Skip to content

How to Jimmy a 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 jimmy a door lock is a skill that everyone should know. Whether you’re a homeowner, renter, or just looking to be prepared, learning how to jimmy a door lock is a great way to ensure that you can always get into your home.

Gather Your Supplies

Learning how to jimmy a door lock requires you to have the proper supplies on hand. You’ll need to acquire some basic tools such as a flathead screwdriver, a tension wrench, and a thin piece of metal. You may also need a few other items depending on the type of lock you are trying to open. Once you have everything you need, you’re ready to begin.

Gather a jimmy tool

If you are about to embark on attempting to jimmy a door yourself, you will first want to assemble the tools necessary for the job. You’ll want to find or make the ideal jimmy tool (sometimes referred to as a rake), which can range from a bent coat hanger all the way up to a sophisticated precision tool. Generally speaking, it should be shallow enough that it can slide easily around the pins of the lock but wide enough that it can lift them all at once. Additionally, it will need at least one hooked end and one flat end – this way you can apply both tension and pressure in an attempt to manipulate the pins into place.

Once your jimmy tool is ready, you’ll need some other items: picks (for tension wrenches) and pliers (if you are attempting to pick an already-locked door). You will also likely want some lubricating oil or graphite – just in case there is rust within the lock cylinder. Before beginning any attempt at jimmying, be sure that all your tools are in proper working order and fit comfortably in your hands.

Gather a tension wrench

It is important to have the right tools before you begin attempting to jimmy a door lock. First, you will need a tension wrench. A tension wrench looks like a thin metal rod with a knob or handle on one end. The end that gets inserted into the lock should be thin and small enough to fit inside the keyhole. The type of tension wrench that is best depends on the make and model of the lock that you will be manipulating – it’s best to check beforehand or purchase several different sizes if possible. If your tension wrench is too wide, it may not be able to fit between pins in certain locks and it can also cause damage to them. Once your tension wrench is selected, proceed with gathering your supplies for the job.

Insert the Tension Wrench

The first step to jimmy a door lock is to insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole. The tension wrench should fit snugly into the keyhole, so be sure to check that it is inserted properly. Once the tension wrench is secure, you can begin to turn it clockwise in order to apply tension. You will need to apply a steady pressure while you apply the appropriate tools to unlock the door.

Insert the tension wrench into the keyhole

Once the lock picking tools are gathered, the first step in lock picking is to insert the tension wrench into the keyhole. Depending on where your tension wrench fits best, it can be inserted from either side of the door. Make sure to inserted far enough so that the smooth shaft ends up inside of the lock and so that only a very slight amount of movement is allowed at all times.

The size of your tension wrench will depend on how your particular lock functions and whether you’re doing single or double sided pin tumblers. To ensure maximum maneuverability and minimal strain, use a tool long enough to reach deep into both sides of double-sided locks and one that fits tightly against single-sided locks without being overstretched. Always remember to take care when inserting tools as loose pieces can affect accuracy and cause unintended damage inside of locks.

Turn the tension wrench clockwise

The next step in jimmying a door lock is inserting the tension wrench into the keyhole. The tension wrench should fit snugly into the keyhole and provide adequate grip. Once the tension wrench is correctly inserted into the keyhole, turn it clockwise to provide tension against the internal locking mechanism of the lock. It takes some practice to properly apply consistent pressure on both sides of the door lock using this technique. Push lightly with your tool of choice and turn the tension wrench gently in a clockwise direction at a ninety-degree angle to apply varying torque pressure on each side of its structure.

Insert the Jimmy Tool

Jimmy tools are essential items you should have in your toolbox when trying to open a door lock without a key. Generally, a jimmy tool consists of a thin piece of metal that is inserted into a lock and then maneuvered in order to dislodge the latch and open the door. To use a jimmy tool, you need to first insert it into the lock and carefully push it in.

Insert the jimmy tool into the keyhole

In order to successfully jimmy a door lock, the first step is to insert the jimmy tool into the keyhole. Make sure the jimmy tool is inserted roughly halfway into the keyhole before attempting any further manipulating. Once you have inserted the jimmy tool, take a moment to ensure that it is in place and that you can access and move it freely within the lock mechanism.

Once you have successfully inserted your jimmy tool, use pressure to push up against whichever component of the locking mechanism needs to be manipulated and released from its current position in order for you to gain access. Depending on the type of lock being jimmied, this component could be a pin stack or tumbler bar. As you gently apply pressure with your jimmy tool, keep an eye on how it moves within its housing and adjust your technique as needed until you’re able to release whichever component has been blocking your entry. This will result in a successful unlocking of the door.

Push the jimmy tool in and out while turning it

Once you’ve approved the position of the jimmy tool, the next step is to introduce a little pressure. Push the tool in and out while slowly turning it – this will help apply consistent pressure and gradually open the lock. Be sure that you don’t put too much pressure on the tool or it could slip or break. Continue doing this until you feel a soft click or a slight give in the lock mechanism. This indicates that you have managed to manipulate the tumbler pins so that they can move freely, allowing your jimmy tool to slide around them and unlock them from within.

Adjust the Wrench

Jimmying a door lock is a simple and effective way to gain access to a secured space without a key. To jimmy a door lock, you will need to adjust the wrench and insert it into the keyhole. This will allow you to manipulate the lock in order to open the door. You’ll need to have a firm grip on the wrench and some patience in order to get the process right. With the right steps and the right tools, jimmying a door lock can be a quick process.

Adjust the tension wrench to the right tension

Once the tension wrench is inserted into the keyway of a lock, it needs to be adjusted to the right amount of tension. Too much torque and you’ll simply spin the cylinder, too little and you won’t be able to move the pins, both of which defeat your goal of making a lockpick.

The correct amount of tension varies from one lock to another sometime even between pin sizes within a single lock. For most locks, however, you should start out with just enough force that you can feel resistance and increase or decrease it as needed until the driver pin sets correctly and begins lifting pins within the lock.

Sometimes a few tiny adjustments are all that’s necessary; if you cannot set any driver pins after a few minor tweaks then either too much or too little tension is being applied. Additionally, if you’re having trouble with one pin in particular then increasing or decreasing tension may help depending on your progress thus far.

Adjusting tension correctly can be tricky but practice makes perfect! Take time each time you open a new type of lock to really get used to applying very small tweaks until the driver pin sets correctly in order to work on that “second nature” feeling when dealing with different types of locks – this will pay off dramatically in future picking sessions!

Turn the jimmy tool while adjusting the tension wrench

Adjusting the tension wrench is a vital part of jimmying a door lock. It keeps the door lock in place by creating an even tension on the pins inside the door. It also provides a turning point for the jimmy tool when the pins are pushed down. To adjust your tension wrench, you will need either a flat-head screwdriver or an adjustable pliers depending on what type of tension wrench you have (there are several types on the market).

If you have an adjustable pliers style wrench, use it as you would any other pliers to grip and turn it open until it has a tight grip on both sides of the keyhole. Take care not to over-tighten, as this can cause damage to both your tools and your lock.

The flat-head screwdriver style is more versatile than its plier counterpart but requires greater skill and more patience for proper adjustment. Insert the head into one end of the slot at 90 degrees and slide it along until you feel some resistance. If necessary, use a wooden block or something similar to tap gently tap on one side while maintaining pressure with the screwdriver on the other in order to adjust it further – don’t force too hard! Make sure that you can rotate either side with equal pressure before attempting any jimmying work.

Open the Lock

Jimmying a door lock is a technique used to open a locked door without a key. While this method often relies on physical force, it can be used to open a wide range of locks without damaging the lock itself. This article will explain the steps needed to effectively jimmy a door lock, from the tools that are needed to properly execute the technique.

Continue to turn the jimmy tool and tension wrench until the lock opens

Once you have successfully inserted the jimmy tool and tension wrench, it’s time to use them to open the lock. Using a steady pressure on the tension wrench in the direction needed to open the lock (usually clockwise), begin turning it while simultaneously pushing or pulling on the jimmy tool. You may need to wiggle and adjust both tools until you find the right combination and feel a slight give when the tumbler starts moving into place. Most locks will open with a light click when this happens, so continue to turn both tools in unison until they are both rotated past that point.

It is important not to push too hard when turning your tools, as this can cause damage to either or both of them. As you turn your tools, occasionally pause for a moment to make sure that everything remains secure and that no parts are slipping out of place – if any parts start slipping out of place, simply reverse direction slightly and reposition your tool before continuing forward. Once you have fully turned your tools past the sweet spot, you should be able to open the lock by gently turning your door knob – from there, replace all locks immediately!

Remove the jimmy tool and tension wrench

Once the pins in the lock have been aligned and the lever lifted, use your jimmy tool to press down on the bottom pins so that they can be removed from their chamber in the door lock. Once removed, you should be able to hear all but one of the pins release and look through your pick gun. Check to confirm that all of them are pushed out of their set channels.

Next, gently remove the tension wrench by turning it counterclockwise until it is exposed slightly and can be pulled out of the hole. When it has been completely freed and taken out of the keyhole, you have completed jimmying a door lock!
The method used to work a standard pin tumbler door lock is simple but requires patience and practice before it becomes second nature. Always remember safety when attempting this technique and never tamper with locks that do not belong to you as this could result in criminal charges or worse!

How to Jimmy a Door LockCheckout this video:

Share this Article