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How to Break Into an Old Door Lock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

How to break into an old door lock? It’s easy! Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to open any door lock in no time.

Types of Locks

Breaking into an old door lock can be a difficult task, as there are many different types of locks that may be installed in a door. Some of the most common types of locks include cylinder locks, mortise locks, deadbolts, and rim locks. Each of these types of locks has different levels of security and can be more or less difficult to open when you don’t have the right key. Let’s take a look at each type of lock and its specific features.

Pin and tumbler locks

Pin and tumbler locks are one of the most common types of locks found in homes, offices, and vehicles. The mechanics of this type of lock involve an inner core that is activated when a key containing angled, cutouts called “pins” is inserted. When the correct key is inserted into the lock, the pins move up and down in the positions that match the grooves or slots in the key. This causes a set of spring-loaded pins to move up against a cylindrical plug or cylinder in order to unlock it.

Pin and tumbler locks come in two main varieties: standard pin & tumbler locks and tubular pin & tumbler locks. Standard pin & tumbler locks are common for residential applications like bedroom doors since they provide reliable security without being overly complicated. Tubular versions, on the other hand, are more popular among commercial applications due to their increased resistance to manipulation attempts such as picking or bumping – a popular method of opening locks without a key by lightly hitting it against its housing body.

Regardless of style (standard or tubular), most pin & tumbler locks operate via similar mechanisms when picked or bumped open – by driving a set of pins further up into the housing shell than they would normally travel when unlocked with their designated keys. This makes it possible to then turn the cylinder plug and thus unlock any door while bypassing security features such as keys, safety pins, and dual-locking mechanisms meant to prevent unauthorized access.

Wafer locks

Wafer locks are among the most common types of locks used in doors. They work by having a series of flat, disc-shaped “wafers” arranged in a line that must be aligned between two ends. When these wafers are lined up, the cylinder can rotate freely, allowing the lock to open. Wafer locks are relatively simple to pick and depending on their design, can be vulnerable to bumping.

Common styles of wafer locks include standard wafer locks which are generally found on cabinets and desk drawers; tubular wafer lock cylinders which provide added security by using more than one serrated edge per face; and telescopic wafer locks commonly found in vending machines, video games and pinball machines where they effectively lock each tube inside the other preventing rotation until they are properly aligned.

Lever locks

Lever locks are one of the most common locking mechanisms for older doors. This type of lock uses a key with a cylindrical shaft pattern, but instead of tiny pins, there is a series of levers set inside the lock casing. To open the door, you need to push all these levers up to the same level, although some lever locks have more than one key type.

Each lever has its own number or letter associated with it; in order to open the lock, each numbered or lettered lever needs to be moved exactly 180 degrees from its current position and raised up to meet the specified line at the same level. If all of this is done correctly and all levers are moved past their obstacle points, then the lock should open.

Common types of lever locks include Yale Locks, Chubb Locks and Union Locks. It is important to note that most types of lever locks require professional expertise for installation and repair as well as locked-out service in case you accidentally get your key stuck inside.

Tools and Materials

When trying to break into an old door lock, it is important to have the right tools and materials on hand. The right materials will make the job easier, while the wrong ones will likely damage the lock or reduce the effectiveness of the job. For example, a standard screwdriver may not be able to turn an old door lock, while a flat head screwdriver might have better success. Additionally, you will need a drill and a set of picks or shims. These tools will help you manipulate the inner workings of the lock. Keep reading to find out more!

Lock picking tools

Lock picking is an art form as much as it is a skill and having the right tools can make a huge difference in successful unlocking. Beginner lock pickers should start with a basic set that consists of either plastic or metal tension wrenches, rakes, and torsion wrenches. Depending on the type of lock you’re opening, other specialized tools can be helpful, if not necessary. To ensure success, it is important to lock regularly with a tension wrench which holds the core pins firmly so they don’t move when being manipulated with another tool. When tension is applied to the wrench it will also provide you with slow feedback as to your progress during picking. Rakes are similar to screwdrivers but with different profiles that are specifically designed to bring several pins up at once when passed through the keyhole. Picks are for single pin manipulation where each pin is manipulated one at a time until all pins reach the shear line. A torsion wrench, also known as a torque wrench, provides constant pressure while raking allowing you to use higher levels of torque then typical picks would allow. This allows for faster unlocking speeds which can be beneficial when dealing with older locks that don’t require too much finesse.

Lock bumping tools

Lock bumping is a technique used to forcibly open pin tumbler locks, although it is possible to use the same method to open certain wafer tumbler and disc tumbler locks. The method of lock bumping involves utilizing a specially-cut key, known as a “bump key” and a customizable bumping tool.

Bump keys are created by cutting each of the grooves of the key to the maximum depth while keeping all of them at the same level. To increase chances of success, each groove is cut slightly deeper than in its original form. Each groove should be given an upside-down U shape and should be cut until there remains only 1/1000th inch of material from one side.

The tools most commonly used for lock bumping are tension wrenches, pick guns and lock picks, which serve an essential role when it comes to opening locks without damaging them due to force or brute strength. Tension wrenches apply tension on the outer cylinder after inserting the bump key into its lock’s inner workings. Pick guns serve as an alternative that can deliver higher speed results than manual picking with conventional tensional wrench tools. Lock picks are also often used along diagrams or reference plates in order to utilize their overall size and angled shape for properly engaging pins from inside non-destructively in order to benefit from unlocking the cylinder’s detainer mechanism effectively by trickery rather than by forced access alone.

Lock-picking lubricant

Among the most important tools for opening a stuck door lock is a lock-picking lubricant. This special liquid allows you to insert a key into a tight or stuck lock, as well as move it around in order to free up the locking components inside. It’s very important to use only an appropriate lubricant for locks, and not the same lubricants that might be used on other hardware. Not all locks are created equal, and regular oil or grease may be too thick, cause damage or even leave behind residues that can continue to prevent proper operation of the lock.

Medeco Lock Lube is specifically designed to open and maintain Medeco locks while also providing superior corrosion protection on interior and exterior parts of your door lock mechanism. Additionally, this product has been tested by UL Security Laboratories which has certified its performance in accordance with ASTM F1510-04 standards. It’s recommended that homeowners apply Medeco Lock Lube every time they are replacing their deadbolts in order to keep their locks working properly. Other popular brands of door-lock lubricants are Master Grade Lubrication and Slick Locks.

Lock-picking Techniques

Lock-picking techniques are an invaluable tool for gaining access to a locked door. Knowing a few basic techniques can help you get access to a locked door without damaging it, saving you a lot of time, money, and hassle. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most commonly used tactics for picking a lock, including single pin picking, raking, and bumping.

Lock picking

Lock picking is the manipulation of a lock’s components to open the lock without the original key. Each door lock comprises of a variety of pins, tumblers, and springs that control how it functions. By using specialized lock picking tools, like picks and tension wrenches, a locksmith can change the configuration of those components so that the lock opens without its original key.

There are two main types of lock picking: single pin picking (also referred to as raking or scrubbing) and impressioning. Single pin picking involves inserting and turning a pick in order to raise each individual pin inside a locked door bolt until it reaches an open position. Impressioning is another technique which evaluates how each internal pin reacts under pressure and “impresses” its proper height into wax or clay for future use in re-opening similar locks.

While many people have taken up this skill for recreational purposes, professional locksmiths are able to pick locks quickly and efficiently with years of practice. Knowing basic techniques such as raking keys and impressioning is helpful when unlocking an old door with no original key available.

Lock bumping

Lock bumping is a fast and easy way to open a lock without causing damage. This technique utilizes a special key that can be used to manipulate the pins in the lock such that they will all align and when the key is turned, it opens the lock. Note: Lock bumping can only work on certain types of locks, so it’s important to be sure you have an appropriate lock before trying this technique.

When using this technique, it’s important to use the correct tools for the job, such as a bobby pin or special bump key. The process involves inserting the bobby pin into the old door lock and then introducing tension with one hand while striking downwards on the tip of the bobby pin with another hand. If done correctly, this should result in manipulating all of the pins within the cylinder simultaneously which unlocks it without any visible signs of forced entry. Additionally, although this method can be quite effective if done correctly, there are also some risks associated with using an old door lock which include potential damage or breakage so use caution.

Lock bypassing

One reliable and frequently used method of lock bypassing for an old door lock is known as “bump keying”. This means using a key with a special cut pattern to insert tension into the cylinder to cause pins to bump up and over the shear line, allowing the user access without having to turn the key. The process of bump keying requires that you have a copy of the correct key or keys for a specific lock. You will also likely need a specialized tool called a torque wrench that can provide a steady amount of pressure while turning so that you can manipulate the pins inside, allowing them to bypass the shear line.

Other tried and true methods of lock bypassing on an old door lock include sledgehammering or drilling, though these are more commonly used when fast access is needed, such as in home invasion scenarios. Sledgehammers should only be used if all other avenues have been exhausted as they can permanently damage both your door and frame as well as your lockset. With drilling, it is important to avoid drills with too much power and speed, lest you needlessly damage your lockset beyond repair.

Lock-picking Safety

Lock-picking is a skill that can be used to open a door without having the correct key. However, it is important to take safety precautions when attempting to pick a lock. It is important to know the risks involved in lock-picking and the measures to take in order to stay safe. In this section, we will explore the safety aspects to keep in mind when attempting to pick a lock.

Wear safety glasses

Wearing safety glasses whenever you attempt to manually pick a door lock is a critical safety precaution. In some cases, when the most basic mechanical pick fails, more forceful methods may be used to open the lock. These can include: drilling; inserting small rods into the keyway and tapping them with a hammer, scraper or chisel to force back tumblers; or using strong manipulation techniques that can potentially cause parts of the locking mechanism to break away. In any of these scenarios, it is essential to wear protective eyewear to guard against debris and other flying objects that could possibly cause injury. Additionally, if you are using power tools such as drills or abrasive wheels, always use goggles or full-face masks for further protection from high speed particles and shavings as well as any hazardous gases produced by grinding away parts of the lock components. Also be sure to take proper safety measures by wearing gloves at all times during your lock-picking endeavors.

Wear gloves

It’s important to wear gloves when lock-picking as it is possible for skin oils and other contaminants to damage the inner workings of a lock, making it more difficult to pick. Additionally, wearing gloves can help keep your hands from becoming cut or scratched from the sharp edges of tools used in picking. Some hardened steel tools are particularly unforgiving, so if you find yourself using them often, consider investing in a pair of sturdy gloves for added protection. Make sure that you have also taken off any rings or jewelry that might snag on the tumblers of a lock as you work.

Avoid damaging the lock

One of the most important things to keep in mind when attempting to pick a lock is to avoid damaging it. This is especially true if you’re trying to pick an old door lock as there is a greater chance of causing permanent damage that could render the whole lock useless.

To ensure you don’t damage the lock, avoid using excessive force and beware of snapping internal parts. Use just enough force to move the pins or break certain barriers inside the mechanism but not too much pressure as this could cause fissures or cracks that cannot be undone. We also recommend performing this task under optimal lighting and employ tools specifically designed for lock-picking such as tension wrenches, pick tools (hooks, rakes, diamond-shaped picks) or specially designed bypassing tools.

When attempting to break into an old door lock, it can be helpful to practice on your own locks at home before attempting a job on a more complex system. With practice and patience should come success – but in any situation, make sure you do not accidentally damage someone else’s property!


After reviewing all the various methods, it is important to conclude which of them are the most successful and secure. In most cases, it is best to call a professional who can figure out which type of lock you have and how to open it without causing any damage. Using a pick set or a bump key should only be attempted if you have experience with these tools or are working with someone who does. Otherwise, your best bet is to call a locksmith.


In conclusion, learning how to break into an old door lock may seem intimidating at first but by following some simple steps, you can do it yourself. Start by using a tension wrench and inserting it into the hole of the lock. Turn it gently and at the same time use a pick to try to open the lock. Once you get to the point where you can turn the plug with your wrench, apply some pressure and insert your last pick into the keyway until it is all the way in. Finally, increase pressure with your tension wrench and this should open your door!

Overall, no matter what type of old door lock you are dealing with, these steps should help you gain access quickly and safely. Remember to always take extra precautions when picking locks on public property or buildings as there may be legal implications including fines or jail time if caught in possession of burglar’s tools without permission. With that in mind, breaking into an old door lock is possible but must be done proper care or else it may not work!

Additional Resources

Now that you understand some of the basic techniques for turning the lock on an old door lock, it’s important to make sure you continue to acquire more knowledge and gather tools to help you in future lockouts. Below are some additional resources you can use to further your learning on the topic.

-Books: There are many resources available online and in bookstores with extra information on how to turn the lock, such as The Complete Book of Lock Picking by Eddie The Ultimate Lover or Thief: A Guide to Lockpicking by Keith Gudger.
-Videos: YouTube is a great resource for information on locksmithing. You can find plenty of videos with tips and instructions on how to turn the lock.
-Podcasts: Podcasts like Pop & Lock are filled with helpful advice when it comes to lock picking and discovering the tricks behind getting around an old door lock.
-Websites: Many websites offer detailed tutorials and reviews from experienced professionals when it comes to dealing with stubborn locks – websites like SecurityBarcelona are bursting with helpful tips on turning the lock.

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