DIY: Lock Picking Practice Set

finished project

Stuff, etc.

Beginners at picking locks will undoubtedly get frustrated if they hop strait to their front door and start wiggling stuff around. Most locks have too many pins to be good for someone learning how lock picking really works. In this article, I will show you how I removed a few pins from a door lock so that I could concentrate on learning this useful skill.

Those interested in learning to pick locks need a few things. First (and foremost) is practice, so here are the tools and supplies that I used.

Supplies Tools

Removing Pins

Hurray! We are ready to begin! First, I opened the lock and pulled out all the little parts.

Lock packaging removed

Now, looking at the actual lock (shown below), you can see a thin piece of metal on the top. Underneath it are the actual pins and springs, some of which I will need to remove, re-arrange, etc. The trick is to carefully pry it off (while avoiding crimping the springs if at all possible). Next, remove the extra springs/pins that you do not care to mess with, and cap it back up. You should probably then wrap the extra small pieces in folded numbered papers (by their order from the front) and put those into a plastic bag.

side view of lock     numbered pins in lock

In theory, at least, at this point it could be done. Your lock has the desired number of pins for you to practice with, so you could just clamp this to something and start practicing.

lock clamped to furniture

This is a big NO-NO. I believe my father decried it as "unacceptable abuse of good furniture". Unless you live all alone, you can probably expect someone to get annoyed if you decide do this. Besides, it doesn't look very cool yet!

Hence, the continuation of the article.

Setting the Lock

supplies laid out

If you thought the above section was easy then you have nothing left to fear. Besides giving you something solid to practice with, you will still be able to quickly change out pins as you graduate different combinations. Plus, you get to use power tools! :-)

Begin by tracing around the lock housing's outer surface. Don't worry about being too exact... this is only to help approximate where the lock will end up.

block with circle traced

Try and put an 'x' on the block where the lever behind the lock will go when the lock is seated in the housing. Use the circle you traced as a guide. Unless you are very lucky, it will be slightly off center, so do your best but realize that there will be some error in there. I used a caliper to get as close as possible and still ended up a smidgen off.

block with x

Also mark the point where the two mounting screws go into the lock's casing. Then, bore through all the holes, making sure to use appropriate sized bits (a caliper is very useful for this). The main hole needs to be big enough that everything can spin freely!

block with holes bored

From here, simply attach the lock as it was designed to be connected. I had to use some nuts to give enough room for the screws to fit in securely.

finished project: back      finished project: front

Congratulations! It's complete! Now you just have to practice. Once you feel that you have mastered a certain number of pins, unscrew the back, lift the top, and then add more pins or re-arrange existing ones. Easy, huh?

clamped okay

This does not constitute "abuse of furniture, since 1) it is clamped to a workbench and 2) there are no sharp metal pieces to dig in. Much better!

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© 2005 Nic Reveles