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How to Pick a Combination Lock with a Paperclip?

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to pick a combination lock with a paperclip

Learning how to pick a combination lock with a paperclip is for desperate moments when your key suddenly goes missing and you need to get inside the house. A couple of paperclips and a few other necessary tools will save the day.

It may not look so nice to do, but it often gets the job done, so using paperclips is certainly the best thing you can do in such situations. All you need is to collect the relevant materials then start picking the lock to open it after a few minutes.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial


If you want to do successful combination lock picks with a small paperclip, here are the overall basic steps to complete the work. You can read the step by step instructions below to fully understand what you need to do for this task in detail.

  • Preparing Necessary Tools
  • Picking The Door Lock

How to Pick a Combination Lock with a Paperclip Step By Step Instructions


Step 1 – Collect Required Materials

Most items you need for lock picking with a paperclip are easy to get. There are only 3 necessary items to collect for this task: a couple of paperclips — one to pick the lock, the other to work as a tension wrench, and pliers for paperclip shaping.

In terms of the paperclips, there is no specific limit for their upper size. But you need to ensure their width is not too slim that it fits inside the lock. The height should be tall enough so there is still length left to hold onto and turn after inserting.

Meanwhile, the pair of pliers are meant for shaping your two paperclips because it will be easier and more precise to use pliers than your hands for this shaping.

Step 2 – Unfold Your First Paperclip Into The Lock Pick

In order to complete this step, find the large edge of the paperclip and unfold it twice. You will see a straight portion jutting out afterward. Insert this straight part into the door lock for it to act as the effective paper clips lock pick.

This is not a strictly necessary tip, but you might still want to know it: You may find some locksmiths bending a tiny upward angle on the tip of this pick. As they do this, it will help depress the pins inside the door lock and lessen the hassle during use.

Step 3 – Create The Tension Wrench

Use the other paperclip and take out both bends until it becomes two straight wires having a curve at its end. Take a wrench and press this curved end down. It is best to bend the curved end to 90° and around 0.4 inches in length.

Step 4 – Insert The Tension Wrench Into The Keyhole’s Bottom

This is the first step to picking a lock with a paperclip. The keyhole’s bottom is known as the shear line. You will use the newly made tension wrench to apply enough pressure here in a rotational manner, which is the way your lock turns.

You will have to practice a bit to get a suitable amount of pressure for this stage. Too much pressure may lead to twisting the paperclip out of its current shape, and too lightly is not strong enough for you to successfully pick the lock.

Step 5 – Turn The Wrench In The Same Direction The Lock Goes

You may not be certain which way the lock turns, but the most important thing is to turn your tension wrench in the right direction. There are several helpful ways for you to test the lock to see the direction that its key would turn.

If you are already aware of which way this door lock turns, turn your tension wrench in the same direction to open it. What if you have no idea about its opening direction? You will have a 50% chance of opening this lock on your first attempt.

Try to turn the tension wrench clockwise first, then the other way around. The right direction will give less pressure.

Step 6 – Insert The Pick Into The Keyhole’s Upper Part To “Rake”

Inserting the pick to the keyhole’s back, then removing it fast while jiggling your pick in an upward direction is “raking”. You may need to repeat this move a few times so that you can potentially set some pins inside.

It is advised to keep adding pressure on the tension wrench as you rake since the lock picking will not work out well without pressure. And removing it quickly does not mean yanking the pick out, but you should do it fast enough for smooth motion.

Step 7 – Locate Your Pins Inside Your Lock

As you keep pressure on your tension wrench, you should try using the pick to locate the pins inside your keyhole. The majority of locks in the US have a minimum number of 5 pins that need setting to successfully open up the lock.

When you insert the lock pick, you will feel the pins against it. This lets you know where you need to depress the pins inside this lock for the next step.

Step 8 – Depress Your Pin

While you are depressing the pins, make sure you apply a sufficient amount of rotational pressure to the tension wrench. After setting the pins to the unlocked position, you will sense a slight give, or sometimes even a little clicking sound.

If you see a swift motion in pins depressing, it is highly likely done by experienced lock pickers. Inexperienced ones need extra deliberate motions for pin setting.

Step 9 – Jiggle The Picks Till Each Pin Unlocks

The last step is to add more pressure to your tension wrench, as well as jiggling the pick until each of the pins unlocks. Hearing either a snap or click means you will need to rotate your tension wrench to unlock the combination lock.


Hopefully, you now know how to pick a combination lock with a paperclip. I know how to pick a door lock with a paperclip so that I will always be prepared for the worst circumstances.

Don’t hesitate to express what you think in the comment section and share the article to friends and family so they know about this precious information as well. Thank you for reading.

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