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Here some helpful facts about the secret world of lock-picking deadbolts:
• Locksmiths spend a lot of time training for their profession and learning how to pick a door lock is indispensable so they will know how to open a lock without damaging it.
• Although surprising, picking a lock is not a typical burglar's first choice for breaking into your home. This is primarily because of faster and easier techniques like breaking a window or kicking in the door. It is most likely a spy or private detective who would take the time to pick a lock.
• Just like there are computer hackers, there are also lock hackers. They pick locks for the challenge and for enjoyment, even though it is against the law and immoral. These lock hackers risk being arrested for serious breaking-and-entering charges.
• A basic understanding of lock-picking makes it clear that normal locks are not without their flaws, since they can be cracked with negligible effort. Armed with the know-how and the right tools, a resolute prowler can break almost any lock. There are even electric pick guns which can open a dead bolt in seconds, although they can be flaky depending on the lock.
• In the event your lock is picked, an affordable door alarm that sounds when the door opens could be beneficial.
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.
After choosing a deadbolt that complements your design style and provides the level of safety needed, it's time to put in the new hardware. Installing deadbolts is very similar to installing door handlesets or handle locks, except that a dead bolt is installed higher up on the door. One crucial thing to take your time doing is the marking your drill holes, as you don't want to mess up your door.
Step 1: Mark up a dead bolt template using the one included by the manufacturer with your dead bolt or make your own. The important thing is that your hole in the door face and the hole on the door edge match up correctly. It's always a good idea to double-check your measurements.
Step 2: Drill holes in the door, following any instructions provided by the dead bolt manufacturer. Usually, you want to drill the door face holes first, and then drill the latch hole. You may need a spade drill bit and a hole saw to cut a clean, smooth hole.
Step 3: It is now time to installing your dead bolt lock and the latch plate. If done correctly, the dead bolt will slide easily into the latch plate providing more security for your home.
When you're locked out of your home, a trained locksmith can probably open your dead bolt rather quickly. Even though locksmiths know how to pick a door lock, they may recommend other options such as re-keying a lock. Pin-and-tumbler deadbolts have the handy feature of being able to be reconfigured with a new key that is made for the same lock design. This allows you to add more locks in your home without adding more keys.
If you want to make a brand new key for an existing dead bolt, you can start by cutting the key blank with a pattern that matches the positions of the pins. You can also make a lock fit an old key by aligning the pin pattern to the notches of the key. A locksmith can quickly re-key locks featuring a universal keying system, but many hardware stores offer lock re-keying as well.
Deadbolts are not only offered in a wide range of decorative metal finishes and design styles, they also have different internal components to consider. A dead bolt houses a cylinder mechanism whereby pins create a unique lock and key combination. There are several different kinds of dead bolt locks to choose from:
• Single cylinder deadbolts feature an exterior keyed lock, but have only a turn piece on the inside of the door.
• Double cylinder deadbolts have keyed locks on both the exterior and interior of the door. This type of lock provides extra peace of mind when your door is close to a window or sidelight that can be shattered.
• One-sided deadbolts have no exterior lock, just the interior piece. Sometimes called a keyless dead bolt, these are an additional level of personal protection at home.
• Vertical deadbolts are variations on the normal dead bolt and are installed above a door to strengthen it against being pried open.
Usually when your dead bolt is not engaging properly, it is most likely due to a misalignment of the lock and door frame. Wood-frame homes can settle and move over the years, shifting door frames so that deadbolts and strike plates get out of kilter.
In order to remedy this situation, tighten all the door hinges because loose screws can cause a door to hang down and miss their strike plate. If that doesn't work, you might try making adjustments to your strike plate to make the bolt fit again. To do this, you should first rub the bolt end with some chalk. Then turn the latch so that it leaves a chalk mark on the strike plate showing where the bolt hit. Remove the strike plate and use a metal file to widen the hole where the chalk was left. Now just put the strike plate back on and see if that worked. If not, you may need to do a little more filing.
Most of us carry keys almost everywhere we go, since we usually need them to gain access to our homes, cars, and offices. All these keys and locks give us a sense of security, but we all know that locks can also be easily manipulated. Locksmiths make a living by opening a lock without a key, or lock-picking as it is called. Before a locksmith can learn how to pick a door lock, they must first have an understanding of how locks and keys function.
A standard dead bolt makes use of a cylinder lock, which usually has a pin-and-tumbler design. This design gives deadbolts a unique pin-and-tumbler code that only the proper key (or lock picker) can break. The likelihood of someone having the same key as you is very low, due to the number of lock designs and manufacturers, and the fact that each lock has about a million possible pin combinations.
Pin-and-tumblers feature tiny pins of various different lengths laid out in pairs. When a key is inserted, the notched shapes of the key push up the pin pairs at varying levels. Only the correct key will line up the all the pin pairs with the shear line and free up the plug, allowing you to move the bolt. A locksmith will utilize picks, a tension wrench, and raking techniques to overcome pin-and-tumbler based deadbolts.
In addition to pin-and-tumbler dead bolt locks, there are also wafer tumbler and tubular locks to consider.
Wafer tumbler locks are cylinder-based locks that feature tumblers shaped like wafers instead of pins. It can be easier to pick this kind of lock because of a larger keyhole opening, although the basic lock-picking method is the same as with pin-and-tumbler sets. Wafer tumbler deadbolts usually have spring-loaded wafers with holes in their centers, through which only the right key will pass. Some wafer tumbler locks have pairs of wafers, called double wafer locks, which require both sides to be picked while pressure is applied with a tension wrench. Wafer locks are commonly used in cars, padlocks, lockers, and filing cabinets.
Tubular locks are pricier than wafer tumbler or pin-and-tumbler deadbolts, but they offer a more secure locking mechanism. These locks are harder to pick because they have pins all along the inside of the cylinder, rather than just a single row of pins. The standard procedures for picking a lock are generally not effective on tubular locks.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|