How To Pick A Best Lock

Ever been stuck outside your own home, wrestling with a stubborn lock? You're definitely not alone in that frustrating moment. During my quest for solutions, I stumbled upon an interesting fact: burglars often skip the lock-picking and find other ways in.

So, this guide is designed to walk you through selecting the ideal lock, understanding different types of locks out there, and getting a grip on some basic techniques. Hang tight for some key insights that might just save the day!

Key Takeaways

  • There are many types of locks, like Pin Cylinder, Lever, Wafer, Warded, and Disc Detainer. Each type has its own way to lock and unlock.
  • To pick a lock successfully involves preparing it with care, using the right tools like tension wrenches and picks, and mastering techniques such as the raking method.
  • Lock picking requires patience and precision for effective results. Rushing can lead to mistakes that make the process longer.
  • It's important to choose correct tools based on the lock type. Different locks need different picking tools for success.
  • Always ensure safety and check local laws about lock picking to stay within legal boundaries while practicing or performing this skill.


Explore Different Types of Locks

1. Pin Cylinder Locks are common and rely on a set of pins to secure the lock.

2. Lever Locks operate with a series of levers within the locking mechanism, which must be lifted to specific heights to unlock.

3. Wafer Locks utilize wafer tumblers, making them difficult to pick due to their unique design.

4. Warded Locks have ward mechanisms that only allow specially shaped keys to turn in the lock successfully.

5. Disc Detainer Locks use rotating discs as their core security measure, requiring precise alignment for unlocking.

Understand Pin Cylinder Locks

Pin cylinder locks are everywhere, and I find them fascinating. These locks use a bunch of pins that move up and down when you insert the right key. What makes them so interesting is how each pin pair needs to reach a specific height for the lock to open.

It's like finding the perfect match where everything clicks—literally.


The beauty of pin cylinder locks lies in their complexity and simplicity all at once.


I've learned that these locks can have different features, such as security pins, dimple keys, and sidebars, which add layers of security. For example, bi-lock designs use two rows of pins and two sidebars for an extra level of protection.

This means picking or duplicating a key isn't straightforward—it takes skill and understanding how those tiny components work together inside the lock.

Discover Lever Locks

Moving from pin cylinder locks, I now turn my attention to lever locks. These locks are everywhere, from houses to businesses, making them a staple in security systems. Lever locks split into two main types: pin tumbler and cylinder.

You can often find them tucked inside wooden doors or on some older padlocks, like those used by the fire brigade. They're simpler to pick because they don't have as many security features compared to other types of locks.

I've learned that lever handle locks could also come with a magnetic keyed lock system. This adds an extra layer of security but keeps the mechanism straightforward enough for quick access when needed.

Picking these requires understanding their unique locking elements, which has been quite an eye-opener for me in exploring different locking mechanisms and their applications in everyday security needs.

Get to Know Wafer Locks

After exploring lever locks, I turned my attention to wafer locks. These locks are a bit different and you'll often find them in less secure places like cabinets, desks, and drawers.

The keyhole is wider which makes them easier to pick than the pin-tumbler types. They come in two varieties: single-bitted and double-bitted. Knowing the number of wafers and their sizes can give you an edge if you're trying to pick one.

I learned that picking wafer locks isn't too hard with the right tools—a wafer lock pick set does the trick most times. Since these locks aren't looking for top-notch security, they're pretty common in everyday furniture and gadgets that need basic protection.

So next time I'm replacing or picking a lock on a cabinet or desk drawer, I know exactly what I'm dealing with.

Learn About Warded Locks

Warded locks are ancient and distinct in their design. They incorporate thin metal walls called wards that divide the lock chambers. The keys for these locks have slots that allow them to rotate freely, with the ward passing through.

These locks are classic, reflecting a vintage and historical charm.

In addition to being among the oldest types of locks, they are not considered as modern as other options. Warded locks add a sense of nostalgia and tradition to spaces where they are used, making them unique choices for certain settings or aesthetics.

Investigate Disc Detainer Locks

Investigating Disc Detainer Locks, these locks can jam if forced while turning the discs. Brands like Abloy and ABUS commonly feature disc detainer locks. The term "disc tumbler" is also used for this lock type.

With that covered, let's move on to Essential Steps for Picking a Lock.

Essential Steps for Picking a Lock

Prepare the lock for picking with precision and care.

Master the raking technique to successfully pick common tumbler locks.

Prepare the Lock for Picking

To prepare the lock for picking, I carefully examine its condition to ensure it's suitable. Then, I insert a tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole and apply slight pressure in the direction that unlocks it.

This creates tension within the lock, allowing me to grasp and lift each pin or tumbler until they align and unlock. This is crucial as a rusty or damaged lock may resist picking, making it harder.

Mastering these fundamental steps sets us up for success before delving into specific techniques... Let's move on to mastering the raking technique.

Master the Raking Technique

Mastering the raking technique is crucial for successful lock picking. Raking involves using a special tool to swiftly lift and manipulate the pins within the lock, simulating the action of raking leaves.

It's an effective method to quickly open standard tumbler locks, making it a go-to technique for many locksmiths and enthusiasts. The continuous up-and-down movement mimics key insertion, allowing for efficient and speedy lock opening.

By incorporating this technique into your skill set, you enhance your ability to confidently and effectively pick various locks, establishing yourself as a proficient locksmith or lock picking enthusiast.

Pick a Common Tumbler Lock Successfully

Insert a tension wrench into the keyhole.

Apply slight pressure with the tension wrench.

Utilize a lock pick to manipulate the pins for successful unlocking.

Practical Tips and Warnings for Lock Picking

Choose the correct tools for lock picking.

Patience and precision are crucial when picking locks.

Choose the Right Tools for Lock Picking

To pick a lock, I need the right tools. Tension wrenches, picks, and raking tools are essential. Different locks require different picking tools - for instance, pin tumbler locks might need tubular lock picks while bypass tools could be used for padlocks.

It's crucial to have the appropriate picks before attempting lock picking.

Locksmith kits usually contain all the necessary tools like tension wrenches and various types of picks suited for different lock mechanisms. For example, a master key system might call for more specialized locksmith supplies compared to standard deadbolts.

Practice Patience and Precision in Lock Picking

Patience and precision are key in lock picking. It's crucial to take your time and move methodically when manipulating the lock. Rushing can lead to mistakes, prolonging the process.

Calculated movements and a steady hand will yield better results. Remember, patience pays off.

Now onto exploring different types of locks...

Ensure Safety and Legality in Lock Picking

Transitioning from mastering the raking technique to ensuring safety and legality in lock picking is essential. Lock picking legality varies across different regions, so it's important to be aware of the laws concerning possession and use of lock picking tools.

It's crucial to understand that lock picking should only be done within legal boundaries, respecting laws and regulations in place.

Before purchasing any tools or embarking on learning how to pick a lock, it's important for individuals passionate about locksmithing to meticulously research their local laws and regulations regarding possessing these tools.


Picking the best lock requires mastering different techniques, understanding various types of locks and being cautious about safety and legality. Remember to apply torque when picking a lock, choose the right tools, and practice patience to perfect your skills.

With proper research and dedication, anyone can improve their lock security.

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