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How To Pick Locks - In Three Months

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

How To Pick Locks - In Three Months

One lock picker's journey to Lock Picking Excellence


What can you achieve with lock picking? How long will it take you to learn how to pick a lock? Will you be like Houdini? Can you perform the world's greatest heist? Let's do this!

These questions come at me daily, and that's understandable, people want to know the reality of their purchase. So without further ado, I will attempt to give you some realistic answers regarding what YOU might be able to achieve should you decide to journey into this remarkable - and thankfully still relatively dark - art of lock picking. We are an elite breed, and you're welcome to join today!

The exquisite Multipick 17pc set. Designed and manufactured on site in Germany. A set of quality picks like these will last for years and serve all your Single Pin Picking needs.

Let's assume you've never picked, bumped or bypassed a lock in your life. Well, with a decent set of picks, a practice lock (clear or cut-away - still the best way to learn) and our eBook about Single Pin Picking (SPP) you're good to go. Add to that three months practicing for a couple of hours a day - and I think it's fair to say you'll be able to pick about 80% of all pin cylinder locks. Now, considering the majority of front doors are locked with a simple pin cylinder, by doing all this, you just walked effortlessly into the home of literally billions of people on the planet. Sounds good? It is, and it gets better.


This perfectly machined cut-away is made from a real good quality BKS lock, rather than some cut-aways that are manufactured as cut-aways and don't really give you the 'feel' of a real lock.

Once you've learned SPP to the kind of level where only sever anti-pick features are going to stop you, there's all manner of other techniques to learn. In fact, most of these you'll have learned on the way, Bumping for instance, or latch shimming with MICA - now although these techniques won't open as many locks as SPP - it will open the ones it can - MUCH faster. Bumping can open a lock in seconds, MICA in about 30. On the way, pick up other ideas, tips, and techniques. Be open to ideas and absorb them. 

My very own patterns, the masters of which we still cut our Bump Keys from today. Note the different patterns on the blade, each offering a subtle but significant different response in the pins. Also note the missing shoulder, allowing for the use of Dampeners.

Familiarise yourself with the way different lock types work. Immerse yourself in knowledge; knowledge is power, after all.

Then there's things like Raking and Pick Guns - electric and manual. Both super fast techniques that will increase your range, ability and skill even further.

Let's look at the Dutch, many times World Champion lock picker, Jos Weyers. When Jos came to London many years ago to demonstrate impressioning to a few members of the then UK BUMP KEYS forum, he told me he locked himself in a room with a lock, a file, a grip, and 1000 blank keys. This is why he can now impression almost any lock in about 1 minute. If you're prepared to practice a particular technique to that kind of level, expect similar results yourself with whatever chosen technique.

Jos Weyers - locked in a room with a lock, a file, a key grip and a 1000 blanks. That's how he can now impression locks in under a minute! Such specialisation is an option, but not necessary at the start of your journey - but always an option.

Take me and bumping. I revolutionized the way bump keys work. I removed the shoulder and replaced it with a Dampener. This meant you no longer had to reset the key each time you wanted to make a bumping attempt. In short, rather than set the key, strike the key, fail, remove the key, set the key, strike, etc (YAWN!) you can now - with a Dampener - repeatedly strike the key like a woodpecker on speed - until the lock opens. That's about 20 strikes per second at my last utterly unscientific measuring session. I have become very good at bumping. If a lock can bump, I'll bump it. I can also make a bump key for pretty much any lock with a couple of small files and a blank - in around 5 minutes.

Now, that's on top of your three months SPP practice, and not entirely necessary. Most people find they have a specialist skill that they like more than the rest, but you do not have to get obsessive like me and Jos did - it's totally fine to stick with SPP and grow at a more sensible pace.

Like this 'Reflection' set from Sparrows, there are many dedicated Rakes, each offering something different and increasing your skills.

So we have the general techniques you should know: SPP, Raking, Shimming. And then all manner of other techniques like Impressioning, Electric Pick Guns, and more. Specialist locks like tubular locks, disc detainers, and vehicle locks all have dedicated picks that will work wonders if you know how. Most people will pick these skills up as they proceed.

Even something as simple as raking - which if you don't know involves the application of turning pressure, then the dragging of a tool (a 'rake' designed for this purpose) over the pins back and forward - even that can be developed to a more advanced stage. Look out for our new Polaris Advanced Rake set coming in a week or two.


The bottom line is the amount of time you put in will be reflected in the skills you develop and the locks you can open. Here's my advice on the best way forward for anyone wanting to walk through walls and who is starting from scratch.

  • Get a decent set of picks and a clear practice lock
  • Read our eBook on Single Pin Picking and PRACTICE
  • Learn about Raking and get some dedicated Rakes
  • Familiarise yourself with Bumping, Mica, Tubular locks
  • Hook up with other pickers on Twitter, Facebook, and Forums
  • Learn to Impression locks
  • Learn how lever locks work and pick some lever padlocks
  • Learn how Lever locks work and start picking
  • Walk through walls

In truth, lock picking is simple - not always easy - but certainly not rocket science. The information, the locks and the tools are available. You just need to add a bit of time and effort, and in three months - in my honest opinion, you'll be able to pick most of the locks used around most domestic properties: The doors, the padlocks, bike locks, cabinets, desks, post boxes, and more. 

Be confident, apply yourself, ask questions, and become super skilled in this wonderful art. Best of luck!

Chris Dangerfield.

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