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Article by Steve Arnold "Introduction to Lock Picking" (An Introduction To Lock Picking)

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Статья Стива Арнольда Введение в Умение вскрывать замки

My interest in cracking locks is based on three things. Firstly, I was always amazed and somewhat envied by the characters from the films who could easily get into any room. The craftsmanship they possessed was always under the cover of secrecy, which made him even more attractive. And later I was very surprised that even with a simple set of tools, little knowledge and practice, almost anyone can open most of the locks.

I was also interested in all sorts of puzzles and riddles for a long time, which is also close to opening the locks (after all, a lock is the same mechanical mystery). Even when you fully understand the structure and operation of the lock, trying to open it without a key will require you to be very creative, focused and agile.

Here I would like to remind once again that an attempt to open the lock without the knowledge of the owner (especially if this is done for the purpose of illegal entry to someone else’s property) may lead you to the dock.

However, sometimes there are quite legal situations when it is necessary to open any door without a key (for example, if you have lost the key of your own door). In this case, it may be very unpleasant to break the door, causing unwanted damage and subsequent repair. Whereas, with little time and patience, most ordinary internal locks can be easily opened.

In this article I want to describe a popular type of lock with a cylinder pin-type mechanism. This type of locking mechanism is found throughout the world and is used both in padlocks and locks for interior doors. The illustrations in this article will help you figure out what parts a similar lock is made of and how these parts can be manipulated. Keep in mind that you can ruin the castle as a result of your experiments, so I strongly recommend that you stock up on this old and already unnecessary lock. In addition, in the old castle you can safely change the sequence of pins, which will allow you to increase your skill.


Mechanical locks have been around for thousands of years. Previously, the locks belonged only to rich people, but were very simple in design and, in comparison with modern locks, very easy to open.

Mass production of door locks began in the early 18th century. As the construction of the locks became more complex, an engineer named Jo-zeph Brahmac invented, as they had stated, an unexlockable lock. In 1767, this castle was presented in a shop window with the statement that the first person to open this castle would receive 200 guineas. Since the lock had almost 500 million key combinations, it is not surprising that no one has been able to do this for 64 years!

Public interest increased as the struggle between factory and handicraft production of castles increased. In the middle of the 19th century, the door lock market expanded rapidly, and each company fought for its market share, claiming that they produced the most reliable mechanism. Talented locksmiths invented increasingly reliable mechanisms. So the name Jeremy Chubba is associated with his wonderful version of the lever lock, the most common now in mortise locks.

A.S. Hobbs was an American mechanic who came to England to "make a name for himself." At that time there was a great rivalry between American and English manufacturers of locks. The arena for their ba-tali was, of course, London, and it was there that Hobbs arrived to establish himself. At first, he "attacked" Chubb's castle, opening it quickly and with visible ease, much to the fright of the company that produced it. Then everything was prepared for Hobbs to try to open the famous castle of Joseph Bramah. Hobbs worked on the castle, being under constant surveillance, 44 hours for 10 days. Finally, the lock was opened, and Hobbs could repeatedly close and open it repeatedly. ASHobbs became famous and flourished in this country as a wonderful fitter.

Locks and security had a great public interest and had great importance in the art of escapology, which was formed in the popular passion of the time. Escapeology is the art of getting out of handcuffs, tightly closed rooms, etc. Harry Houdini was one of the most famous masters of this art. At that time, the opening of locks became quite legal entertainment and ceased to be the prerogative of locksmiths or criminal elements.


The lock of this type consists of the case and the internal cylinder. Several holes located along the body coincide with the corresponding holes in the cylinder. This allows the rods, which are located inside the housing, to fall into adjacent holes in the cylinder. The rods are supported by springs, so that when the key is not inserted into the locking mechanism, they automatically slide into the cylinder and prevent its rotation.


When the correct key is inserted into the locking mechanism, the rods are placed in a position that allows the cylinder to turn inside the case. This movement leads to locking or unlocking the lock.


The key inserted into the lock advances the rods until their upper surface is level with the outer surface of the cylinder. The key does not directly touch the rods, but its profile is transmitted to the rods through pins. Each pin may be different in length to reflect the key profile. As a result, the pins fill the wavy key profile, allowing all the rods to line up with the outer surface of the cylinder.

This type of lock is preferably made of soft non-ferrous metal, such as brass. Quality locks can have six or more sets of rods / pins. The rods can be of different designs to improve the reliability of the lock. Standard rods are cut from a round bar and have a straight cylindrical shape. In order to complicate the opening of such locks, sometimes some rods have the shape of a mushroom or the shape of the letter "I". Cheaper locks or old locks with well-worn mechanisms are more likely to be opened.


For the manipulation of the lock requires two types of tools. The first is called the "rotator" (an approximate translation from English Tension Wrench) and is designed to apply a rotational force on the moving part of the lock. The second tool is the actual master key, which is necessary for setting the pins in the required position.

The rotator is inserted into the bottom of the key slot and has a 90 degree bend at the base to form the handle. This allows you to apply a slight but constant rotational force to the lock cylinder.

The master keys come in a variety of designs, depending on the applied autopsy technique. Fine keys with thin or dotted ends are used to act on individual pins. Those that have bulging or rounded ends are used for methods of acting on several pins (see the section below on the autopsy technique). The master key must be thin and narrow so that it can be inserted over the rotator and reach the pins.


The third tool, which can also often be used, is a broken key extractor. There are several types of tools that pull out key fragments and release a key hole.


Whichever method is used, you first need to insert a rotator into the bottom of the key slot. Then a slight lateral pressure is applied, i.e. rotational motion applied to the lock cylinder. You must be careful to apply this movement in the right direction - in the direction of unlocking the lock. At first glance, this seems obvious, but, unfortunately, the right direction is not always known, and the wrong way will lead to wasted time.

Impact on single pins.

While a small load is applied to the cylinder, the rods are clamped between the cylinder and the body along the line of their connection. The rods and pins are most often manufactured with a small tolerance in size, and together with wear this leads to a difference in the thickness of these parts. This means that at least one of the pins will be clamped more tightly along the line between the cylinder and the body than the others. Using a master key with a dotted end, you need to touch all the pins to determine the one that is pressed more than the rest. Then you need to press on this pin until you feel a slight rotational movement of the cylinder. While the pin, pressing down on the rod, lowers it to the line of junction between the cylinder and the body, the cylinder turns slightly and clamps the next most tight pin / rod.

The same operation is performed with each rod, while the rotator must always be under load. Each time a rod is selected that is most tightly pressed. When all the pins are lowered to the desired level, the cylinder will turn and act on the lock mechanism.


This is a very neat method that requires great dexterity. Remember, only practice will help you comprehend it!

Impact on multiple pins.

This method uses a master key with a rounded end, for passing along the pins. During this passage, the master key raises and lowers the pins / rods and at the moment when the surface of one of the most tightly seated rods is aligned with the line of the inner surface of the body, the cylinder turns slightly, etc.

I find this method random and not very efficient, working mainly on old worn locks.


In order to make such locks more difficult to break, new types of rods were invented. Usually two rods in the lock are made in the shape of the letter "I" .


These devices give a false movement, when using the method of a single exposure, which greatly complicates the process of opening the lock.

In this case, more applicable method of exposure to several pins.

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