with them, and learning quite a bit about lock history and mechanics in the process.
If you're a lock-picking hobbyist, sound off in the comments with your favourite resources, tools or tricks, and help your fellow readers get started with the hobby.