How to Pick A Lock with A Hairpin

Pick a lock

Accidentally locking yourself out of your apartment, bedroom, or bathroom can be frustrating and expensive, especially when you’re in a hurry. Luckily, standard door locks and padlocks are relatively easy to open with two bobby pins and a little practice.

Prepare your tool

Pull one of the bobby pins apart, so you have a long, flat piece of metal.

Bend the bobby pin apart to hold a long piece of metal wire. This will become your tool to insert into the lock to slide the strikers out of the way. Take off the little plastic caps on the ends, otherwise, they’ll just get in the way. You can either do this with your teeth, or use wire cutters if you have one.

Now use the lock to make a lockpicking tool out of your hairpin.

Insert the bobby pin about an inch into the lock. The flat side should be facing up. Now push the rest of the bobby pin to the right so the end bends slightly. It only has to be a few millimeters. You can achieve the correct result by pushing the hairpin to the left a total of about 5 to 7.5 cm.

Bend one end of the bobby pin into a handle.

Take one end of the bobby pin and bend it halfway back as far as possible to create a small loop. This way, the tool is easier to hold and apply pressure.

Make your lever by bending an entire bobby pin to a right angle.

This is easiest to do with pliers, but you can use your fingers with a little patience and effort if you have to. The lever will later do the part of the key and rotate the lock cylinder after you’ve used the other tool to get the pins the way that is supposed to secure the lock. To do this, bend the sturdy half of the bobby pin (the already bent piece opposite the two ends with the plastic caps) so it’s at a right angle to the rest of the bobby pin.

Visualize what the lock looks like inside to understand how exactly it can be picked.

A typical lock consists of two components, the cylinder, and the pins or pins. The cylinder is the part where you insert the key. The pins are small metal pins that are recessed into the cylinder and held in place until a suitable key (or a skilled lockpick) pushes them up and out of the way. The pins are split in the middle, and when they are exactly halfway in line with the lock cylinder, the lock cylinder can be turned. As a lockpicker, it’s your job to push the pins one by one into the right position while slowly turning the cylinder so that they don’t fall back into their original position. Once you get all the pins out of the way, the cylinder will easily turn and the lock will open. A key is ultimately nothing more than a complicated tool for picking locks. The key blade is shaped to hold the pins in the perfect position when the key is inserted in the lock, allowing the lock to be opened.

Pick the lock

Insert the pry tool into the bottom part of the lock.

Insert the curved end into the bottom of the lock, keeping it as low as possible while pushing it as far into the cylinder as possible.

Turn the lock very slightly in the direction you would normally pick it.

Use your pry tool as if it were a key, and use it to turn the cylinder as if you were picking the lock normally. The cylinder won’t turn very far, but the pressure you apply is important. You must hold the lock in this position the entire time, but you must never apply too much pressure. You want to move the cylinder easily, but not overstress the lock. Keep in mind that the pins in the cylinder must still be able to move so that you can slide them up. If you’re unsure which direction the cylinder should rotate, just try both. If you turn it the wrong way round, it will make a clicking noise and you will feel something rub slightly.

Now insert your other tool into the lock with the curved side facing up and use it to feel for the pins.

You can get a pretty good feel for each pin by moving it up and down over and over again. They are in the upper part of the keyhole. Push some of them up and feel them move and fall back into place when you let go of them. You may have to fiddle and poke around with the bobby pin to get to each pin, and one or the other may not move immediately, but that’s okay. It is enough if you can first get an overview of how many there are in total, which ones can be moved easily, and which seem to be stuck. The curved end of the bobby pin should be facing up. You will use the end to push individual pins up. If the pins don’t move, you’re probably applying too much pressure. Slack off and try again.

Find the first stuck or stiff pin and slide it up until it clicks.

Go through all the pins until you find the one that doesn’t like to move. Keep the pressure on the cylinder constant and, at the same time, push the pinched pin up until you hear it click. The click means you’ve lined up the cut in the middle of the pin exactly with the height of the cylinder. The pin can now no longer block the lock. You may find that the cylinder can be turned a little further once you get past the stubborn pin. This is because there is now less resistance.

Find the other stuck pins and repeat the process.

Each time you open one of the pins, any pins that may have already been opened may slide back into their original position. In fact, that’s not too bad because it shows you which pins you should take care of next. Be patient and just keep repeating it until the cylinder finally spins freely in the lock and the door opens: Find the pin that is stuck and won’t move properly. Maintain constant pressure on the lever while simultaneously turning the lock as if you were opening it normally. Gently push up until it clicks in the lock. Do the same with the next pin.

Play around with the pressure on the pry tool if you experience difficulty.

This is the biggest hurdle for beginners when picking locks, because it requires absolute finesse. If you put too much pressure on the lock, the pins will get pinched and won’t move; then you can hardly or not at all get them out of the way. If the pressure is too light, or if you accidentally let go in the middle, the pins will slide back into place and you’ll have to start all over again. The best tip here is to start with too much pressure and then slowly release until you feel the pins moving freely. This way you don’t lose the pins and you can gradually find the right pressure in peace.


Remove the black plastic ends on the bobby pins, otherwise, they may get caught in the lock. Hairpins work best on padlocks and regular household locks. Take your time. It works best slowly and carefully, and you’ll make fewer mistakes that might require you to start over again.


Never pick a lock that doesn’t belong to you unless the owner permits you to do so. This article is for people who have accidentally locked themselves out of their home or lost their keys. Unless it’s a matter of survival, don’t pick anyone else’s locks! Don’t use these tricks just as a gimmick or to see if it works. It is quite possible that the lock will be damaged and then have to be replaced.



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