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What is a False Set Lock Picking? – Explained for Beginners

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

what is a false set lock picking

What is a false set lock picking? If you have tried lockpicking, you might have experienced having a false set. A false set happens when one of the pins inside the lock gets stuck right above the shear line, giving you an impression that you have successfully picked the lock, when in reality, it is still secure.

A false set usually happens when you have a spool pin lock or mushroom pin lock. When a false set occurs, you can see that the keyhole is turned a couple of degrees and gets stuck when you put pressure on your tension tool.

What is a False Set in Lockpicking?

A false set happens when the lock plug seems like it’s going to open but it’s not. Instead, it is still blocked from rotating by a pin, such as a mushroom or spool pin as mentioned above, or maybe a T-pin.

Refer to this video for more details:

Tips to Avoid Lock Picking False Set


Technically, there isn’t a way to avoid having to lock pick false set. You must familiarize yourself with how your pins feel (how loose or tight they are) and how to press or get them to the shear line.

Here are some tips that you can follow to clear a false set:

1. Probe each pin.

Use a tensioner and protractor to see the neutral zone of the lock. The tensioner will move past the neutral zone when it’s in a false set. This usually happens once you’ve picked all the standard pins.

At this point, you have to probe the key pins until you get a counter rotation, which will help determine the spool pin or the one with the false set.

2. Set the false set pin.

A false gate lock will make you feel that a pin has been set, even though it has not. This makes it easier for you to locate the pin with the false set, as there won’t be much wiggling from this part.

Set the spool pin and apply pressure on it. This step will ensure that the pins are not stuck while entering the shear line.

3. Reset the pins.

Sometimes, the pins may drop and you have to reset them. It might be a hassle, but this is one of the best ways to ensure that the pins will not go into a false set when you are going to pick them again.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the different types of lockpicks?

Depending on the lock security pin types that you want to pick, there are different types of lockpicks and techniques that you have to know and learn to effectively do the picking process.

According to, picking a lock with safety pins or pin tumblers often needs picks and hooks that have thin bodies to fit inside the keyway. Here are different types of lockpicks for picking pin tumblers:

  1. Tension wrench (lock pick set instructions for wafer locks may mention this tool as well)
  2. Half diamond pick
  3. Hook pick
  4. Ball pick
  5. Rake pick
  6. Decode pick
  7. Bump key

Locks with a wafer tumbler locking mechanism are simpler than pin tumbler locks and are common on lockers and cabinets. Here are different types of lockpicks for bypassing wafer tumblers:

  1. Jigglers or try-out keys
  2. Pick guns
  3. Tubular lock picks

How do I know if my pin is set lockpicking?

When you are practicing picking a lock with safety pins, you can opt for a clear padlock to watch the pins going up or down. You will know your pins are set if you see them go above the shear line and not move down.

However, when in actual lockpicking situations where you pick a standard lock, you cannot see the pins. You will know that a security pin in a lock is set in this situation if you press on it with your hook and the only force you get is from the spring. There will often be a rattle sound as well.


If you want to try lock picking techniques, you should be ready to experience a false set. Knowing the answer to the question “what is a false set lock picking” is one of the essential parts of becoming good at bypassing locks.

So, the next time you encounter a false set, you will know what it is and what to do next. Share this with your friends and family to help them with their lockpicking journey.

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