Learn To Pick Locks For Fun, Increase Understanding Of Security

Learn To Pick Locks For Fun, Increase Understanding Of Security

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.

Build Your Own Vibrating Lock Pick

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)

Crack a Master Combination


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.


  • There are enough little scroats around my area that try to get in to peoples houses, without teaching them how to to it. C’mon guys,.. just cos you can do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do it!! I realise that this is supposed to be a fun exercise for so called enthusiasts, But it seems more like a primer for a career in B&E as far as I’m concerned. :{ C’mon,.. you knew someone would complain 🙂

    • @Nodeity

      I’m sure that if someone was serious about a career in B&E they’d have looked in more places than just lifehacker for tips. If you read through this article and maybe learned about how locks work and how they can be circumvented then perhaps you would better understand how to protect you and your possessions more appropriately.

      • Yes I realise that, I’m not a complete idiot,.. I just don’t see how tutorials on the subject is helping. As for understanding how locks work, your average Joe doesn’t need this kind of detail to keep his house free from Thieving little pests.

      • Oh,.. and by the way the Pdf download is not working, probably because of all the interest in the subject, myself included. No doubt they crashed the portal. I wonder how many house breaking little scroats are in that lot? :[

    • From my experience with the AFP, none of the scrotes around your place will bother learning to pick a lock. It’s so much easier to put a brick through a window, or crowbar off a security screen. And you’ll be surprised how many people sleep right through it.
      Someone I worked with gave up on locking his house up because it would just mean that if someone decided to burgle it, he’d have to deal with a smashed window as well as the stolen goods. It’s best just to have good insurance and inventory.

  • i think it shows how easy it is for people to learn these skills. Everyone should take a read, even if your not going to practice the skills, so when it comes to home security, you can be better prepared. Just cause you dont know about something, doesnt me the crim who is going to break into your house, wont either. 😉

  • Only a vanishingly small proportion of people who might break into your house will ever bother to try to pick a lock. There are many faster, and typically more destructive, ways of getting in. Burglars etc. are not the black clad, stealthy anti-heroes you see on TV, they’re usually drugged up little scrotes doing a quick “get in, nick what looks resellable, get out”. As often as not they don’t even need to break in, open doors and windows are very common.

    (and no, I’m not a burglar)

  • I first read about pick-locking about 2 years ago and have found it very interesting. Even had a friend give me some old tools of his he used to play with. It was surprising (and scary) how easy it was to pick a lock. Being more aware of this definatly has made me more aware of security.

    PLUS…I’ve been locked out of my own place before and was able to get in without having to pay $180 for a locksmith on the weekend thanks to articles like this.

    The more people that are aware of how easy it is to get around standard “security” the better. Not because it means people can break in, but because they’ll invest in proper locks that aren’t simple or possible to pick. Crims already know this stuff anyway(or just use a brick) so it’s the average Joe that wins knowing this stuff!

  • Here then, this is how easy it is to pick locks. Good tip for making sure you don’t get locked outside the house next time. I’m learning the skills thanks.

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