How to Pick a Lock With Hairpins

this video will show how a standard pin

and tumbler lock

can be picked with hair pins just like

it's been done in nearly every spy movie

ever made

the first thing we need to learn is how

these locks work

in a pin and tumbler lock like this

which is the most common type of lock in

use today

a series of pins cut at different

lengths prevent the barrel of the lock

from turning unless each pin is pressed

up to the exact right height

the grooves cut into the key are a

unique match lifting each pin

just enough for a split in their center

to align with the edge of the lock's


allowing it to turn to open this lock

without the key

i need to make two simple tools the

actual pick that i will use to

manipulate the pins

and also a small lever that will allow

me to apply rotational pressure to the


to begin with the pick a hairpin is bent

open until the ends are about 90 degrees


the bit of rubber on the straight side

of the pin needs to be removed which is

pretty easily done with your teeth if

there are no tools present

the end of the pick now needs a slight

bend which can be done by pushing it

into the lock itself

and applying pressure like so

the last improvement that can be made is

to bend the other half of the hairpin

into a bit of a handle

which will make the pick a lot easier to


now making the lever that will turn the

lock is extremely simple

and just involves bending a pin as shown

so it can be inserted into the keyhole

causing pressure on the arm to translate

into rotational force on the lock

now we're ready to actually begin

picking and our lever is inserted into

the lower side of the keyhole leaving

enough room for the pick to be inserted


the first step is to put tension on the

lever with one hand so that the barrel

of the lock is under pressure to turn

it of course can not turn because the

pins are in the way and cause the barrel

to seize

but it's precisely this friction between

the pins and the barrel that i'll be

taking advantage of

keeping tension on the barrel the pick

is inserted and the first thing to

notice is that even though the lock is

under pressure

some of the pins still move up and down

freely because of inherent imperfections

in all locks only one or two pins will

ever bind against the barrel at the same


for now the pins that easily raise and

fall can be ignored

and our focus should be on finding one

that is currently seized

seized pins can be identified by one at

a time feeling each pin with the end of

the pick

pressing them up slightly and letting

them fall again

when we find a seized pin it will behave


being much harder to push up than the

rest assuming you are keeping constant

pressure on the lever this whole time

once the first seized pin is found which

just happens to be the third pin in this


it is very slowly and carefully forced


eventually the split in the seized pin

will align with the edge of the barrel

and there should be an audible click

the click is the sound of the barrel

suddenly being allowed to rotate

forward very slightly before hitting and

seizing on one of the other pins

since the barrel has been allowed to

slightly rotate it prevents the pin we

just worked on from falling

and at the same time a new seized pin

has been created

which can be identified and treated the

same as the first

as each seized pin is successively

identified by feeling it with the end of

the pick

and the tension on it is released by

aligning its gap with the edge of the


it causes one of the remaining pins to

then become seized

until every pin has finally been aligned

and the lock

opens if once you believe

every pin has been dealt with you find

that the lock still does not open

there's a good chance that one of the

pins was pressed too high

and its gap is above the edge of the

lock's barrel

if this happens there's a chance that

reducing the tension on the lever will

cause the offending pin to fall into

alignment and allow the lock to open

but it may also allow other pins to fall

which could require starting over

in this video i used a transparent

practice lock so you could see what i'm

doing on camera

and there are a number of other practice

locks like this that can be purchased


for this skill to be of any use in a

real situation though

it's important to be able to identify

and adjust seized pins by feel and sound


as real locks don't usually come with

transparent sides

both of the tools that i made in this

video could also potentially be formed

out of a single hairpin by breaking it

in half

but doing so would not leave enough

extra to bend a handle for the pick

and would also result in a lever only

half as long

because of these things using an

individual pin for each tool

as i demonstrated here is far easier

than trying to use just

one but it is possible with enough


this project was made in part as a

collaboration with all time numbers who

have made their own video to go along

with this one

all time numbers is a brand new channel

from all time tens with quite a few

great videos out already

you can check them out by clicking on

the icon on screen now or through the

link in the video description below

if you'd like to see more of my own

videos you can find them on my youtube


nighthawk and light thanks for watching