If you want to pick the most common type of lock -- on your own property, of course -- your objective is to:
In <bold><a href='http://home.howstuffworks.com/lock-picking.htm'>lock picking</a></bold>, tools take the place of a key. When you put a key into a lock, it lifts a set of pins to just the right height so you can turn the key and open the door.
The two main tools used in picking a lock are:
The process of picking a pin-and-tumbler lock is deceptively simple. Just lift each pin while keeping pressure on the lock with the tension wrench. With just the right touch, you'll lift each pin out of the way. Do it wrong, and springs will push the pins right back to where they started.
While a lock is being picked, the cylinder, or plug:
During lock picking, the tension wrench shifts the cylinder, which creates a very small ledge. Each pin rests on the ledge until they're all out of the way and the lock opens.
The point at which the pins in a lock line up perfectly, allowing the lock to open is the:
Inside a pin-and-tumbler lock are small pins of different lengths. In the wrong positions, they physically prevent the cylinder from turning. When lifted to the shear line, they let the cylinder turn easily.
If you're not patient enough to pick a lock, you can pull a wide-tipped pick out of the lock while turning the tension wrench. This is called:
Raking isn't as precise or as accurate as picking a lock. Its objective is to make pins bounce out of the way long enough to turn the cylinder.
Why is it often easier to pick wafer-tumbler locks than pin-tumbler locks?
Wafer-tumbler locks use the same basic principle as pin-and-tumbler locks, but they use wafer-shaped tumblers instead of pins.
Tubular locks are the most secure type of key-opening lock because:
In addition to having pins all the way around the outside of the lock, some tubular locks have specially shaped pins. These pins make the lock more difficult to pick.
You can make a lock fit an existing key by:
As long as the lock is designed with a universal keying system, a locksmith can easily reset its pins to open with a different key.
How does a pick gun open a lock?
Using a pick gun is a lot like raking a lock. The picks in the gun vibrate, moving the pins out of the way.
Most burglars don’t gain entry to homes by picking locks because:
You can buy the most impressive, most expensive tubular lock on the market or even use a fancy computerized lock ... but a burglar may just break a window and come on in.
If you find yourself locked out of your house, you might be tempted to learn your way around a lock pick. But while the theory is easy, getting a lock to open without a key is a little harder.
About HowStuffWorks Play
How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!
Get smarter every day! Subscribe & get 1 quiz every week.
Playing quizzes is free! We send trivia questions and personality tests every week to your inbox. By
clicking "Sign Up" you are agreeing to our
years old or over.