The vast majority of locks are tumbler locks. The notches on your key match up with spring-loaded
pins of different lengths inside the lock’s mechanism. When you insert the right key into a lock, the
pins will be set to the correct height to allow the lock to rotate and release the door.
HOW TO PICK A LOCK Photo Gallery
When you pick a lock, you’re replicating the action of your key. You can buy a set of lock pick tools, or have a go with a couple of strong paper clips.
1 Unravel the end of one paper clip and bend to form a 90-degree angle.
2 Stretch out the other paper clip to form a straight line.
3 Insert the hooked end of the first paper clip into the bottom of the lock. Press downwards and pull it in the direction that the lock turns. It’s imperative to keep this clip in place with the downward pressure on it during the whole procedure.
4 Push the straightened paper clip into the lock, all the way to the back.
5 Lift the straightened clip inside the lock and use a raking motion to scrape along the inside top of the lock as you pull it towards you. Success means you’ll hear the pins clicking and the clip with the hook will turn easily to open the lock. Keep trying until it works.
NOTE: The advice on this page is only to be used if you have locked yourself out – not for breaking and entering!