How to Pick a Cylinder Lock

What You'll Need
Cylinder lock
Tension tool
Bench grinder
Hacksaw blades

Even if it’s a skill you’ll never use, it can be fun and useful to know how to pick a cylinder lock. It’s something you see people doing on television shows and in the movies. Be aware that you should never try to pick a cylinder lock you need to use, such as in your house. Nor should you pick one to access the property of someone else, since this is illegal.

Step 1- Lock

You need to buy a cylinder lock or padlock. Make sure that you purchase one with a cylinder lock. If you’re not sure, ask at the hardware store. It should have a Yale key. To learn to pick a lock, don’t practice on a lock in your door at home, in case you damage the lock. It’s much better to buy something cheap and develop your party trick on that.

Step 2 - Tension Tool

You’ll need two different tools in order to pick a cylinder lock. The first is known as a tension tool. It’s one you can make yourself. It’s not big, as it only needs to reach the pins of the lock. The lock pick, which is the second tool, must be able to get to the pins at the same time.

To make a tension tool, all you need to do is bend some stiff wire to the point where it will fit in the keyhole. It needs to be long enough for you to hold it comfortably between your fingers.

Step 3 - Lock Pick

The other tool you require is a lock pick, and there are several different types, although you don't have to worry about the differences between them. You can make your own. Begin by putting on safety goggles, then start your bench grinder.

You need to grind all the teeth off a hacksaw blade. This is for your own safety later when you use the lock pick. When you’ve done that, grind a shaft that’s about 1 ½ inches long. At the tip, grind out a small diamond shape with all the sides equal. The diamond should be about 1/10 inch long. As to the pick itself, the shaft needs to be about ¼ inch wide, moving on to a broader handle.

Step 4 - Picking the Lock

To begin, you need to insert your tension tool into the lock. You can put it at the top of the lock, which is where the pins of the lock sit. It’s easier, though, to insert it at the bottom of the keyway.

Apply a little pressure on the tension tool. Now insert the pick into the lock. What you need to do is move at least one of the pins to the shearline. This is where the pins sit in the middle of the lock. There are small gap where they meet. Make all the pins line up. When a pin reaches the shearline you’ll feel the movement. When the pins are lined up in the shearline, the lock will open.