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How to Pick My House 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.

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How to Pick My House Door Lock – Learn the basics of picking a pin tumbler lock in this step-by-step guide.


Picking a lock is an important skill to have and can come in handy in a variety of situations, especially when it comes to opening your own house door. Although the process of picking a lock is simple and straightforward, it requires sizeable patience and practice to be successful. Knowing how to safely pick your house door lock can save time and money while providing you with peace of mind. This guide will explain the basic steps required for picking the average residential door lock using everyday household tools.

Types of Door Locks

If you want to pick your house door lock, you need to first understand the different types of locks. Most locks fall into either mechanical or electronic categories, although there are hybrids available that combine both types. Some of the common lock types include cylinder locks, padlocks, vault locks, deadbolts, and mortise locks. Knowing which type of lock you have will help you determine the best way to pick it.


Deadbolts are the most common type of locks used on external doors and add an extra layer of security to your home. The deadbolt is an independent lock, meaning that it is not affixed to the door handle and thus must be operated separately. It works by a bolt which slides into place when the key is turned, not relying on spring tension as with knob locks. Deadbolts come in two types: single cylinder and double cylinder.

Single-cylinder deadbolts are the most common type and use a key from the outside for unlocking. Inside it has a small button for rotating or unlocking manually without a key. A double-cylinder deadbolt needs a key both externally and internally in order to operate; this design provides greater levels of security as there is no danger of leaving only a partially locked door if you forget to turn the key inside before leaving your home. It also eliminates any risk from break-ins using credit cards or other thin tools to slide past a latch or spring lock, since these rely on too much pressure for the bolt to move far enough for entry.

Deadbolts can also be reinforced with hardened steel rods in order to make them resistant even against drilling attempts, making them one of the best types of locks available today when installed properly by an experienced professional. Many homeowners also choose decorative finishes such as brass or traditional oil rub bronze which can suit any decor while providing added security benefits you’d expect from any good quality lock!

Knob Lock

Knob locks are a type of door lock commonly used on residential and commercial buildings. They consist of a cylindrical body that houses the latch mechanism, as well as an exterior facing plate and decorative knob or lever. The lock is operated by turning the knob or lever to open and close the door. In order to secure the door, a key must be inserted into either side of the knob lock in order for it to turn and activate the latch on either side.

Knob locks come in two main types: single-cylinder and double-cylinder models. Single-cylinder locks are opened from inside with either a turn or lever handle, while double-cylinder models require the use of a key from both sides for security purposes. Both types offer aesthetic appeal, but single-cylinder locks are typically considered more secure against potential forced entry tactics such as bumping or picking since they require a physical key from one of the locking points rather than both. Additionally, homeowners may prefer double cylinder locks if their home faces risk of fire; if so, they must store one key outside in order to be able to unlock the door in an emergency situation. Both types come available with different levels of security features such as deadbolts, anti-drill plates, snap on cylinders, etc., but it is important to note that these features should only be used under certain conditions as they can decrease force resistance when locked properly due to increased strength requirements.

Lever Handle Lock

A lever handle lock is composed of several components, such as the plate, latchbolt, and keyed cylinder. This type of door lock is secure and allows homeowners to access their home quickly by simply turning the door handle and pushing down or pulling up. Generally, lever handle locks are suitable for residential applications where improved security is desired. To enhance security, many lever handles incorporate features such as shield plates, which protect against forced entry. Additionally, deadbolts can be installed along with lever handle locks for extra security and to improve the unit’s resistance to burglary.

Mortise Lock

Mortise lock is a type of door lock that is installed into the edge of the door. It consists of two parts-a mortise housing and a deadbolt. Mortise locks are designed for residential, commercial, and institutional applications with varying levels of security depending on the complexity of the design as well as fittings and materials used. Most types have a thumb turn on one side and a keyed cylinder on the other side to open or close it.

The mortise housing is typically constructed from steel, brass or stainless steel. The housing encloses a latch bolt or deadbolt which then slides into place when closed. These locks are often combined with other hardware items such as hinges and latch plates, to complete the overall look of an entryway set. Mortise locks offer superior hanging strength over other types and typically require professional installation due to their complicated design structure.

Mortise locks can be further categorized based on functions like combination locks that use electronic keypads or cards for access, deadbolts that automatically lock when closed, locks with external levers, keyless entry combination locks, and more. Depending on your needs for security level, aesthetic appeal or convenience features you may opt for one over another type of door lock for your residence or business establishment.

Tools You’ll Need

Picking a door lock has many steps, but one of the most important and critical steps is having the right tools. You’ll need a tension wrench and lock pick, as well as other specialized tools such as a locksmiths pick gun or a hook pick. It’s important to ensure you have the right tools in order to be able to successfully pick your door lock.

Lock Pick Set

A lock pick set is probably the most important tool when it comes to picking locks. A typical lock pick set will come with several picks in various shapes, as well as a tension wrench and other tools you may need. In addition, lock pick sets also typically contain instructional materials to help you in your efforts. There are various types of lock pick sets on the market, so make sure to do your research and find one that suits your needs and experience level. You can also purchase specialized tools such as magnetic or electric picks as needed. Be sure to exercise caution when picking a lock with any tool – improper use of these can easily damage a lock or even cause serious harm to yourself or others.

Lock Bumping Tool

Lock bumping is a non-destructive method for quickly and easily unlocking a pin tumbler lock. This technique uses a specially designed key, referred to as a bump key, to apply mechanical force to the pins inside the lock cylinder. When hit with a quick “bump” and at just the right angle, the pins will suddenly align and allow for the lock’s plug or case to be turned as if it had been opened with its original key.

To achieve this effect, you will need a blank bump key that has been cut on either an automatic or manual key cutting machine. Bump keys are available in different shapes and sizes based on what kind of lock they are intended to open and can usually be purchased at most locksmith supply stores. In addition to the necessary tool –the blank bump key- you may also need access to other items such as files, fine-tipped screw drivers, lube or pick oil, tweezers and patience! Once you’ve acquired all of your necessary tools and are ready to begin practicing your skill in picking door locks with bump keys it’s important that you start small first with some simple garage door types before attempting tougher residential locks like padlocks. As long as you have everything properly positioned before attempting to “bump” open the door locks then you should be able successfully open one within minutes!

Tension Wrench

A tension wrench is a vital tool for picking locks and finding out what is known as “the sweet spot.” This tool is used to provide pressure to the cylinder so that it’s secure while the lock picker is maneuvering the pins into their correct locking positions. Usually, a short L-shaped piece of steel or brass with two different distances between its prongs, it applies tension to the cylinder and can help protect you from damage as you’re picking the lock.

There are several different types of tension wrenches available including simple flat wrenches and hooked ones with a small radius on its pronged end. Depending on your experience with picking locks, one type may work better for you than another. It might take some trial and error to figure out which works best for a particular situation or door lock mechanism. It’s important to understand how much pressure needs to be applied when using this tool in order to avoid damaging parts of the lock as you attempt to open it.

Steps to Pick a Lock

Picking a lock on your door is a great way to gain access to your home if you’ve lost or forgotten your key. Although it does require some skill, it’s something anyone can do with a few tools and a little practice. In this section, we’ll go over the steps needed to pick a lock, from the tools you’ll need to the actual methods of picking the lock.

Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the lock

Picking a lock can be a satisfying and practical way to access your house when you lose your keys or find yourself locked out. With the right kind of lock-picking tools and an understanding of the basics, you may be able to get inside without professional help or breaking a window.

The first step to pick a lock is to insert the tension wrench, often referred to as the ‘t-wrench’, in an orientation that counteracts the clockwise turning motion that helps keep it closed. Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway, close to where the actual key enters; use as little pressure as possible when turning it in order to prevent damaging any internal components of your lock. If inserted correctly and at just enough pressure on any given tooth in its design, you should be able to feel it giving way.

Apply pressure to the wrench

Before beginning to attempt to pick a lock, first use a tension wrench (also known as a torque or torsion wrench) to apply pressure to the core of the lock. This is equipped with a delicate tip, so it will act like an additional lever, turning the plug of the lock as you pick it. Assemble the appropriate tools for your door’s locking mechanism – standard locks may require only a single tool called a tension wrench and one or two other depending on the make and model of your lock. Applying pressure to the core isn’t enough for you to pick up your house door lock. Picking takes patience and practice — without it, you may unintentionally damage your house door lock’s internal components, rendering your home less safe than before you opened it.

Using an appropriate sized wrench, grip the core and apply gentle pressure in an anticlockwise direction (if looking at the keyhole). Pressure should be gradual and consistent throughout this process; applying too much can cause locksmith tools themselves break in extreme instances or they may damage or strip internal components within some newer types of locks making them harder to open in future sessions. Experimentation is key here so get used to feeling how much tension is necessary when working with any particular type of door lock. You may have some resistance when applying pressure; this is normal due to variances between different brands or models of locks.

Insert the pick into the top of the lock

Before inserting the pick into the top of the lock, be sure to lubricate it with oil. This will help reduce friction and make moving the pick inside the lock easier. Insert the pick in the top of the lock and carefully move it around until you find some resistance. If you feel any resistance, it likely means there are pins blocking your access to opening the lock. Move your pick around to try and separate the lock by pushing these pins out of place so they can align with each other at a straight line and then move your picking tool up and down to test each pin until they are all set.

Tip: Listen for clicks when pushing each pin, this is an indication that you have disengaged that specific pin. If you hear no clicks, then remove some pressure from that pin before continuing onward with your attempt to separate the lock.

Move the pick around and feel for the pins

Once you have chosen your tension wrench and pick, you can insert them into the lock. Insert the tension wrench all the way into the bottom of the keyway and apply a light tension in your desired turn direction. With your other hand, insert the pick into the top part of the keyway.

Now, move this pick around, gently feel for each pin one at a time while keeping constant pressure on the tension wrench. When you are able to move it to each pin without too much resistance, you know that all of them have been set appropriately. By now, you should be able to feel just how far in each pin is set when locking pressure is applied.

Continue turning your tension wrench until it has reached its end state, then apply slightly more torque in order for maximum security against tampering. You should now be able to unlock your door with minimal effort and a satisfying “click”!

When you feel the pins, lift them up one at a time

Now that you’ve inserted the tension wrench and pick into the lock, you need to turn the tension wrench so that it’s applying pressure in the appropriate direction to set all of the pins. With your pick, probe around in the lock and feel for each of the pins, one at a time. Each pin should be slightly sticking out of the top of the cylinder when it is properly aligned with its counterpart key pin in its chamber below. As you feel each pin, lift them up slowly until they are aligned as close to their running position as possible. You can do this incrementally by lifting all pins a little bit at a time or one pin at a time. Whatever technique you feel more comfortable with, then stick with it. Aligning all of the pins requires an exceptional amount of control and muscles memory over short periods of time to succeed with no mistakes made before moving onto step three. The most essential part about this step is understanding when a pin is properly set – too high or too low can cause major issues later on if not corrected immediately!

Keep applying pressure to the tension wrench

To pick a lock, you will need to apply even pressure on the plug of the lock with a tension wrench. The plug is essentially the same shape as the keyhole and contains all of the pins. Apply pressure in the direction that you think is correct, which is usually the direction used to turn a key to unlock. As you apply more pressure, use your pick – generally a small tool made with two thin flexible pieces of metal – to try and manipulate each pin in one at a time.

Essentially, you need to continue to apply torque from your tension wrench as your pick supplies vertical pressure. With each successful manipulation of one pin, go on to try and lift the next pin until all five pins have been set into place. Doing this successfully would require some upper body strength as well as skill but it would certainly be faster than using an alternate method like drilling into your own lock! If you am comfortable performing this task without damaging your lock, keep applying pressure to your tension wrench while picking away at each pin in order until all have been set securely into their correct position.

When all the pins are lifted, the lock should open

Once all the pins have been set correctly, the lock cylinder should turn and open the door. If not, you may need to start over, paying extra attention to ensure your tension tool is properly set while picking each pin. It can be a delicate process requiring patience and finesse.

If this is your first time picking a lock, it may seem difficult and frustrating at first; you may even find yourself stuck with a few pins still set in place and unable to lift them. Don’t give up! Have patience and stay focused on each step, adjusting your technique as needed to get a better result. Remember that if done correctly, the lock cylinder should flow smoothly when all pins are lifted. With practice, eventually you will unlock the door without any trouble.


Having reviewed the different types of locks and the tools required for picking a door lock, you can now make an informed decision about your best approach to unlocking your house door. Depending on your skill level, the complexity of the lock and other factors, you will need to decide if picking is the best approach or if you should contact a professional locksmith.

Remember that attempting to pick a lock without knowing what tools are needed could easily leave you with a damaged or unworkable lock which will then require repairs and/or replacement. If you decide to pick your own house door lock, take extra caution when using any kinds of tools and techniques in order to preserve the integrity of your existing hardware. Additionally, be sure to research practice-picking locks before attempting this on an actual door as this is an effective way to gain proficiency in handling their various unlocking tools. Lastly, it’s always recommended that property owners utilize high security locks with complex combinations that are hard enough for burglars and even most skilled professionals to crack.

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