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How to Pick a Door Lock with a Screwdriver

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 Screwdriver- A blog post that shows you step by step how to pick a door lock with a screwdriver.

Gather Your Materials

If you want to pick a door lock with a screwdriver, you need to make sure you have all of the necessary supplies before you get started. You will need a screwdriver, a tension wrench, something to manipulate the pins in the lock, and something to see into the lock. Once you have gathered all of your materials, you can start the process.

Find a flat head screwdriver

Before attempting to pick a door lock, you must gather your materials. The most important item you need is a flat head screwdriver. You want one that is thin enough to fit into the lock but thick enough to give you some strength when applying torque. It doesn’t need to be excessively long, but make sure it is long enough to reach all the way in. Additionally, make sure your screwdriver is made of strong metal so it won’t bend or break while picking the lock.

You may also want to have a lubricant such as graphite powder on hand, which will help reduce friction and allow you more precise control when manipulating the pins. If you don’t have graphite powder, other household items such as chapstick or even butter can be used with nearly the same effectiveness. Finally, you may benefit from having needle-nose pliers on hand in case something gets stuck while picking the lock; this should be kept as a last resort measure since they can damage delicate components inside of the lock if used improperly.

Locate a tension wrench

The tension wrench is the key to successfully picking a lock-it creates the necessary tension to make the lock actually work. Sources for a tension wrench include professional locksmithing stores or online retailers, or you can make one at home with a small piece of sturdy wire such as copper or even aluminum. To make one, measure out approximately four inches of wire and wrap it around your index finger with enough slack to move up and down on your finger. It should be tight enough that it fits in the bottom part of the keyway, but loose enough to be able to move freely.

Prepare the Lock

When attempting to pick a door lock with a screwdriver, it is important to make sure you have the right tools and supplies. First, you will need to acquire a torque wrench or similar tool to provide enough tension to the lock. You will also need a small flathead screwdriver, a small Phillips head screwdriver, and various pick tools such as a rake, a diamond pick, and a half diamond pick. These tools will help you successfully pick the lock.

Insert the tension wrench into the lock

Insert the tension wrench into the lock. Make sure that the end of it is parallel to the keyway. The tension wrench, or torque wrench, is a small tool that goes into the keyway of a pin tumbler lock and will later apply torque to move pins while picking. This single tool can be used as both a torque application device and as a pick, making it versatile and invaluable for lock picking.

Hold it in place with your right index finger and thumb while applying slight pressure in towards the door using your left hand. Increasing the pressure in either direction will increase the level of resistance that you’ll feel when driving picks down through the shear line. Adjust your pressure so that everything feels “just right” – not too tight, but not too loose either. After you get everything feeling comfortable, you are now ready to start manipulating individual pins within the lock cylinder.

Apply pressure to the wrench

Once you have the wrench in place, apply pressure to the screwdriver with your hand or a pair of pliers. Keep pressure firm and steady, as any sudden jerking could damage the lock. Apply as much pressure as you can so that the pick can break through and engage with the pins inside the lock. The longer and harder you apply pressure, the deeper into the lock your picking tools will penetrate. Be patient – it may take some time to successfully engage the inner workings of a lock, but it’s worth it if you are able to open the door without damaging it!

Insert the Screwdriver

Inserting the screwdriver into the keyhole of the door lock is the first step to unlocking the door with a screwdriver. The insertion needs to be done gently and methodically in order for your attempt to be successful. First, inspect the keyhole. The keyhole should be angular shaped and not too deep as it will make it difficult to insert the screwdriver. Make sure to place the tip of the screwdriver into the deepest part of the keyhole for the best results.

Insert the flat head screwdriver into the lock

In order to pick a locked door, you will need a flat head screwdriver. Carefully insert the flat head screwdriver into the hole in the lock and then push it in at an angle so that it can make contact with the locking mechanism. Once you are sure that the tip of the screwdriver is positioned correctly and firmly in place, apply some pressure. Gently wiggle the handle of the screwdriver until you feel some give and hear a clicking sound which indicates that you have moved the pins out of place, enabling the door to be opened.

Turn the screwdriver clockwise

Now that you’ve inserted the screwdriver, you’ll need to turn it in a clockwise motion. You may feel some resistance as the screwdriver moves into place: don’t force it, as this could damage the pins inside the lock. Once you feel the resistance start to ease, stop turning and move onto the next step. As you continue this process and test for resistance at different depths, keep in mind that some locks require more turns than others to unlock them – generally turning 3-4 times should be enough. Practice makes perfect here! The goal is to “feel” when all levers are pressed in simultaneously, which means that all locking pins are completely pushed inside and disengaged from the keyhole.

Manipulate the Lock

One of the most common ways to pick a door lock with a screwdriver is to manipulate the lock. This method is a bit of a challenge, but it is possible with some patience and practice. Essentially, you will be using the screwdriver to manipulate the internal parts of the lock in order to unlock it. Let’s take a look at how this method works.

Apply pressure to the tension wrench

For most types of lock picking, the first step is to insert a tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole. The tension wrench should fit snugly and should press against the pins inside. Apply light pressure and rotate the wrench, turning it either clockwise or counterclockwise until you feel resistance. This resistance typically occurs at about two-thirds of an inch into the keyhole’s depth. When you reach this point, stop applying tension and assess whether your lock picking is successful. This will depend on how many times you need to reset and apply more force; some locks may be easier to pick than others due to age, quality or design.

Turn the screwdriver counter-clockwise

Turning the screwdriver counter-clockwise is typically the first step when attempting to manipulate a lock with a screwdriver. Insert the flat head or Phillips tip of the screwdriver into the top of the keyhole and apply enough pressure to turn it counter-clockwise. When turning it in this direction, you are applying torsion, which is force applied in different directions within an object, in this case the lock’s internal mechanisms. This motion is used to move or pivot the pin inside of the lock and eventually align them correctly so that they fit around and operatively interact with each other allowing it to open.

Continue rotating and shifting your screwdriver until you find a particular location where tension and resistance more easily pull against you. This will indicate that one of pins has aligned itself correctly inside of your lock as gravity draws against your tools’ force. If you do not experience any resistance while turning your screwdriver, stop twisting immediately before damaging any part of its internal mechanisms as you may need to adjust its position before proceeding further with manipulation attempts.

Test the Lock

Before you attempt to pick any lock, it is important to first test it to make sure the lock is working correctly. To test a door lock with a screwdriver, you will need to insert the screwdriver into the keyhole and apply pressure. If the lock is working properly, you should not be able to turn the screwdriver or break it. If you can, then the lock may be broken and that could make it easier to pick.

Try the lock with a key

If you are attempting to pick a door lock with a screwdriver, the first step is to try the lock with your own key. If the key you have correctly opens the lock, there is no need to proceed with picking it, as the solution is already at hand. However, if the key does not work or cannot be inserted into the lock aperture at all, then additional steps must be taken to pick it.

For more complicated locks it is possible that something is blocking or interfering with your key’s ability to open them. To confirm this possibility, use a different key from another set of keys and test if it works on that same lock. If this second key does not open the lock either then you will need to attempt other methods such as using a flat head screwdriver to twist and turn inside the cylinder of your door’s locking mechanism in order to release or bypass the latch or bolt mechanism inside.

Test the lock with the tension wrench and screwdriver

In order to open a door lock with a screwdriver, you’ll first need to insert the tension wrench (or turner) into the bottom of your lock. Firmly hold the tension wrench in place with the flat end towards the left and slowly turn it clockwise with light pressure until you feel resistance from within the lock. Once you have created enough space, insert the narrow end of your screwdriver into this opening and apply more pressure while slowly turning it counterclockwise at a slight angle. If done correctly, you should hear a ‘click’ as the pins inside your lock move and unlock it. Test again by turning the tension key to ensure that it works properly before releasing either tool.

How to Pick a Door Lock with a ScrewdriverCheckout this video:

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