A padlock is a handy gadget. It can keep your bicycle in one place, restrict access to a fence gate or shed with a key, or combination that only you have. While the procedure is something that many people learn as children, a padlock can be confusing when approaching it for the first time. Although there are many different brands of padlocks there are essentially three styles of locks. The key lock, is simply that, it opens with a key, just like your front door. A dial combination lock is opened by turning a dial to align numbers in a specific sequence. A multiple dial combination lock has numbered tumblers that must be aligned to unlock it.

There are key, dial combination and multiple dial combination padlocks.

Key Locks

Step 1

Tilt the lock up and inspect the key way. If your lock is equipped with a cover over the key way, push it to the side to reveal the slot. Brush any dirt or moisture from the lock to prevent it sliding up with the key into the lock.

Step 2

Position the key with the flat edge of the key's blade aligned with the flat at the top of the key way. Insert the key all the way in until the notch at the bottom of the blade is against the face of the lock key way.

Step 3

Turn the key clockwise about half way, while pushing up slightly on the shackle, or curved metal bolt at the top of the lock. Wait for the hasp to spring free, then pull down to release it from the lock. Turn the lock body toward you and thread the hasp of the lock out of the hasp, or chain.

Dial Combination locks

Step 4

Get the combination for the lock. Attempting to guess, unless it has been reset to a number you would know is very time consuming since there are over 64,000 possibilities on a standard combination lock. This number is typically three digits. If the lock is unlocked, consult the maker for instructions on resetting. Every brand is different.

Step 5

Turn the lock dial twice to the right, then turn to the first number of the combination, turning the dial right and stopping on the number. Turn back left to the second number and stop. Turn right to the third number and press in slightly on the hasp. Wait for it to spring up, then pull down to release it.

Step 6

Press up on the shackle at the top of the lock and wait for it to spring open. Swing the lock body to you and slide the curved hasp, or lock bolt from the latch or chain to remove it.

Multi Dial Combination Locks, or Cable Locks

Step 7

Get the combination for the lock. Even with only three tumblers, there are 1,000 possible combinations. If the lock is unlocked, most are resettable to a new combination. Consult the lock maker for instructions if you do not have them, as each lock is different.

Step 8

Turn the lock so that the numbers are face up. Turn the first tumbler on the left to the first number of the combination. Turn the second tumbler to its number and so on, until you have aligned all tumblers.

Step 9

Push up lightly to release the hasp and allow it to spring free. Turn the lock body toward you and remove the lock.