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How to Pick a Cam Lock? – 3 Detailed Methods

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to pick a cam lock

It is natural to keep your valuable things out of sight and other people’s hands. With a tubular cam lock and a key, you can keep those valuables inside your cabinet or locker.

However, there might come a time when you lose your cam lock key or your key gets damaged, and you can no longer open your drawer and access your valuables. Fortunately for you, there are multiple ways to pick a circular lock.

In this article, I will show you how to pick a cam lock in quick and easy steps.

Ways to Pick a Cam Lock

There are different ways to pick circle lock, and it all depends on your picking skills and the materials available to you.

These are the options to choose from to open a round lock without key:

</p> <h3><strong>Method 1 - Pick a cam lock with a paperclip.</strong></h3> <p>


Paperclips are sturdy and malleable, making them a good alternative to standard hooks and tension tools. To pick a double cam lock with a paperclip, follow these steps:

  1. Bend the short end of the paper clip and straighten it out until it forms 180 degrees.
  2. With short nose pliers, bend the very end of the paper clip to form a 135 degree angle. This will serve as the hook to push the pins inside.
  3. With the bent end first, insert your paper clip and locate the pins inside the cam lock.
  4. Wiggle the paperclip inside until all pins are set.
  5. The circular mechanism of the cam lock should turn if you have unlocked it.
</p> <h3><strong>Method 2 - Drill out cam lock</strong>.</h3> <p>


If lockpicking is not for you, and you do not mind having to break a cam lock, you can just drill out the lock. Follow these steps:

  1. Prepare a power drill, safety goggles, masking tape, and a flathead screwdriver.
  2. Take a quarter-inch tape and wrap it around the drill bit. This step is important, especially when you do not want to damage the storage space behind the cam lock.
  3. Drill a hole in the center of the lock with a ⅛-inch bit.
  4. After drilling a starting hole, attach a bigger drill bit (¼ inch or bigger) and drill onto the starting hole to destroy the inner mechanism of the lock.

Note: If the lock does not budge or unlock itself, you might have to resort to using a screwdriver to manually twist it.

</p> <h3><strong>Method 3 - Pick a cam lock with a ballpoint pen.</strong></h3> <p>


The cases of ballpoint pens are sturdy and can be modified to open cam locks with ease. To open a cam lock without a key, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a ballpoint pen where the diameter of its casing is slightly smaller or the same as the cam lock’s opening.
  2. Take out the ink tube inside and the headpiece, then cut the end of the ballpoint pen.
  3. With a cutter, carefully make vertical lines on the side of the pen. Four notches should be enough to make picking easier.
  4. Insert the pen into the opening of the lock.
  5. Shake the pen and the lock back and forth and side to side.
  6. The lock will open by itself if you have set all the pins on the lock.
</p> <h3><strong>Method 4 - Picking a circular lock</strong> with a lock pick.</h3> <p>


If the above ways do not work, you might want to resort to the conventional method of opening any locks — with a lock pick. To bypass your cam lock, follow these steps:

  1. Check the description of your lock to see how many pins it has. Some might have five pins, while others are equipped with seven.
  2. Choose a pick with the same number of pins as the lock. For example, if your cam lock has 7 pins, choose a lockpick with 7 pins.
  3. Adjust your lockpick using the tightening bolt. Turn it so the pick’s needles and the lock pins align.
  4. Insert your lockpick inside the cam lock as far as it can go. Repeat the above step if you have trouble doing this.
  5. Turn the pick clockwise to open the lock.



Are tubular cam locks easy to pick?

Unfortunately, it is not easy to pick a tubular lock compared to the standard cam lock, but it is not impossible to do so.

It depends on the experience you have with lockpicking and the tools that are available, unless you have a tubular cam lock master key which, more often than not, will open your cabinet without a hitch.

This is because tubular cam locks are not the same as other types, since their pins are pushed horizontally instead of in a vertical manner. The more pins you have to push, the more difficult it is to pick the lock.

Are all cam locks the same diameter?

Not all cam locks have the same diameter. The diameters range from ⅛ inch to six inches, depending on the type of security device they are going to be attached to.

However, the standard diameter of cam locks are ⅝ inches, ⅞ inches, 1 ⅛ inches, and 1 ⅜ inches. These measurements are small, since they are commonly used in cabinets and lockers.


In this day and age, it is important to know how to get around the security that you have put up so that you won’t get locked out. This knowledge would also tell you what inconsistencies and vulnerabilities of your security measures you can work on.

Knowing how to pick a cam lock is something you should learn if you usually keep your valuables in cabinets and storages. So, the next time you lose your cam lock key, you can access your belongings easily and quickly.

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