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How to Pick a Skeleton Key Lock in a Few Easy Steps?

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to pick a skeleton key lock

Wondering how to pick a skeleton key lock? Lift the lever by inserting the allen wrench inside the hole. Locate the lever by wiggling the wrench then engage the wrench by using your hand. Put the second wrench into the hole by hooking it to the first one. Unlock the deadbolt by twisting the allen wrench clockwise.

It is not impossible to unlock a skeleton key lock if you lose your key. You don’t need a professional locksmith to open a skeleton key lock for you. By following this tutorial, you will learn the techniques on skeleton key lock picking.

What You Need


You need specific tools in picking a skeleton key lock. For this tutorial, the tools are easy to find. You can check your toolbox to see if you have them or you can also borrow from your neighbor. These are also common items that you can find in a store. Aside from that, they are affordable.

Allen wrench


An allen wrench is an L-shaped tool that is used to tighten different kinds of screws such as hex screws. It is lightweight and includes smaller sizes that can reach tiny screws that are buried. The tips are also interchangeable; however, the torque may depend on the length and thickness of the wrench.

The most popular sizes of the allen wrench are 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and ¼-inch, which are used for motorcycle repairs. In this tutorial, you will need two allen wrenches that are 3/32-inch. Also, if it is possible, keep 5/64-inch wrenches on hand in case the former are too small to fit the lock.

If you don’t have an allen wrench, you can also use a paperclip. Choose a metal paper clip that is malleable and durable to prevent it from breaking. Bend the ¼ tip of the paperclip while ¾ of it remains straight.

You can also use a bobby pin. Make sure to strip off the plastic if it has one and bend the tip of the pin into a 90-degree angle. Hold on to the bent portion while you are picking the lock so you can easily maneuver it.

A pair of gloves (optional)


Since picking a lock takes a lot of hand movements, you may need a pair of gloves, especially if your hands easily sweat. There are anti-slip gloves available in the market. You can use them to help you grip tighter to the wrenches. Aside from that, they will keep you from experiencing any blisters due to the prolonged lock-picking.

Choose gloves that have anti-slip features. These gloves are made of synthetic leather, cotton, vinyl, nylon, and mixed fabric. Make sure that the pair of gloves perfectly fit your hands so you can pick the lock with ease. You must also be comfortable while using them.

Pliers (optional)


If you don’t have Allen wrenches, you may need to create a makeshift key using a paperclip or bobby pin. To make things easier, you need to have round nose pliers. A pair of round-nose pliers is used to bend, hold, and shape a wire. They are also called rosary pliers.

People who make jewelry use this tool to create loops at the end of the necklaces and fasten clamps. It is easier to make coils using the round nose pliers because of their rounded jaws. It is recommended to purchase these pliers in a hardware store since they are more suitable in bending larger wires.

Lubricant (optional)


The lubricant is recommended if the key lock is rusty and old. You can use a penetrating lubricant to remove the rust. It has the ability to infiltrate the cracks on the surface, remove the rust and add lubrication. This will help you pick the lock quicker and easier.

If you don’t have a penetrating lubricant, you can also use oil as an alternative. The only disadvantage of using oil is that once the surface is exposed to dirt or dust, it could gum up and cause more friction.

You can also use a dry lubricant. It is usually in a spray form so you have to avoid liquid surfaces to not wash the lubricant away. The advantage of this lubricant is that it doesn’t attract any dust or debris.

How to Pick a Skeleton Key Lock Step-by-Step


Put the first wrench inside the hole and locate the lever

Put the first wrench inside the hole. Press it close to the part that is facing you. Push upward until you feel the lever moving. Continue to wiggle the wrench up and down and back and forth. If you don’t feel any resistance, it means that the interior spring is not working. In this case, you can’t pick the lock so just call a locksmith.

Engage the lever in place using your hand

You need to engage the lever and keep it in place using your less used hand. If you lose the lever, you can readjust the wrench so that you can push it up. This may take you a few tries but continue trying until you hold it in the right position.

Put the second wrench inside the hole by hooking it to the first one

While you are engaging the lever with the first wrench, insert the second wrench inside the hole. If it did not fit, use a smaller wrench or a durable metal paper clip. Since you don’t have the key, you are now producing a makeshift key using the two pieces of metal.

Unlock the deadbolt by turning the second wrench clockwise

In order to unlock the deadbolt, you need to turn the second wrench clockwise and feel the resistance. Continue to twist the wrench until the deadbolt successfully slides back and you have picked the lock. This is also the same procedure as locking the same lock but in a counterclockwise direction.

Remove the wrenches from the lock

Once you have successfully pushed back the deadbolt, you can remove the wrenches from the lock. Turn the handle or the knob of your cabinet or room. You may also want to change your lock so that you open your cabinet or door every time you want to.

If it won’t open even after the deadbolt moved, it means that the spring to the handle is already broken. You have to remove the lock and the backplate. Call a locksmith to do this for you.


Did you enjoy our tutorial on how to pick a skeleton key lock? You won’t need to pay a locksmith or buy a cabinet skeleton key replacement to open a skeleton lock without a key. By following each step, you can pick the skeleton key lock mechanism.

If you find this article helpful, you can share this post with your friends and loved ones. This would help them find a way to access their old cabinets. We also love to hear your thoughts and experiences while you are doing the tutorial. You are free to leave a comment below.

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