How to pick locks and break padlocks

The art of picking locks may seem like a skill more suited for an action-movie hero than the average person. However, with perseverance, an understanding of locks, and the right tools, anyone can become a successful lock picker.

Although most advanced and higher-end locks require legitimate picking tools to be broken, improvised lock picks can be used to crack low-end or improvised locking systems. To create these lock picks, according to “100 Deadly Skills,” all it takes is two paper clips, a hard surface, and a pair of pliers. 

To create these lock picks all a person has to do is bend the clips in the correct way to imitate professional rake and torsion tools.

BI Graphics_How to make lock picks and pick locks 1Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Picking locks requires a combination of dexterity, practice, patience, and an understanding of locking mechanisms, “100 Deadly Skills” notes. The first step to successfully picking a lock is understanding how it functions. 

BI Graphics_How to make lock picks and pick locks 2Samantha Lee/Business Insider

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A five-pin tumbler lock, as seen above, is the most common type of lock in use today. The pins do not need to be forced upward in any specific order. Ultimately, as long as each pin is forced upward and held in that position through the use of rotational pressure, the lock will be broken. 

Defeating a padlock requires a different set of tools than a normal lock, “100 Deadly Skills” notes. Despite the seeming robustness of padlocks, their design leaves them open to an extremely easy defeat. 

All that is required to break a padlock is an aluminum can and hand shears.

BI Graphics_How to make lock picks and pick locks 3Samantha Lee/Business Insider

The double shims shown above are only necessary for a double-lock padlock. Single lock padlocks only require a single shim on the side that locks. 

Now you know how to pick locks and break padlocks — only ones you own, of course.

Jeremy Bender contributed to an earlier version of this post.

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