The art of lockpicking
How to open a lock without a key ? We will discuss about how to pick your locks.
It is composed of 2 steps which, combined with each other, allow the fine opening of many systems.
On this diagram we notice the body of the padlock called “stator” because it remains static and dissociated from its “rotor” whose rotational movement allows the opening.
In this sectional view we see the “active” pins overlooking the “passive” pins. The passive ones being all across the “break line” the opening is impossible.
When the key is inserted into the “eve“, the pins are placed at the right height called “shear line“. It allows the rotation of the rotor and therefore the opening.
All the pins are pushed up their respective wells by their springs.
We see at the bottom of the wells the “well plugs” whose alignment is not perfect. This alignment will interest us in the first place.
Note here that the shear line is at the level of the passive pins.
The following step is to align the space between the active pins and the passive pins along the shear line. But first let’s go back to the alignment…
First step : find out the order of placement
How to open a lock without a key? The first step is to find out the order of placement. This order varies from one toy to another and differs only by a few tenths of a millimeter. Fortunately, even if it is not visible to the eye it is enough to exploit it. The exploitation of these differences in alignment make it possible to find in which order to place the pins.
When a tension is applied using a “tensor” on the rotor, it stumbles against the pins not aligned at the shear line. It therefore prevents its rotation.
By applying a light tension, only one of the pins rubs with the rotor. This is due to the imperfection of the alignment of the wells. On the diagram we see that the shaft closest to the eve is the first to touch with the rotor.
Be careful not to press too hard to prevent all the pins from blocking at the same time. As a result, this would prevent deducing the placement order.
Here the first pin is blocked because its passive one is wedged between the rotor and the stator. We realize it by touching it with a “probe”, it is therefore braked during its descent.
So we just found the first pin to place!
If one had tried to place one of the other pins first, it simply would not have held in place because nothing would have slowed down the force applied by its spring which would have caused it to rise incessantly.
For a pin to be placed, the rotor must move over the extension of its shaft so that its covering is sufficient to prevent it from rising again.
Now that we have understood the principle of the order of placement, let’s worry about its height.
Last step : find the placement height
How to open a lock without a key? The last step is to find the placement height. To find the right placement height, simply press this famous first pin until you feel a jump in the tensor. Accompany the rotation of the rotor of one or two degrees. Then the space between passive and active will be reached.
On this diagram, we see that the first pin is placed, since the space between the active and the passive is positioned at the shear line.
The feeling of the good placement of the pins is mainly at the tensor.
On many toys, the gap in the alignment of the wells is large enough for the rotation of the tensor to be visible when accompanying the rotation, in addition to the feeling of the rotation.
Now that we’ve placed the first pin, it’s a matter of figuring out what the next one will be!
And yes, because the order is never linear, the gaps between the wells are not voluntary on the part of the manufacturers. A big part of the game is to find it.
It is simply necessary to renew the first step on the other pins without releasing the tension that makes it possible to hold the first we have just placed.
This game of skill is the art of lockpicking!
How to open a lock without a key if this is another type of lock?
Of course each toy has its characteristics. Here we only have a padlock with 4 standard pins and a fairly straight eve. We suggest you to accustom to it before having fun on more complex models. Otherwise you will not enjoy the playful side of this hobby.
Other toys will be more sensitive to other picking techniques. Because there are multiple of them, as well as specific tools to these techniques. Here we can see the use of a “scraper”. It greatly accelerates the picking by multiplying the heights without taking into account the order of placement:
Many toys have anti-pick pins and much more tortuous eves that make the practice much more difficult. Some are real challenges that will require years of training before you pretend to be able to rub it!
Also, to assimilate the mechanisms that will allow you to improve, we recommend these readings. They are a little more detailed than this article. Read the MIT guide, then practice lockpicking. You will need some tools which this article tells you what are the characteristics to remember: better know the tools.
Be aware that most padlocks have the particularity of having a “return spring”. This is not the case on lock barrels. This spring reminder will not necessarily make things easier for you but you can tame it to such an extent that it can help you …
On low-end padlocks that allow you to start, this reminder spring is surely not a handicap because you do not need great dexterity and it is only by having fun with better fitting toys that it will hinder you in your perception.
Another characteristic of padlocks is that they open in the vast majority of cases clockwise only. That is, the rotor can only be rotated in this direction to open it.
This is not to our advantage either because it prevents us from enjoying a little trick valid on the cylinders …
This simple technique makes it possible to find the last pin to place.
It is enough to first drive in one direction, for example clockwise, so as to find which is the first pin to place; This pin will become the one to be placed last counterclockwise.
Thus, by changing the direction of training to crochet counterclockwise we already know the last pin to place and this, even before we have started to crochet!
Picking tips, there are many others, it is also on the padlocks that you will find the most bypass method and for good reason it is in these that we find the most diversity in the mechanisms: padlocks with fixed and / movable trims, pins, discs, codes, electronics …
That’s why we advise you to start the fine opening with padlocks. They are easy to buy, can be reused wisely if you do not make fine opening your passion and the multiple systems that compose them even allow you to play without tools thanks to the code padlocks of which we find, again, a wide variety:
And in this video you will see that there is nothing complicated. Just be methodical and use the right tools.
Now it’s up to you!