This video will show how a standard pin and tumbler lock
can be picked with hairpins just like
it’s been done and nearly every spy movie ever made.
The first thing we need to learn is how these locks work.
In a pin and tumbler lock like this,
which is the most common type of lock in use today,
a series of pins cut at different lengths
prevent the barrel of the lock from turning.
unless each pin is pressed up to the exact right height.
The grooves cut into the key are a unique match,
lifting each pin just enough for a split in their center to
align with the edge of the locks barrel allowing it to turn.
To open this lock without the key,
I need to make two simple tools.
The actual pick that I will use to manipulate the pins
and also a small lever that
will allow me to apply rotational pressure to the barrel.
To begin with the pick, a hairpin is bent open
until the ends are about 90 degrees apart.
The bit of rubber on the straight side of the pin needs to be removed,
which is pretty easily done with your teeth
if there are no tools present.
The end of the pick now needs a slight bend,
which can be done by pushing it into the lock itself
and applying pressure like so.
The last improvement that can be made
is to bend the other half of the hairpin
into a bit of a handle,
which will make the pick a lot easier to control.
Now making the lever that will turn the lock
is extremely simple and
just involves bending a pin as shown.
So it can be inserted into the keyhole,
causing pressure on the arm to
translate into rotational force on the lock.
Now we’re ready to actually begin picking and
our lever is inserted into the lower side of the keyhole,
leaving enough room for the pick to be inserted above.
The first step is to
put tension on the lever with one hand
so that the barrel of the lock is under pressure to turn.
It of course cannot turn because
the pins are in the way and cause the barrel to seize.
But it’s precisely this friction between
the pins and the barrel that I’ll be taking advantage of.
Keeping tension on the barrel the pick is inserted
and the first thing to notice is
that even though the lock is under pressure,
some of the pins still move up and down freely.
Because of inherent imperfections in all locks,
only one or two pins
will ever bind against the barrel at the same time.
For now, the pins that easily raise and fall can be ignored
and our focus should be on finding one
that is currently seized.
Seized pins can be identified by one of the time,
feeling each pin with the end of the pick,
pressing them up slightly and letting them fall again.
When we find a seized pin, it will behave differently,
being much harder to push up than the rest,
assuming you are keeping constant pressure on the lever this whole time.
Once the first seized pin is found,
which just happens to be the third pin in this lock.
It is very slowly and carefully forced upwards.
Eventually the split in the seized pin
will align with the edge of the barrel and
there should be an audible click.
The click is the sound of the barrel
suddenly being allowed to rotate forward very slightly
before hitting and seizing on one of the other pins.
Since the barrel has been allowed to slightly rotate,
it prevents the pin we just worked on from falling and
at the same time, a new seized pin has been created,
which can be identified and treated the same as the first.
As each seized pin is successively identified,
by feeling it with the end of the pick
and the tension on it is released by
aligning its gap with the edge of the barrel.
It causes one of the remaining pins to then become seized
until every pin has finally been aligned
and the lock opens.
If once you believe every pin has been dealt with,
you find that the lock still does not open.
There’s a good chance that one of the pins
was pressed too high
and it’s a gap is above the edge of the locks barrel.
If this happens,
there’s a chance that reducing the tension on the lever
will cause the offending pin to fall into alignment
and allow the lock to open.
But it may also allow other pins to fall.
which could require starting over.
In this video, I used two transparent practice lock.
So you can see what I’m doing on camera
and there are a number of other practice locks
like this that can be purchased online.
For this skill to be of any use in a real situation though,
it’s important to be able to identify
and adjust seized pins by feel and sound alone.
As real locks, don’t usually come with transparent sides.
Both of the tools that I made in this video
could also potentially be formed out of a single hairpin
by breaking it in half.
But doing so would not leave enough extra
to bend a handle for the pick
and would also result in a lever only half as long.
Because of these things, using an individual pin
for each tool as I demonstrated here
is far easier than trying to use just one.
But it is possible with enough practice.
This project was made in part
as a collaboration with All Time Numbers who
have made their own video to go along with this one.
All Time Numbers is a brand new channel from all time tens
with quite a few great videos out already.
You can check them out by clicking on the icon on screen now
or through the link in the video description below.
If you’d like to see more of my own videos, you can
find them on my Youtube channel NighthawkInLight.
Thanks for watching.