Whether you can't get into your locked bedroom, or you left a room only to realize your keys are still inside, sometimes you need to pick a lock. Calling a locksmith can be expensive and it may take a long time for them to arrive. Luckily, most basic locks are easy enough to pick using readily available household items. Whether it's a keylock or privacy kind, you can use makeshift tools to gain entry in no time at all. Just remember: this guide is to help you get into your own accidentally locked rooms, not to break into other people's spaces.
A tumbler lock — like you might use to secure your bike or storage locker — is the most challenging kind to pick, although it's doable with practice. These locks have a case and plug with several pins inside that keep the mechanism from opening without the correct key. However, by lifting the pins and keeping them from falling back to the starting place, you can turn the lock and open the door. All it takes is a light touch and the right set of tools.
There are professional lock-picking kits with picks, tension wrenches, and raking tools. However, if you're in a pinch, you can substitute items from around the house like bobby pins or paperclips. You'll also need something to lubricate the lock, like lubricating graphite, which you can purchase from most hardware stores.
First, you'll need to figure out which way the key turns. To do so, insert your tension wrench into the keyhole's top or bottom. Using light pressure, turn both ways. The plug will turn a little more one way than the other, indicating the direction the key turns. Now apply some lubricant to loosen the pins inside and make the mechanism more workable.
Start by applying light pressure to the keyhole with your tension wrench. The next step is to push up the pins inside, one by one. As each pin lifts, the tension from your wrench will keep it from falling back so you can set the next one. Once you've lifted all the pins, the lock will open.
Another common lock the regular person needs to pick is the privacy lock; say, if your toddler accidentally locked herself in the bathroom or bedroom. With these, there are one of two kinds of locking mechanisms inside: a pushbutton or a twisting mechanism. The outside of the knob usually has a small hole if you need to enter in an emergency.
Firstly, you need to identify whether it's a twisting or pushpin mechanism. Then you'll need something suitable for picking the lock. A long, straight, and thin object that's small enough to fit inside the hole is usually all it takes. A bobby pin can work, as can the ink refill for a basic pen. Some styles have a slot instead, and a simple flathead screwdriver or butter knife often works.
You can insert the item in the hole for pushpin mechanisms until you feel resistance, and then push. You will notice a clicking sound that signals the lock has been released. With a twisting lock, you can twist the tool in one direction or the other until the lock releases.
Using a plastic card can help you pick a lock. Firstly, you need to find a plastic loyalty card or store card. Avoid using actual credit or debit cards that may get damaged, but whatever you choose should have similar lamination and stiffness. Don't use a chip card because the chip could break.
First, take the card and slip it into the gap between the door and door jam. Starting above the handle, slide the card down and inwards. You may need to wiggle it around a bit, but once the card presses against the latch, the door should open. Don't be too forceful or the card may slip through the crack.
You can purchase a lock-picking gun that will rake a lock for you. These tools are fairly large but can open any tumbler lock in seconds. Rather than trying yourself, you can keep one of these in the car in case of emergencies. Keep in mind it can be difficult to find this tool since they shouldn't be easily accessible to people with nefarious motives.