Hacked Electric Toothbrush Defeats Locks With Ease

The movie version of lockpicking tends to emphasize the meticulous, delicate image of the craft. The hero or villain takes out a slim wallet of fine tools, applies them with skill and precision, and quickly defeats the lock. They make it look easy, and while the image isn’t far from reality, there are other ways to pick a lock.

This expedient electric toothbrush lockpick is a surprisingly effective example of the more brute force approach to lockpicking. As [Jolly Peanut] explains, pin tumbler locks work by lining up each pin with the shear line of the cylinder, which allows the lock to turn. This can be accomplished a pin at a time with picks, or en masse by vibrating the pins until they randomly line up with the shear line just long enough for the lock to turn. A locksmith might use a purpose-built tool for the job, but a simple battery-powered electric toothbrush works in a pinch too. [Jolly Peanut] removed the usual business end of the brush to reveal a metal drive rod that vibrates at a high frequency. The rod was slimmed down by a little grinding to fit into the keyway of a lock, and with the application of a little torque, the vibration is enough to pop the pins into the right position. He tries it out on several locks in the video below, and it only takes a few seconds each time.

Such brute force methods have their drawbacks, of course. They’re not exactly subtle, and the noise they create may attract unwanted attention. In that case, hone your manual lockpicking skills with a giant 3D-printed see-through lock.

Thanks for the tip, [Net Imp].

37 thoughts on “Hacked Electric Toothbrush Defeats Locks With Ease

      1. I guffawed at exactly that point also.
        I originally learned on my college dorm room door, which was 6 pins, and at the time I could do it in under a minute with a decent paper clip.
        Also, a trimmer is a much better starting point if you can find the right one. :)

      2. Look at the video. The key clearly has five cuts, and the lock is indeed a five pin lock. The advertising text is somewhat unclear, but it’s actually stating that three of the five pins are “security pins”, such as spool or mushroom pins. These pins can thwart lock picking efforts by getting hung-up on the shear line, preventing the barrel from rotating again until all tension is released, the holes are lined up, and the security pins are able to drop down again.

        http://www.lockwiki.com/index.php/Security_pin

    1. This is my house
      And I live in it
      It’s made of cracks and photographs
      We rent it off a guy who bought it from a guy
      Who bought it from a guy
      Whose granddad left it to him
      And the weirdest thing is that this house
      Has locks to keep the baddies out
      But they’re mostly used to lock ourselves in

      -Tim Minchin

  1. Having played with both real picks and rakes especially the Bogota style filed from a Bosh wiper blade stiffener(best free workable stainless steel perfectly sized for the purpose) a bogota will also open many American style locks but are much sneakier.
    I have never tried a lock gun like this but suspect similar ease with similar locks, I would not expect much success with serrated or hourglass pins but who knows.
    Very creative, lock tools are like lightsabres a true master makes their own tools.

  2. This is nice to see but it’s old technology, just a pickgun, available on Amazon. Whenever I see “lockpicking” on TV I wait to see if it’s real two-handed picking or imaginary one-handed picking.

    1. My favorite tv lock picking episode was when the two partner cops went to either side of the car with their lock picks, and both started working on it…
      The cop on the passenger side got in first… earlier in the episode they had made a point to say the make and model of the car (for an APB maybe?) it was a 2004 VW jetta, laser cut keys and no keyhole on the passenger door.

      Truly being able to pick a lock with no keyhole, and laser cut keys, very impressive.

      1. There usually is a keyhole, but it’s hidden under a panel or plug because the driver side lock typically gets frozen, wears out, or somebody tries to force it open and breaks it, or you snap your key in it, and then you have to use the other door to get in.

        1. True, but RF ID keys are pretty common these days. I can’t start my car with a copy, or a pick.

          And hoods don’t bother picking a lock to get into a car (or house for that matter). They just break the glass.

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