Monday, June 8, 2009

Lock Picking and Lock Bumping

I've practiced lock picking for my own enjoyment for several years, and on a couple of occasions it has proven to be a worthwhile skill.

Cheap lockpicking kits are available online, but I'd advise you to save your money. Quality ones are expensive, and why shell out the dough when you can roll your own?

Lock picks and tension wrenches are easily made, and you have control over the quality. As you progress in your lockpicking skill sets, you will find modifying your tools to suit your own unique style will be necessary and helpful. These modifications will increase the speed at which you are able to pick a lock, and your physical comfort.

Sites giving "how-to" demonstrations on lockpicking are all over the web. YouTube has many good quality videos. However, lockpicking is like shooting, it is a skill that is best honed with practice. Just watching the videos will give you a good idea of what needs to be done, and how, but without that "hands on" experience, it's just like reading the manual for a rifle. You know all the mechanics and theory, but you have no practical experience.

Check out this blog, HIR Information Report. He has a three part (part one, part two, part three) series on making your own picks out of commonly available materials. Forget the whole "bobby pin" lock picking mythos. Yes, it can be done, but many times the bobby pin is too thick, especially with its plastic coating. Take the time to construct your own tools. You will be intimately familiar with them which is a big plus.

I highly recommend building a "bogota rake". I've found "raking" to be easiest way to open most padlocks. Raking can be accomplished with nearly any style pick, but this one tool makes the task much quicker.

So definitely grab an old Master Lock padlock, and start practicing.

"Bumping locks" is similar to traditional lockpicking. In both instances, what one is attempting to do is cause the key pins (red) to raise the driver pins (blue) to the shear line (area between the green and yellow cylinders) where the lock core (yellow) will turn thus opening the lock.

Imagine watching the key inserted into the lock above, and one can visualize how the pins move up and down as the peaks and valleys on the key's edge slide below them. The key and driver pins are of different length, and one can see how the key must have just the correct height on the key pins to get the driver pins to line up at the shear line.

In lockpicking, what one tries to do is apply a rotational force (tension) to the core while trying to individually move, with a pick, each key and driver pin into proper position. You can actually "feel" a slight movement as each pin lines up correctly with the shear line.

In lock bumping what one is trying to do is get all of the driver pins to bounce at once, and turn the core when all of the driver pins are above the shear line.

Have you ever had a lock where a key sort of worked, but you had to jiggle it just right to get it to unlock? You may have been bumping the lock without even knowing it.

A bump key is constructed in such a way that pushing the key into the lock will cause an impact on the bottom of the key pins. That impact force is then transferred to the driver pins causing them all to jump. The object for the user is to apply just enough tension to the key to turn it as the driver pins are all above the shear line.

If you're having difficulty imagining what is happening when a lock is bumped, do this. Take a stack of checkers or bottle caps and put them on a table. Now, slam your hand down on the table next to them. See how they all bounce up in the air? Well, that is kind of what is happening to the pins inside the lock. Imagine the table top is your key pin, and the checkers or bottle caps are your driver pins. The table doesn't move, just the checkers or bottle caps.

Download this document with printable common bump key profile templates, and this one with more detailed information on lock bumping techniques for high security locks.

Additional Sites Of Interest:

The Open Locksport Guide

Locksport International

Additional Download:

Locksport International Guide To Lockpicking


Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Makes drumming seem like child's play...ha!

Man, you always got the BEST INFO...
um, purely for educational purposes, I'm sure!haha!
Thanks, man!

Catman said...

Hey Cygnus,

You never know when you may need these talents. There isn't anything illegal with lockpicking as long as you own the locks or have permission from the owner to pick the lock.

Check out the Locksport International page. I think they have a chapter near you. Who would ever have thought that lockpicking would become a hoppy and a sport?

Catman said...

hoppy = hobby, sorry

Bullseye said...

Catman, I love this post buddy. These are skills that are going to be much needed after the crash. People who are either dead or bugged out will have tons of things that no longer have keys. That locker or strong box that you just found or that someone has brought to you may have much needed supplies inside. One that can open locks such as these will be a very sought after individual. A great skill to have both now and then. Great links too, thanks.

Code Name "Bullseye"

ErinAndBrad said...

Okay, you gone and done it now Cat - hubster just went out to the tool box and got his lock-picking set and a padlock to "warm-up" again! LOL! Been alonmg time - thanks for the blog and the reminder to stash these little gadgets with the preps!

lock bumping said...

Public service site about lock bumping. They provide information on how to protect yourself from lock bumping and lock bumping keys.