How to Pick a Door Lock: Pin-and-Tumbler Deadbolts

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How do locksmiths pick a pin-and-tumbler dead bolt?

How to Pick a Door Lock: Pin-and-Tumbler Deadbolts

In a pin-and-tumbler dead bolt lock, your door key will push the pins so that all of the pins line up correctly. In order to pick this type of lock, each pin pair will need to be moved one by one into the correct alignment. The two main tools needed for this lock-picking process are picks and tension wrenches. Picks are long, skinny pieces of metal which curve up on the end, comparable to a dental pick. A pick will help a locksmith get inside the lock and push the pins. Tension wrenches are simple devices, similar to a flathead screwdriver, but they are available in various shapes and sizes.
The initial step in lock-picking is to slide the tension wrench inside the keyhole and rotate it in the direction the key would normally be turned. While applying force with the wrench, a pick should be inserted into the keyhole in order to raise the pins. When the pin falls correctly, you should hear a small click. After all the pins are in place, the lock is able to open.
A less exact procedure for picking deadbolts is called raking and involves inserting a wide-tipped pick through the entire length of the cylinder. The rake is quickly removed in order to move the pins up, while you use a tension wrench to turn the lock. Since some of the pins will fall, many locksmiths will rake a lock then proceed with picking any troublesome pins one by one.
While these techniques seem simple in concept, locksmiths train extensively to master how to pick a door lock and also to develop their lock-picking instincts. Additionally, certain pin-and-tumbler locks have mushroom-shaped pin heads that make it trickier to position the pins and feel out the lock.

   

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