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How to Pick a Door Lock with a Hairpin

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.

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If you’re looking for a way to pick a door lock with a hairpin, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to do it.


Unlocking a door with a hairpin is an attainable task that requires basic tools and an understanding of the practice and mechanics of lock picking. With enough patience and proper technique, it is possible to pick open the lock on your door without complicated or expensive tools. This guide will provide an overview of how to pick a lock using a hairpin, what materials you need, safety precautions, and basic techniques for success.

Gather the Tools

Learning how to pick a door lock with a hairpin is a useful skill that can come in handy in certain situations. Before you begin, you will need to gather a few essential tools. These will include a hairpin, a tension wrench, and a pick tool. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves since you’ll be touching the lock mechanism. Once you have all the necessary tools, you can begin the process of unlocking the door.


A hairpin is the most accessible tool when it comes to picking a door lock. It’s easy to find and carries no legal implications like buying a professional set of lock picks might. A hairpin can be transformed into an effective picking tool with just a few adjustments.

To begin deconstructing the pin, use pliers to bend one end at a 90-degree angle. This will create a pressure wedge that will allow you to push against the inner pins so they move up enough for the plug to rotate in the frame and unlock the door. Next, flatten out the other end of the pin into an L-shape and then grab that portion at the pointy tip and bend it another 90 degrees. This second bend will give you something to grip while applying turning pressure while “raking” or “jiggling” your newly constructed tool inside of your lock.


Having a powerful flashlight is important when attempting to pick a lock. The internal components of a lock need to be properly illuminated in order for you to identify the pins and manipulate them into the correct position. It’s best to have a flashlight with an adjustable focus that can cast light on small areas inside the lock, so you can easily see what you’re doing. Be sure to wear safety glasses when using any kind of tool in order to protect your eyes from metal shavings or other debris that may fly out while manipulating the pins inside the lock.

Pen or Paperclip

Using a pen or paperclip to pick a lock is one of the quickest and most basic methods used by lock pickers. All that is required to perform this technique are two common story house items, a flat-edged paper clip and a pen or pencil. Begin by straightening out the flat edge of the paper clip. Next, use the wider tip of the pen or pencil to spread apart the prongs of the lock while carefully inserting part of the flattened paper clip into each side of the keyhole. After inserting both parts, press down on them in opposite directions as if you were to turn an invisible key in between them. If your technique is correct, one will catch allowing you to lift up on it, causing it to mimic unlocking a door with its corresponding key. In many cases, this can open even complex locks without damaging them, making it an ideal method for novices looking to gain entry into locked spaces.

Prepare the Lock

Picking a door lock with a hairpin is a skill that takes practice to master. Before you can start to pick the lock, you need to prepare the lock by pushing the pins into the correct position. This can be done by inserting the hairpin into the keyhole and gently pushing it in and out until you hear clicking sounds. Once the pins have been pushed back, you can begin to pick the lock.

Examine the Lock

Before attempting to pick the lock, it’s important to visually assess what type of lock you are dealing with. The two most common locks are pin tumbler locks and warded locks. Both use a key to unlock, but they vary in how they work and need different tools for successful manipulation. Pin tumbler locks are more common in residences and commercial settings, while warded locks are often used on cabinets or desks that do not require high security. It’s important to determine the type of lock that you have before proceeding with picking the lock so that you know what tools to use.

Pin tumbler locks have pins arranged inside a cylinder which need raised or lowered in order for the plug, or cylinder core, to turn freely and open the door. The pins come in three parts – the driver pin, spring and key pin – which must all be lifted within a certain amount of time in order for the plug to move freely. Warded locks contain moveable protruding pieces on either side of its keyhole which prevent any tool from entering unless it is designed specifically for that type of lock.

Insert the Hairpin

The goal is to use the hairpin to manipulate the pins within the keyhole to unlock the door. Start by straightening out the majority of the hairpin, but leave a small piece of it bent inwards at a 90-degree angle. This angled piece will form a lever for you to use as you work to pick open the lock.

Insert the bent portion of your hairpin into the top of your keyhole. Apply slight pressure as you angle it upwards so that two components of your hairpin (the shaft and lever) separate and begin pressing against corresponding pins inside. This action creates tension in each spring-loaded pin, holding them in place against each other and preventing them from releasing into their locked position.

Use gentle force with your lever as you adjust it up or down, feeling for feedback that indicates when the pins have been properly aligned. With proper manipulation, these pins will eventually move slowly up until they reach their highest point and release their tension with an audible click sound. When all rendering pins have engaged successively (in order), then can rotate freely within their lock and you can free open it with some pulling pressure on your hairpin..

Manipulate the Lock

Manipulating a lock is a process of inserting the hairpin into the lock and carefully moving it around to engage the pins. With this process, you can open the lock by pressing the pins up in the cylinder. It may take several attempts before you can freely open the lock, but with practice you can open any lock with a hairpin in no time. Let’s take a look at how to manipulate a lock with a hairpin.

Bend the Hairpin

The first step in learning how to pick a door lock with a hairpin is manipulating the lock itself. To begin, you will need to use your flat flaring tool (or even something like a small screwdriver) to bend one end of the hairpin into an “L” shape. This forms the two prongs needed for tension and raking in order to properly manipulate the pins inside the lock. The experts recommend a V-shape as opposed to an L-shape; however, beginners might find working with an L much easier. As you become more experienced, you can move towards forming your own V-shaped setup. Make sure you bend both ends of your hairpin equally as far in order for it to be balanced enough for efficiently manipulating the pins within the lock.

Push the Pins Up

A lockpicking technique used on pin tumbler locks is known as raking. This method relies on a tension wrench, paired with a long pick such as a hairpin. To begin the process of picking the lock, start by inserting the tension wrench into the keyhole and applying torque in the direction needed to turn the lock (clockwise for most locks). The pressure from this tool will hold in place any pins that have already been set. Next, insert a long pick such as a hairpin and rake it towards you in one smooth motion, pushing all pins up if possible until each one is locked into place. This will cause all lower pins to stick above the shear line, allowing you to unlock the door.

Turn the Lock

The next step in picking a door lock with a hairpin is to rotate the cylinder lock. Once the hairpin pick has been inserted into the keyhole, it’s important to wiggle and turn it in order to make sure that all of its components are properly regulated. Once you feel resistance as you are pushing and rotating the pick, this means that all of the appropriate pieces should be moving freely in their respective positions.

The goal is then to rotate the cylinder lock with your pick. To do this, lightly push your pick towards the back of the lock while also turning it clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which way locks or unlocks your specific door lever handle. As you are pushing and turning, keep an eye out for any slight clicks that might indicate that part of your latch has been released and if so, congratulate yourself! You have successfully manipulated the internal mechanics of a lock using only a simple hairpin!


In conclusion, with the right tools and some practice, you can easily pick a door lock with a hairpin. It will take some time to get it right but it can be done quickly and safely if you use all of the steps outlined in this guide. When picking locks, always make sure to be aware of your surroundings and not try to trespass where it is not allowed. Picking door locks with a hairpin is an excellent skill to have in case of emergencies or for recreation purposes. With a proper understanding of the process and enough practice, even novice lock pickers can learn how to pick locks in no time!

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