How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Everyone has seen how picking locks works on tv shows, so you know you want to learn how to pick a lock with a paperclip. Lockpicking with paperclips actually isn’t that hard to do, if you have a sturdy paperclip, a hammer and a tension wrench.

Picking Locks With Paperclips

So put on your black toboggan and your ninja blacks and let’s see how to pick locks with paperclips. Here are some instructions for picking locks with paperclips.

Prepare the Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Take a larger, thicker paperclip and straighten out the outer ring of the clip. This should give you a long, straight piece of metal to manipulate the inner workings of a keyhole with.

Hammer the Paperclip

Next, set the paper clip on a flat, hard surface that you can hammer on. Surfaces that work are concrete floors, anvils and workshop tables. Don’t hammer on a glass living room table, a kitchen table or a counter top.

What you’re wanting to do is to hammer out the paper clip, until it’s flat. This is an important step that many people who try this forget to do.

Using the Tension Wrench

Despite its name “tension wrench” or torque wrench,. This tool provides torsion, not tension, to the inner workings of a lock, so it can also be called a “torsion wrench”. This lock-picking tool has an l-shape to it, and this holds picked pins of the inner cylinder in place, allowing you to shift other pins with the paperclip.

Place the tension wrench in the key hole, placing the paper clip in the key hole above the wrench. You’ll want to apply gentle pressure to the cylinder with the tension wrench, turning the wrench ever so slightly as you do.

Pin and Tumbler Locks

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Most locks you’ll encounter are pin-and-tumbler locks, which have a cylinder that rotates around, but is held in place by several pins. As you first use the torque wrench, you want to test to see which way the lock works. When you turn the torque wrench, if the stop is solid and firm, then that’s the wrong way. Simply test the other way and, by process of elimination, you can pick the lock.

Working the Paperclip

Meanwhile, use the paper clip to manipulate the lock, while working the tension wrench. You want to move the paper clip in and out of the lock, while using the tension wrench to push up on the lock pins.

Find the Firm Pin

Keep testing the pins, trying to figure out which one is firmest. When you find the firm pin, you’ll need to push on it as hard as needed, to make get the pin to unlock. When this happens, you’ll hear a short clicking sound. This is a good sound, because it means the pin has set and is no longer in the cylinder.

Continue doing this until all pins have clicked and you’re almost there. Now, turn the tension wrench in the cylinder, which should unlock the lock. If your calculations were wrong earlier and you turn the wrench in the cylinder the wrong way, the pins will reset and you have to start all over again.

Paperclips as Lock Picking Tools

In some cases, if you don’t have a torque wrench or tension wrench, you can use a second paperclip to pick a lock. With the second paperclip, straighten it out, then bend the end in a 90-degree angle, which should make the l-shape. If that doesn’t work, try a small screwdriver.

As you can see, while it might be easier to use a paperclip and torque wrench, you can learn how to pick a lock with a paperclip or two. You know, just like they do in Hollywood.

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