How to Make a Homemade Lockpick Set

Picking locks isn't just for spies and burglars. It's a skill that can always come in handy, whether it's to get in your house after locking yourself out or just to show off to your friends at a party. Sure, you can improvise picks out of whatever hairpins or paper clips you have on hand, but to pick locks in the widest variety of situations, it's a good idea to make a small lock-picking kit. Ideally, your picks should be stainless steel, as paper clips and hairpins often are.

Person Opening Door Lock
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How to Make a Homemade Lockpick Set

Tension Wrench

A tension wrench is the backbone of the lock-picking kit. Before you even put the pick in a keyhole, you'll need a tension wrench to apply slight pressure to the bottom of the hole on a pin tumbler lock, which is the most common type of lock used on house doors. Remember, when you're picking a lock, apply this pressure in the direction you'd turn a key, and err on the side of putting too little pressure rather than too much. If you have a bobby pin, you can make a tension wrench by simply bending the entire pin into an L-shape. Any small piece of strong metal can work similarly; you can even make a tension wrench from a windshield wiper.

Hook Pick

If you don't want to purchase a hook pick, you can easily make one by separating the two sides of a bobby pin, removing the rubber from the tip of the straight side, and giving it a slight bend at the end by pulling it while it's in the lock. You can then bend the crimped side in to make a "handle" to manipulate the hook pick with. Use the hook pick to feel each individual pin, and pick the stiffest pin first.

Rake Pick

The hook pick is used for picking individual pins at a time while the tension wrench turns the "key," but if you can use a rake pick on a lock, it's often faster and easier. A rake has several crimps in it, so instead of adjusting one pin at a time, you can massage the rake in the lock in a sweeping motion to adjust the pins. This works best when the pins are the same size. To make your own rake pick, straighten a large paper clip, then use needle-nose pliers to add two crimps to the end of the wire. Fashion the other end into a handle.