Pick Locks Like In The Movies: Using A Bobby Pin

Sure, many of us don’t hold our hair in place with bobby pins, but just in case we need to break into a secure location, like the broom closet we locked ourselves out of, it wouldn’t hurt to know how to use them to pick a lock.

There are worse things you can make a lockpick set out of. After you’ve secured two bobby pins, one for the tension wrench and one for a small hook pick. To make the small hook simply flatten the pick and remove the rubber cap from the side without waves; this is the small hook. To make the tension wrench, bend the second pin in half. Simple.

The guide also functions as a very good beginner tutorial on lock-picking, covering the types of simple locks one is likely to encounter, and the various shortcomings of their construction that could impede efforts to open them. The whole site is a good resource for those who enjoy the art.

After that it is standard lock picking. Put torsion on the barrel and prod those pins into place with your reconfigured fashion accessories.

44 thoughts on “Pick Locks Like In The Movies: Using A Bobby Pin

      1. Small screwdriver for tension, dental pick for, uh, pick. When my neighbor left and asked me to feed her cats but deadbolted her door (I only had latch key) I had to resort to such methods. Cats were meowing their support as I “broke in” to her apartment.

        It is a basic skill that any “hacker” should have experience with. Whether you are “saving” starving cats or even something more important.

    1. This depends on the lock. I encountered a lock on a beach bungalow which opened with any key a had available – padlock key, own padlocks key, two different scooter keys and of course the original one. I am sure it would have opened with a screwdriver too :-) and was very happy to have my padlock with me.

  1. Nice graphic. Nice “To Catch a Thief” style :-)

    Really though, you can “rake” that type of lock in general. Meaning you run the probe in and out rapidly with a slight torque on the lock – rubbing or raking the pins. Same result and how those little electric vibrating or spinning tools work. With a little practice anyone can learn to rake a common Master padlock in under 20 seconds. This leaves one torn between needing a secure lock and being able to get in if you loose the keys!

    1. This is raking. Technically, raking is the act of randomly pressing up on tumbler pins while applying (and feeling for) a subtle change in tension. If you happen get it unlocked, and turn it the wrong way, the easiest solution is to use a “plug spinner”, rather than re-lock and try again.

      1. In re-keying locks or setting up a master key and sub keys system, you use a key blank. Is that the same as a plug spinner? Also use a plastic insert to replace the cylinder but that is used to push the cylinder out without the pins moving and done from the “inside”.

        1. A plug spinner looks like a narrow blade (that will fit in the lock) with a spiral spring wound around it. You tension the spring, push the blade into the tumbler plug, and let go of the blade while holding the spring. The resulting rotation of the blade spins the plug.
          You could probably make one from a key blank if you grind off all the material that would normally touch the key pins, but then you need a different blank profile for every tumbler you come across.

    1. It provides lateral/circular/sideways pressure on the pins. By turning the cylinder slightly, it allows the upper, blue pins to catch, while still letting the red pins move somewhat freely. When the blue pins all match up at the line of the cylinder, the cylinder can turn all the way.

  2. Ive always used a wide bobby pin as a tension wrench and the wobbly side of a mid size bobby pin (small flat not round wire) as a rake. Ive had one of each in my wallet since I was 16. Ive never had a need to bend a single pin lift like the demo shows. While more precise….standard door locks do just fine with a quick raking.

  3. In the US nearly all locks are this easy rakeable type, go elsewhere and I had to look for pin and tumbler padlocks for my kids to learn some lock pick tricks. DIsc tumbler locks are pretty normal now for padlocks and homes and businesses tend to have dimple key locks, sometimes with weird active moving bits and magnets which are pickable bit it takes serious patience and sometimes a helper tool, I have heard that there is a foil impressioning method though.

  4. Good luck doing that to my door. Not only do you have to do the lock picking you also need to bump the door for the lock to even turn at all. I really should give maintenance a call…

  5. Try picking a Kwikset SmartKey lock. They are locks which can be set to use any key that will fit in, as long as you have the key the lock is already set to use and the small tool to change it.

    I looked them up on lock picking sites when they first came out. One guy said he managed to pick one, once. It took him 30 minutes and he was never able to do it again.

    Later someone else demonstrated that with a screwdriver and a wrench it was possible to force a SmartKey lock. He claimed it was ‘picking’ it but no, picking doesn’t destroy the lock. You can force just about any flat key lock with a screwdriver by twisting until the pins or discs or other parts of the lock break and allow the shaft to rotate and open the catch.

    The latest SmartKey locks are stronger and supposedly even more difficult to pick.

    If all else fails, solid lead slugs in a 12 gauge shotgun. ;)

  6. For really pretty picks you can use the stainless stiffener strips from a windsheild wiper blade though urban geeks will find street sweeper bristles pretty easily too. With the stianless stiffeners be careful as some will crack when bent too sharply, also don’t burn the stainless trying to heat treat them for bending, that is only for the carbon steel street sweeper bristles.
    I end up with tough or blistered fingers but these are both perfect for a 1/2 diamond and bogota rake set where the handles double as tension wrenches. Throw in a bit of diamond wire, a length of kevlar cord, a razor blade or saw blade, maybe a cuff key and you are ready inside a tic-tac container for any peril you might face in your fantasy world

  7. Awesome link juice for a SEO blog filled with affiliate links and one! external link to a very happy business. The information can be found everywhere with a simple google. Why not use a more legitimate source than this obvious shizzle?

  8. If I’m locked out and want in I could try picking a lock.

    But I think it’s far easier to either:
    1) use a power drill with a carbide bit (drill out the lock and/or tumbler)
    2) -or- a half inch diameter screwdriver and hammer (bash the lock till it breaks)

    And it is a rather trivial process to replace the lock.

    1. 1) Won’t work if it has hardened antidrill inserts as many have. Unless it’s an US or cheapo chinese crappy lock, don’t even bother to try.
      2) Not so easy as you think with locks of reasonable size and quality. And good luck not ruining the locked thing.

  9. An Oral-B Humming Bird Power Flossing Tool, $6.00 @ Walmart,
    very compact, will easy conceal in your hand,
    or substitute an electric toothbrush,
    along with a package of large size Bobby Pins,
    (only 2 hairpins out of the package are required)
    one for the rake, the other for the torque wrench.

    Most any lock will open in under 5 seconds!!!!

    Oral-B Humming Bird Power Flossing Tool (image)

    homemade hummingbird electric lock pick (demonstration)

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