Author: Ted the Tool
September 1, 1991

Contents of the Guide to Lock Picking


August 1991 revision. Copyright 1987, 1991 Theodore T. Tool. All rights reserved.

Permission to reproduce the 1991 edition of this document on a non-profit basis is granted provided that this copyright and distribution notice is included in full. The information in this booklet is provided for educational purposes only.

November 2005 revision. Copyright 2005 Fort Liberty. All rights reserved.

Other Guides to Lock Picking

Ted the Tool’s Guide to Lock Picking

The MIT Guide to Lock Picking in PDF format

Secrets of Lock Picking

Stephen Hampton

alt.locksmithing FAQ

This FAQ does not attempt to teach you locksmithing, just to answer simple questions, give you some hints on getting started, and point you to sources of information. Also included is a glossary of common terms. The Appendix covers many supply places, books and tapes on lock picking.

Lock picking 101

Lock picking, Locksmithing, Locks and Picks

How Lock Picking Works

From - very nice graphics

Inside a Combination Lock

From - very nice graphics

Greg Miller’s Guide to Lock Picking for Beginners

Brief guide to lock picking

Lock Picking Infopaedia

Brief introductory guide to lock picking

CIA Field Expedient Key Casting Manual

Picking Master Locks

The Jolly Roger’s Guide to Picking Master Locks

How to make lock picks

Impressioning Manual for Amateur Locksmiths

Impressioning is a method of fitting a key to a lock without taking the lock apart

Using Lock Pick Guns

Plenty of web sites and discount catalogs offer lock pick guns for sale, but it is difficult to tell from the ads whether a lock pick gun is a tool worth having. There are problems that accompany their use that are not mentioned in the advertisements. Here is some honest information about the merits, detriments, capabilities, and usefulness of lock pick guns.

A List of All Simplex Lock Combinations

Open any Simplex lock in about 10 minutes by trying all possible combinations

Different Types of Walls and Security

A brief guide to physical barriers and physical security measures. Also covers noice, vibration, electronic field, seismic, microwave, and photoelectroc sensors.

Picking New High Security Door Locks

Picking Medeco Locks, Puzzle Locks, Push Button Combination Locks

How to remove pins from a pin tumbler dead-bolt

How to remove pins from a pin tumbler dead-bolt in order to create a practice lock for learning lock picking.

Attacks Against The Mechanical Pin Tumbler Lock

This paper examines an overview of the common pin tumbler lock and the five methods to exploit them. Pin tumbler locks are found in a vast majority of residential, commercial, government and educational institutions. It is possible for an attacker without using any specialized tools or having an expert skill level to quickly open them. When evaluating the current or future key based pin tumbler lock the security practitioner should protect against the methods of picking, impact, impression, decode and bypass.

Notes on Picking Pin Tumbler Locks

The modern pin tumbler lock is quite simple, dating back to ancient Egypt but not commercially mass-produced until the middle of the 19th century.

Guide to Lock Picking

Brief introduction to lock picking by Michael Lee.

Bumping Locks

How to open Mul-T-Lock (pin-in-pin, interactive, 7×7), Assa (6000 Twin), DOM (ix, dimple with ball), LIPS (Octro dimple), Evva TSC, ISEO (dimple and standard), Corbin, Pfaffenhain and a variety of other expensive mechanical locks without substantial damage, usually in under 30 seconds, with little training and using only inexpensive tools.

Cutaway Cylinders and Their Locking Technique (Part 1)

DOM ix Dimple Key System

Discs Make the Difference

Excellent tutorial on Abloy locks.

Cryptology and Physical Security: Rights Amplification in Master-Keyed Mechanical Locks

This paper examines mechanical lock security from the perspective of computer science and cryptology. We focus on new and practical attacks for amplifying rights in mechanical pin tumbler locks. Given access to a single master-keyed lock and its associated key, a procedure is given that allows discovery and creation of a working master key for the system. No special skill or equipment, beyond a small number of blank keys and a metal file, is required, and the attacker need engage in no suspicious behavior at the lock�’s location. Countermeasures are also described that may provide limited protection under certain circumstances. We conclude with directions for research in this area and the suggestion that mechanical locks are worthy objects for study and scrutiny.

Safecracking for the Computer Scientist

This paper is a general survey of safe and vault security from a computer science perspective, with emphasis on the metrics used to evaluate these systems and the weaknesses that cause them to fail. We examine security against forced, covert and surreptitious safe opening, focusing on the mechanical combination locks most commonly used on commercial safes in the US. Our analysis contrasts the philosophy and tools of physical security with those of information security, especially where techniques might be profitably applied across these disciplines.

How to Recover a Combination to a Lost Master Combination Pad Lock

Books on Lock Picking


Top security pro Bill Phillips has put together a learn-as-you-go guide packed with everything you need to start off a lucrative career as a locksmith. From cutting keys to installing closed circuit television systems, Locksmithing prepares you to work with nearly every type of locking device used in residential, automotive, commercial, and electronic security devices. Step-by-step instructions, illustrations, charts and checklists, and plenty of the authorAEs own trade secrets, will have you picking open locks…impressioning keys… opening any car door…installing and servicing electric strikes, electromagnetic locks and emergency exit door devices in no time at all. What’s more, this is the only locksmithing book to keep you on top of high-tech CCTV, access control systems, and systems integration, areas that you’ll need to understand and work with to stay competitive. You even get valuable tips for getting hired or starting up your own business, licensing information and a sample certification exam, plus scores of handy references from trade journals to Websites, from suppliers to trade associations.

The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing
The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing

The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing has been the best-selling, standard reference in the field since 1976. It is accessible to students, apprentices and professionals alike. No other book has as much useful, practical and comprehensive information on locksmithing. Bill Phillips provides easy to understand information on all the basics of locksmithing and on the advanced techniques a locksmith needs to survive in a competitive market. It covers everything from master keying and lock picking, to auto locks, lockmaking, and servicing safes. Phillips also provides 3 sample tests to prepare for Registered Professional Locksmith certification exams.

Modern High-Security Locks : How To Open Them
Modern High-Security Locks: How To Open Them

Master locksmith Steven Hampton, author of the best-selling Secrets of Lock Picking, takes the art of picking locks one step further with Modern High-Security Locks. Here, he collects some of today’s most popular pick-resistant locks and sets out to see which ones hold up to their claims. However complex a lock gets, it must be durable, dependable and user-friendly. It has to be tough enough to endure physical attack, but it can’t be machined too tight or it will jam up with just a breath of dust. It must be simple and easy to lock and unlock with its key, or the customer will not pay the higher price for it. It is this delicate balance between security and utility that allows the locksmith to open this new generation of locks. Hampton shows locksmiths how each lock is picked and how long it will take. He details the tools of the trade and includes patterns and instructions for making your own picks and tension wrenches. He even includes ancient Tibetan Buddhist tantric visualization exercises to help locksmiths learn to “see” the inner workings of the lock within the mind’s eye. Veteran locksmiths or those new to the trade will find Hampton’s latest book an invaluable sourcebook.

Techniques of Safecracking
Techniques of Safecracking

Opening Combination Padlocks: No Tools, No Problem
Opening Combination Padlocks: No Tools, No Problem

It is incredibly easy to forget the combination to padlocks on your own tool shed, gym locker or anyplace else these common locks are found. This handy guide teaches one thing: how to open a padlock whose combination is lost. Dissatisfied with books that showed methods that didn’t allow entry into all locks or made it difficult to always accurately find the first or third number, usually the main basis for their technique, author Carl Black devised a foolproof system that allows quick entry into all combination padlocks in minutes without any guesswork or tools. He explains how it works with clear instructions and illustrations and gives problem-solving tips for difficult locks.

How To Open Locks Without Keys Or Picks (Locksmithing)
How To Open Locks Without Keys Or Picks (Locksmithing)

Many leading locksmiths feel that opening locked doors by means other than picking or key fitting is a necessary part of the locksmith’s knowledge. Since no two jobs present the same problem to a master locksmith, it is a credit to his ability for him to be familiar with all the ways of doing his work.

Techniques of Burglar Alarm Bypassing
Techniques of Burglar Alarm Bypassing

How To Open Locks With Improvised Tools: Practical, Non-Destructive Ways Of Getting Back Into Just About Everything When You Lose Your Keys
How To Open Locks With Improvised Tools: Practical, Non-Destructive Ways Of Getting Back Into Just About Everything When You Lose Your Keys

Practical, real-world solutions to lockouts. Learn to open doorknobs, deadbolts, car doors, padlocks, handcuffs, et cetera. This book sold out as “Lock Bypass Methods,” and has proven to be the best manual on keyless entry available. Since your resources are usually on the other side of the door when you’re locked out, it shows how to improvise tools from garbage and common, everday items. Multiple entrance options are provided in case of stubborn doors or limited materials. Thousands of people have successfully opened doors using techniques they learned in “Lock Bypass Methods.” This expanded edition has more illustrations and new techniques.

This book will not waste your time trying to explain how to pick sidebar locks, or activate magnetic-stripe readers without a key card. It DOES explain how to open doors protected by these locks, simply and without damage, through bypass techniques. A latch holds something shut, and a lock is a gateway to that latch. This book teaches ways to climb over the fence and ignore the gate. You will learn how to pick locks, a skill that works 60-70% of the time. More importantly, you will learn methods to trip actuators, move linkage rods, take advantage of mechanical design flaws, exploit tolerances in a lock’s setting, and other practical means of entry.

The book’s focus is on problem solving, not presenting methods that are too difficult to accomplish. Many other books in this field suffer from too much theory and too little delivery. If it doesn’t work, it isn’t in here. This book is designed to give the reader skills that open locks without keys or damage. It is not a whitewashed or glossed-over set of instructions that leave a reader feeling as if failure is his fault and he just hasn’t developed some special esoteric talent. Difficulties encountered in opening methods are identified, explained, and solutions are given to cope with them. The book is clearly written and illustrated, and covers problem solving, how locks work, picking, bypassing, and tool making. If you are interested in opening locks without keys, you should have this book.

Visual Guide to Lock Picking
Visual Guide to Lock Picking

This is the definitive guide for learning the art of lock picking. Inside you will discover the secrets of the trade. By reading this book, practicing, and applying the methods introduced, you can successfully become a master at picking all the common locks of today.

This book makes it easy and gives you the edge to quickly learn what it takes others years to gather. This book is a valuable addition to any collection and will open doors for you.

Not only does this book cover what tools and techniques are needed to pick most common locks, but it also goes through what to do step-by-step; and actually teaches you how to do it. It explains what all of the tools are and for what they are used. What really sets this book far above the competition, however, is the vast assortment of illustrations that make everything easy to understand. This really is a visual guide containing over 60 pages filled with diagrams and drawings that will instantly show you how locks work, and exactly what to do to bypass them. You can start learning today!

This book makes learning the art of lock picking fun and easy. You don’t have to waste your time guessing how it’s done, reading some amateur’s theories, or trying to learn from the movies. (They always get it wrong). Now, you can get accurate information that the professionals use. Their secrets have finally been revealed.

Inside, you will find sections about warded locks, pin tumblers, wafer tumblers, and more. These are the locks found on most residential and commercial doors, cars, padlocks, desks, filing cabinets, safes, equipment, vending machines, bike locks, etc… Each section includes a detailed and easy to understand explanation as to how that type of lock works. This book even outlines several exercises you can perform in order to improve your lock picking skills. You’ll be picking every lock in your house in no time.

Now, you can understand the technology that has kept thieves at bay for centuries. Even in the time of antiquity, within the halls of the great pyramids, tomb raiders found their untold riches behind surprisingly sophisticated locks. Today’s locks inherit these same principle designs. We give you the keys to their secrets.

How many times have you or someone you know been locked out? Now, you don’t have to be helpless in that situation while you wait and rely on some locksmith who is going to charge you a lot of money to do what you can do yourself. You don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances. The next time someone forgets their keys, you can be confident with the knowledge that you can help yourself and your friends and save a lot of money in the process.

This is the authoritative guide on lock picking. Even if you already know how to pick some locks, this book covers tips & techniques that you can use. This book is perfect for existing locksmiths, auto repossessors, and car dealers.

Whether you are interested in becoming a locksmith, need to know how to bypass security locks for your job in law enforcement or emergency services, interested in lock picking as a hobby, just want to be prepared in an emergency, or for whatever reason, this book will get you started off right!

Pick Guns: Lock Picking For Spies, Cops, And Locksmiths
Pick Guns: Lock Picking For Spies, Cops, And Locksmiths

This book tells how pick guns work and how to use them and traces their development from their inception to the revolutionary devices of today. Included are the original patents by Epstein, Segal, Moore, Cooke and others, as well as info on pick guns used by the FBI and intelligence agencies. Photos depict improvised devices made out of coat hangers and clothespins. For academic study only.

CIA Field-Expedient Key Casting Manual
CIA Field-Expedient Key Casting Manual

Learn how the CIA agent gets behind locked doors. This revised reprint of the classic CIA Key Casting Instruction Manual will teach you how to make a duplicate key when you can keep the original for only a short time. A step-by-step, self-checking guide, it gives you all the know-how you need to create accurate keys to gain access to off-limits areas with no special equipment.

Secrets Of Lock Picking
Secrets Of Lock Picking

Master locksmith Steven Hampton reveals here the tricks and tools for bypassing keyed and combination locks from pin tumbler locks, mushroom and spool pin tumbler locks, wafer tumbler locks, warded locks and disk tumbler locks to tubular cylinder locks, magnetic locks, door locks, padlocks and automobile locks. Find the key to “seeing” into every lock and discovering its simplicity.


This is a complete overview and practical guide to the locksmith profession. It begins with an introduction by Steve Lasky, editor and vice-president of publishing for Security Technician Magazine and Locksmith Ledger International. In Part 1, readers learn about the business, including how to train for it, become employed, find a niche, and advance toward higher certification. Part 2 is a skill-building reference focusing on techniques and technologies in this fast-growing and ever-changing trade. Coverage includes how to set up a small, one-person shop, outfit the business, masterkey locks, perform emergency services, and use locksmithing software. Appendices provide up-to-date reference to locksmithing terms, training, associations, suppliers, and publications.

Lock Picking Videos

Visual Guide to Lock Picking Video
Visual Guide to Lock Picking Video

The Visual Guide to Lock Picking is the definitive guide for learning the art of picking locks. This video explains several types of locks and picking techniques. Modern computer graphics and animations allow for cutaway views that were never before possible. This video not only makes lock picking possible, but clearly shows you how, so that you can get started today.

Quickly learn the secrets of the trade from this video’s concise, yet informative style. By practicing and applying the methods introduced here, it is possible to master the picking of most modern locks. The Visual Guide to Lock Picking introduces warded locks, pin tumblers, wafer tumblers, master locks, even some high security pins. It dissects the locks, showing every moving part, making it easy to see how they work. Step-by-step instructions are given for picking each type of lock. You will be lead through the entire process, introducing the necessary tools and covering several techniques leading you to that satisfying click as the lock springs open!

Lock Picking Information on CD-ROM

The Locksmith CD-ROM
The Locksmith CD-ROM

Learn the MOST effective Lock Picking techniques used by Locksmiths! “The Locksmith” CD Rom has over 45 minutes of interactive video clips. Easy to follow step by step video that will show you how to pick almost any type of lock!

To purchase lock picks, visit the Lockpicks page at Tactical Gear
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