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How to Pick a Master Lock with a Paperclip in Seconds?

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to pick a master lock with a paperclip

The title sounds like it’s trying to guide you into being a real intruder. But it’s not! You cannot lie to me that you’ve never been in a situation where you left your keys in the house or lost them somewhere. My parents were at work, and I had to call and wait for the locksmith for an hour. It’s embarrassing and annoying, isn’t it?

Don’t worry! With some basic knowledge and more practice, you will be able to solve this problem. In today’s post, I’ll guide you through how to pick a master lock with a paperclip so you can arm yourself before the real problem hits. In short, there are three main sections:

  • Mechanism.
  • Step-by-step process.
  • Tips and tricks.


The Mechanism of Action of the Lock

To open a lock, you need to know its operating principle. Each master lock will be made up of three major parts: a set of pins, springs above, and a spindle where we insert the key. You can see that there are serrations on each key, each of those will fit into a pin. So, the more pins a lock has inside, the higher its security. These pins have different heights, that’s why each key has a different shape.

In the locked state, the upper and lower latches inside the lock are jumbled together, losing the shear line in the middle. When the key is inserted, the serrations on it assist in pushing the springs up, repositioning the pins, and recreating the shear line. We will use a paperclip to hook into the hole, pushing the pins up from this principle. At the same time, another paperclip will be used to rotate the spindle to turn the lock in the predetermined direction.

How to Pick a Master Lock with a Paperclip Step-by-Step Process


Step 1: Prepare tools

If you’re not a locksmith, it’s a waste to buy a lockpicking kit, then leaving it at home or always taking it with you.

Two paper clips: One will act as a wrench to apply pressure to the lower pins and turn the spindle. Meanwhile, the other will function as a pick to lift the pins and shape the paperclip.

A plier: Many people think that we do not really need this tool. However, I believe this will help you a lot in bending or straightening parts of the paperclip without hurting your hand.

Step 2: Reshape the paperclip

First, you need to use the plier to straighten the paperclip into a long metal bar.

Second, insert the paperclip into the keyhole about 1 centimeter. Then, push the rest of the paperclip to the left for about 45 degrees, which only requires a few millimeters of the tip. And that is how you make a pick.

Third, turn to the second paperclip, which works as the tension wrench. Now, use the plier to bend about one-fourth or third of the paper clip onto itself. Then, use the plier to flatten the loop that appears after you bend it. Take half of the piece you just assembled, including the piece that it was placed on, at 90 degrees to an L shape.

Step 3: Determine the rotation direction

Insert the wrench into the keyhole to test the flexibility of the spindle. Most of the spindles I know usually rotate clockwise. However, if the key does not move when rotating clockwise, then the direction of the spindle will be in the opposite direction.

After knowing the direction of rotation, leave the wrench as low as possible and as deep as possible. The important thing is that it should be right at the shear line. At this point, the wrench will act as a lever.

Step 4: Determine the position of the pins

Insert the pick into the deepest position to feel the height of the pins. All you need to do is turn the bent tip up to make contact with the pins. Make sure to apply enough force to the pins so that it aligns with the shear line for best results.

Repeat this step a few times slowly to make sure you hear the jingle from the springs of the pins. This is a vital step that many people can successfully unlock the first time.

Step 5: Push the pins up

In this step, make sure the wrench remains fixed at the shear line. Still, with the tip up, insert the pick. Then, start to find the first pin and push it up. All the pins will be on the top half of the lock, so focus on putting the tension on that part. To be able to push the pin, you need to shake the pick until it clicks into place gently.

And to know if it fits correctly or not, you need to pay attention to hear the “click” sound. This sound occurs when your pin is detached and no longer blocks the spindle.

There will be a few pins that are hard to move but don’t worry. Try again and incorporate turning the wrench a little bit to find the right pin joint. This can be the key step that takes a lot of patience and practice.

Step 6: Continue with the remaining pins

After the first pin is released, your spindle should now rotate a bit as the pin no longer blocks it. This is a good signal because you now have space to put the pick on the next pin.

Repeat the steps with all remaining pins. Meanwhile, pay attention to apply pressure on the wrench so that it transmits force to the spindle. The pin is only fully pushed up when you have heard the “click”. If not, it may return to its original location, and you have to start the process again.

Tips and Tricks to be a Master


  • Add a little lubricant while picking a lock with a paperclip to make it slippery, then you can insert it more easily.
  • Choose a good quality paper clip, thick but not too thick, and long enough for a better experience.
  • Avoid applying too much force with each operation. Try to feel each pin to adjust the tension accordingly.
  • For the first practice, you can order a transparent master lock to understand how it works and where its parts are located.
  • Trying with the door of a room or cabinet in the house is also a solution. But in my experience, you should only practice with them once you have had some success with a master lock.
  • If you do not have paper clips, a few similar-shaped items like bobby pins and hairpins are alternatives that can provide the same effect.
  • Ask a random person for help, or save the locksmith’s phone number because there may be problems that we do not anticipate. That problem may come from the lock, the tool, or the operation you do.
  • Practice makes perfect. Understand the principle and steps, and you might be able to solve it smoothly when the real problem hits.

If you are a professional locksmith. I recommend you own a lock pick set to make the job smoother and more professional. There are also locks with high security, such as smart locks for airbnb and homekit door locks, they are compatible with smartphones and more.


There are many convenient ways to open locks without keys, but what I present today is the most common method that requires only a few basic tools available in your home. But it also has the downside that it can be difficult to do at first. So, besides equipping yourself with the method I mentioned above about paperclip lock picks, you need to practice alone until you are proficient.

I’ve shared with you helpful tips and tricks on how to pick a master lock with a paperclip in the hopes of teaching you a thing or two about methods to open a master lock conveniently and correctly. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Send me an email if you want to explore any other subjects as well.

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