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How to Pick a Door Lock with a Bobby Pin

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 Pick a Door Lock with a Bobby Pin – It’s really easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Plus, it’s a great skill to have!


Picking a door lock can seem intimidating at first, but it is actually a fairly simple task with some basic tools and knowledge. Before you attempt to pick a door lock with a bobby pin, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. Gathering the right supplies is the first step to ensuring you have the best chance of successfully opening the lock. In this section, we will discuss the supplies you need and other general preparation steps.

Gather necessary materials

Before you attempt to pick a door lock with a bobby pin, ensure you have the necessary materials to complete the task. You will need one bobby pin, two paper clips, and a small flat head screwdriver or similar metal tool that is able to fit into the lock mechanism. Be sure you have a metal file clipped securely onto each of the bobby pins, with one side of each paper clip bent so the thin end can be used as the tension wrench and inserted into the bottom of the keyhole. Additionally, make sure to wear eye protection while working with metal objects. Once you have all of these items together, your next step is to prepare the bobby pins for use.

Familiarize yourself with the lock

Before you attempt to pick a door lock with a bobby pin, it is important that you familiarize yourself with exactly how it works. A common type of lock uses a lever-action spring and tumbler system that can be manipulated with only a few pins. This type of lock has a hook to facilitate the sliding action of the pins when the locking mechanism is in place; however, when locked, this hook prevents the pins from moving freely. In order to open this kind of door lock, you must determine which pin needs to be manipulated and in what manner. The hook will normally provide some indication as to which pin needs attention. Additionally, you may need to note the exact position of each pin in order for them all to return in place once the bobby pin is removed. As such, inspect each component carefully before attempting unlock your door with a bobby pin.

Insert the Bobby Pin

Inserting the bobby pin into the door lock is the first step in learning how to pick a door lock with a bobby pin. To insert the bobby pin, you need to position it so that the straight end is pointing away from the handle of the lock. Once the bobby pin is in place, you need to begin to jiggle it around to try and locate the pins that are inside the lock. Paying close attention to the tension of the bobby pin will be key in this initial step.

Push the pin in the lock

Once the bobby pin is correctly shaped, begin by inserting it into the keyway of the lock. You should start with the pin side of the bobby pin because this side will provide more traction and control. Work slowly, pushing until you reach where the plug meets the shell. Once you are in this position, you will need to exert varying amounts of downward pressure on the upper portion of the bobby pin while wiggling and moving it around inside.

This downward pressure is necessary to try and engage any pins that may be preventing opening of your lock. When it first engages a pin or pins, there may be a slight click or bumping feeling that indicates success. If you encounter resistance but no clicks, continue pressing down and adjusting your wiggling motions until something changes; this could take some time.

Continue to apply downward pressure while jiggling and manipulating in various directions to try and work each individual security pin up to the shear line at which point they can pass through freely towards their natural resting places within housing of lock plug itself. Do not give up or become frustrated if this isn’t achieved within one or two attempts; practice makes perfect!

Bend the pin into an L shape

The first step to picking a lock with a bobby pin is to bend the pin into an “L” shape. To do this, locate one end of the pin and hold it firmly in one hand. With your other hand, grip the middle of the bobby pin and bend it at a 90 degree angle. Bend one end of the bobby pin so that it is relatively straight, while keeping the other end at an approximate 45-degree angle with respect to the first end. You should now have a bobby pin with one end bent in an “L” shape and one end bent in an upwards angle, forming what is often referred to as an arrowhead or pick shape. Ensure that both ends are firmly attached and do not come undone; you may find that bending back and forth several times increases your grip strength on each side.

Manipulate the Lock

One of the most common methods of picking a door lock with a bobby pin is to manipulate the lock. This involves using the bobby pin as a tool to push or pull the locking pins up and out of the way, allowing the cylinder to rotate. This can be tricky, but with a little practice and patience it can be learned. Let’s look at the steps you need to take to pick a door lock with a bobby pin.

Feel for the pins inside the lock

Feeling for the pins inside the lock is a key step to manipulating a door lock with a bobby pin. It’s important to understand what happens when you turn the key in the lock – and then approach it from the opposite direction to “pick” it.

On the inside of any lock are five or six pins. When you insert your key and turn it, these pins are pushed up against springs until they align with an indent at the back of the keyhole, allowing your key to rotate freely and unlocking your door.

When attempting to pick a locked door using bobby pins, instead of pushing those pins up towards a specific indentation that matches your missing keys profile, you’ll be feeling for them as they rub against one another (and themselves) while you manipulate them using tension wrenches. You’ll want two bobby pins – one serves as a tension wrench while inserting into bottom of keyhole, while the other is used to feel around within that hole and push individual pins up out of their indundation so that they can move freely, allowing for passage into locked area once all locks above have been ‘cleared’. The art is in feeling those individual keys and pushing each up until all have been released – but don’t worry if master locksmiths at first have difficulty – this craft does take time and patience!

Push the pins up one by one

Once the tension wrench has been inserted and is applying pressure, it’s time to begin pushing the pins up one by one. Each pin should be felt with the bobby pin and then pushed up until it clicks in place. This clicking sound indicates that each pin has been lined up correctly and will allow the lock to be opened when this process is done. In order for this step to be successful, you will need to keep steady pressure on the tension wrench while pushing each pin up. As each pin is clicked into place, more pressure will be released from the lock cylinder and you will have an easier time pushing up any remaining pins. Once all of the pins are in alignment, turn the tension wrench as if opening a door handle and you should be able to open the lock.

Unlock the Door

Unlocking a door without a key is usually a difficult task. However, with a bobby pin, you can easily pick a lock and gain access. Bobby pins are one of the most versatile tools available and can often be used to bypass the lock. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few simple steps to help you pick a lock with a bobby pin.

Turn the lock with the bobby pin

Once the bobby pin is inserted into the keyhole, you will need to angle it slightly to lines up with the pins inside. Apply slight pressure on the bobby pin and start wiggling and twisting it in an upward motion. As you do this, ensure you maintain gentle and consistent pressure – if your pressure is too hard or jarring, then you may damage or break the lock.

The aim at this stage is to realign the pins inside so that they push up against your bobby pin. When this happens, you will feel a slight resistance – almost like something blocking your motion. With practice, this feeling will become familiar to you. Apply light force and increase or decrease according to what feels comfortable – once all of the pins are set in place, the lock will click open!

Open the door

Once you have inserted the bobby pin in your lock, the next step is to open it. Start by jiggling or twisting the bobby pin inside the lock. This will help you free the latch of any pins that may be preventing it from opening.

Use your power grip to turn one end of the bobby pin while using your support grip on the other end to help turn it inside the lock. As you try to turn it, listen and feel for a click, which indicates that all pins have been freed and can move freely within the cylinder. Once this happens, rotate your power grip so that both ends are turned in unison. This will cause the latch to move open and unlock your door.

When successfully unlocking a door with a bobby pin, be careful not to apply too much pressure with either hand or pull too hard on either end of the bobby pin as this may damage or break off pieces of it within the mechanism of your lock. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or unsure about how best to maneuver into place, take a break between attempts and come back when you’re ready for another try-practice makes perfect!

How to Pick a Door Lock with a Bobby PinCheckout this video:

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