Skip to content

How to Pick a Normal 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 Pick a Normal Door Lock – The blog post covers the basic steps of picking a pin and tumbler lock.


Picking a normal door lock is an important skillset to possess if you ever wanted to access a locked area without a key. While it can be necessary in times of emergency, it should never be used for any illegal activities. The right tools, an understanding of the locking mechanism and some patience are required if you want to learn how to pick a normal door lock.

Before attempting to pick a normal door lock, it is important that you research the law in your area regarding the possession and use of lockpicking tools as they may vary from state to state. It is also important that you understand that picking locks can be difficult and there is always the risk of causing serious damage to the locking mechanism itself. If done incorrectly, picking normal door locks can prove fruitless and time consuming or worse, expensive repairs may be needed afterward.

We have created this guide as a resource for those who wish to know more about how to pick normal door locks for legal means. We will discuss the different type of locks on the market, helpful tools and techniques used when picking them and finally some best practices when attempting this activity yourself – with or without appropriate expertise or knowledge.

Gathering the Right Tools

If you want to pick a normal door lock, it is important to have the right tools. You will need a tension wrench, which is a thin metal tool used to hold the pins in place while you turn the lock. You will also need a lock pick, which is a metal tool used to move the pins within the lock. Finally, if the door has a knob lock, you will need a lock picking gun. Gathering all of these tools is the first step to lock picking.

Lock Pick Set

A lock pick set is essential when attempting to open a normal door lock. The tools may vary depending on the type of lock you come across, but there are some basics that every owner should possess. Having the right equipment for the job is important, even if you don’t have experience lock picking.

A typical starter set should include the following:
-Developmental Pick: Used to manipulate and decode pin tumblers
-Stress Wrench: Applies torque while picking so that additional tension can be used
-Half Diamond Pick: Used to navigate locks that don’t have many pins
-Tension Wrench: Is inserted in order to press against or push up pins as you pick them apart
-Rake Picks: Rakes can help speed up the process by manipulating several pins at once
-Pick Gun: Generally uses a vibrating motion to rapidly force pins out of their cylinders
-Pocket Clip Tool / Lakeland Tool: Can be used to create more leverage and tension while turning a cylinder.

Every case varies, so having multiple tools is beneficial and can make tasks much easier when addressing different types of locks. It’s important to remember that practice makes perfect! With enough time, anyone can learn how to open a normal door lock using a lock pick set.

Pick Gun

A pick gun, also known as a snap gun, is a highly effective tool you can use to unlock pin-tumbler locks. Despite being both powerful and easy to use, pick guns are still accessible to amateurs. Pick guns work by striking the pins within the lock with short bursts of torque delivered through a toggle switch on the handle. In order for it to effectively open most locks, pick guns require no more than 1/4 inch of space between each pin. This device is seen as one of the quickest and least destructive methods for unlocking standard pin-tumbler locks such as those found on typical residential doors.

Generally, most pick guns have five main parts:
-The body – This is a handle that houses the motor and spring mechanism that impacts the pins to open the lock.
-Toggle Switch – The plastic toggle switch allows you to send multiple bursts of torque into the lock quickly and efficiently.
-Pick Blade – Located at the tip of the gun, this component moves back and forth pushing pins up in sequence with each burst from processing mechanism inside causing them to reset
-Driver – Also located at tip of gun acts as a plug follower replicating motions similar to ones made by turning key inside lock
-Batteries – Most high quality pick guns will either use AA batteries or be rechargeable

Pick Rake

For learning how to pick a normal door lock, one of the most crucial items you’ll need is the pick rake. This tool, designed with several serrated teeth which are finely cut depending on the desired application, acts as a key – inserting into the lock and forcing they pins inside it just enough to unlock the door. Before you choose this tool though, make sure to consider the types of locks you plan on using it for.

There is a wide range of pick rakes available on the market today, from simple and standard versions that work well for many home-use locks up to complex variations made for highly specialised locks used in professional industries such as engineering or automotive uses. Examples include:

-Standard Pick Rake: The most commonly used type of rake is a basic version with four or five serrations-these should suffice in most cases where picking simple locks is concerned.

-Double-Sided Pick Rakes: These rakes are double sided featuring both up and down angles which allow them to be used in dual directions while reaching greater depths within a lock than single sided versions can reach.

-Rockers/Tension Wrenches: Rockers (a single curved piece) or tension wrenches (a double sided piece) are best used alongside pick rakes to apply pressure while picking and must be inserted into the keyhole at 90 degrees only, providing stability while keeping constant tension when all pins have been set correctly. Consider purchasing adjustable rocker picks which allow you customise their force according to what your specific lock needs at that moment.

Tension Wrench

A tension wrench is a specialized tool used in picking locks. This slender piece of metal functions as an adjustable lever, applying torque to the cylinder in order to keep it stable while other tools are used to manipulate the pins inside. Tightening the tool around the cylinder prevents it from resetting into its original shape and ultimately breaking the lock. Without a tension wrench, attempting to pick a lock is next to impossible.

When selecting a tension wrench, look for one that has enough bend in it so you can access difficult spaces while still providing enough torque pressure on the core of the lock shell. You also want something with an appropriately sized handle – you should be able to comfortably and easily hold it between your thumb and index finger without losing any pressure on your bent end. When in doubt, opt for something that is adjustable so you can customize its fit for different types of locks.

Preparing to Pick the Lock

Before you attempt to pick a normal door lock, it is important that you first prepare and gather the necessary tools and supplies. You’ll need a tension wrench, a lock pick, a pick set, and a flashlight to illuminate the keyhole. Additionally, you can use a credit card to shim open some locks if you don’t have any of the tools. Let’s take a closer look at how to pick a normal door lock.

Insert the Tension Wrench

Before you can pick the lock, you must first insert a tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole. The tension wrench is used to apply torque (pressure) to the cylinder of the lock, which holds the pins and other internal components in place. This will allow you to manipulate and raise each pin one at a time so that the lock can be opened. There are several types of torsion wrenches available, but they all work in roughly the same way – they have a small, L-shaped bar with one end inserted into the keyhole. Find one that fits snugly so that it won’t slip out when you apply pressure.

Insert the Pick

Before attempting to pick a lock with a tension wrench and a pick, it is important to make sure that the door is closed as far as possible and that the bolt slots are flush with the inside of the door. If there is any gap between them, you will not be able to reach the pins inside. Place your tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole and apply gentle pressure so that you can feel when the pins begin to move.

Next, insert your pick into the keyhole and carefully move it around in order to feel each pin individually. Using a twisting motion while keeping pressure on the tension wrench, figure out which pins are bunched at one end or another as this will require extra attention in order for them to become aligned correctly. Once all of the pins have been felt individually, slowly vary your pressure on both tools until you hear faint clicking sounds emanating from within keyhole itself – this indicates that all of pins are aligned correctly and that you can turn barrel in order to unlock door.

Applying Pressure

Applying pressure is the most important step when learning how to pick a lock. The pressure applied will guide the pins as they are set, allowing you to move onto the next step of raking. A tension wrench is inserted into the lock in order to apply this pressure. Apply light and equal pressure while inserting the tension wrench and keeping it at a 90-degree angle. As you insert the tension wrench, rotate it slightly until it engages on the plug and gives some resistance; this is an indication that you have properly engaged it. Once these steps have been completed, you can move onto raking the pins with your pick.

Techniques for Picking a Lock

Picking a lock is an essential skill to have and can be a useful tool for emergency situations. There are a few methods for picking a lock and each of them differ in terms of the tools and skills required to complete the job. This heading will look at the different techniques, tools and skill levels needed for each of them in order to determine which one is the best for you.


Raking is a popular lock picking method that involves inserting a rake-a specially designed tension tool-into the key hole and rapidly moving it back and forth to apply tension. This rhythmic raking movement simulates the action of a key, causing pins inside the lock to catch and Shear Line, allowing the plug-the cylinder that holds tumblers inside the lock-to spin freely. This can be done with several different types of tension tools, ranging from industry-standard varieties to homemade designs. Depending on lock type and design, raking can be an incredibly versatile and successful way of unlocking a door.

It’s important to seek full instruction if you plan on trying this technique as improper application may lead to damaged hardware and frustrated attempts at entry. As with all techniques discussed here, it is vital you receive certified training from a legitimate source before attempting this technique in an actual setting.

Single Pin Picking

Single pin picking (SPP) is a technique used by locksmiths to quickly and effectively open common cylinder pin tumbler locks. The basic principle of this technique involves the steady, gradual manipulation of individual pins within the lock cylinder in order to allow it to rotate freely. This process can be done manually using a pick and tension wrench, or it can be automated using an electric pick gun device.

When using manual SPP, a tension wrench is used to apply torque on the cylinder while a pick is used to manipulate each pin inside the lock. As each pin is successfully aligned along its shear line (where it will unlock), they all need to simultaneously reach this “aligned position” in order for the plug (core) of the lock to rotate and unlock. If one or more pins do not reach alignment, then they need to be adjusted before continuing with other pins until all are properly aligned at once.

In summary, single pin picking requires skillful manipulation with the right tools in order for each appropriate internal pin within a lock cylinder to align simultaneously so that it may be unlocked. Although experienced locksmiths practice this process routinely when dealing with locked doors, caution should always be exercised when using single pin picking techniques on any device that you are unfamiliar with as improper manipulation of its components could result in damage or misalignment of its components.


Manipulation is the most commonly used method to pick pin-and-tumbler locks. Manipulation works by using feel to determine when the correct driver pin has been engaged, thereby allowing the plug to turn slightly. This can be done with a tension wrench, allowing the lock to open with feedback from the inner components. To achieve this technique, one must have skillful hands and knowledge of how locks work in order to find which pins bind before they reach their lifting point by moving them up and down repeatedly until proper alignment is achieved.

The manipulation method includes two techniques: raking and single-pin picking (SPP). Raking applies tension on the lock, inserts a rake tool into the keyway that simulates a proper key cutting profile, and turns it back and forth quickly in hopes of aligning all binding pins simultaneously. SPP requires more skill as it requires patience to work each pin individually until it sets into place in its correct position. Picking tools such as hooks and diamonds are often used for manual single-pin picking while small electrical current pulsers provide powered single-pin picking that can speed up the process even further.


Now that you know the basics of how to pick a normal door lock, it’s time to hone your skills. Practice the techniques demonstrated here on a spare padlock, and start keeping an eye out for locks that suit your routine. If you’re ever stuck in an unfamiliar situation with a locked door, remember-if the lock is a normal type, you can pick it!

How to Pick a Normal Door LockCheckout this video:

Share this Article