Skeleton keys have a reputation for opening all locks, but this is not entirely accurate. While they may work on certain types of locks, that is all.
If you find yourself needing to pick a skeleton key lock, there are some methods that can assist. These tips and tricks will get you through the door without having to call a locksmith for assistance.
1. Coat hanger or paper clip
A coat hanger is an ideal tool to use when picking a skeleton key lock. Its malleability allows it to be bent into a hook that fits through the lock’s opening, but be careful when twisting it – this could cause injury to your hand; thus, wearing gloves while performing this task is recommended.
Another useful option for pickers is a paper clip. These are typically found at home and offer an affordable and straightforward method to open a lock. Just be sure to have extras handy in case of emergency!
You may use a flat head screwdriver or nail file instead of the paper clip. Although these tools are stronger, be sure to insert them carefully into the lock’s keyhole.
Before using this method to pick a skeleton key lock, you should apply generous amounts of lubricant into its keyhole. Doing so helps prevent the lock from rusting and damaging its inner mechanisms.
Once the lock has been lubricated, it should be easier to unlock with makeshift tools. A wire coat hanger or long piece of metal that has been bent should do the trick; make sure the tool has two bends so it can grip the lock securely and squirm through any doorways.
Depending on how the lock is set up, you may also be able to open it using a paper clip. Just be sure to take lots of pictures beforehand so you can identify any keyholes or markings on the lock that could make it simpler for a locksmith to locate an appropriate replacement.
If your skeleton key locks have become difficult to open, picking them may be worth trying. With patience and the right tool, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes once you know which type of lock needs fixing.
If you need an effortless way to pick a skeleton key lock, try using a wrench. These come in various sizes and can be found at most home improvement or hardware stores. Not only do these come in handy for many things around the house; but when it comes to picking locks, they’re especially beneficial.
When picking a wrench for any lock type, the initial step is finding one that fits precisely. There are various Allen wrench types available, so chances are good you’ll be able to locate some that will work with your particular lock.
Once you have your good wrench, insert it into the keyhole of your skeleton key lock. Doing this will guarantee that you can grasp onto the lever inside of the lock easily.
Next, wiggle your wrench up and down and back and forth until you can feel the lever move. If nothing happens, this indicates that your tool may not be functioning correctly and calling a locksmith instead of attempting to pick the lock yourself is recommended.
If you don’t have access to a wrench, other objects can be used instead. A coat hanger is an ideal choice as it has sturdy wire that can be bent into shape and used as a handle.
Another option is to use a paper clip or bobby pin. These are both very malleable, so they can be bent into an appropriate shape for picking locks. However, be mindful that if you bend them too much, they’ll no longer work and you must start over from square one.
Your success with picking your skeleton key lock may depend on its age and condition. If it has been stripped and refinished, there’s likely that the lock has become clogged with dust, dried stripping chemicals, or refinishing products – which could damage the lock if attempted.
3. Pin tumblers
Pin tumbler locks are one of the oldest security technologies still used today, having been first developed over 2,000 years ago in Egypt and still prevalent today, especially in antique furniture and homes.
Pin tumbler locks are designed to prevent the lock from being turned without the correct key inserted. To accomplish this, each pin in each stack must be pushed up individually until they reach a height known as the shear line.
Ordinary pin-tumbler locks typically feature a single stack high shear line; however, master ring and small-format interchangeable core (SFIC) locks feature two shear lines keyed independently by an “double height” pin stack. This makes picking this type of lock much more challenging, necessitating an additional layer of security.
To pick these types of locks, a student of lock picking must learn to recognize the state of each pin. This involves understanding its location in relation to the keyway, how it can be moved through it, and when it has reached either its shear line or has been overset.
This is accomplished using picks and torque tools. Picks probe and lift individual pin tumblers through the keyway, while torque tools control the degree and force of plug rotation.
Lock picking requires the student to create an intuitive mental image of the lock’s internal structure as they manipulate pins. This skill takes practice, but once acquired will make them far more adept at opening various types of locks.
When picking locks, students of lock picking should try to apply as little torque as possible. This light touch will enable them to more accurately pick high quality locks, ultimately leading to greater efficiency as a picker.
One common technique for picking a pin tumbler lock is to use a gently rounded rake pick. The student of lock picking should push and pull the pick along each stack from front to back while applying light to moderate torque. If that does not work, she can try inverting and pivoting the rake pick inside the lock while applying light torque in order to simulate various key profiles.
4. Pin tumblers with jigglers
To pick a skeleton key lock, the key is simply jiggling its pins. This simple yet effective technique has been used for centuries by some of the world’s top locksmiths.
Jiggling pins in a pin tumbler or wafer lock can be an effective trick that fools them into believing the correct key has been inserted. This method works on many different locks and is highly effective.
Jigglers are an indispensable tool for opening pin tumbler and wafer locks, as well as many other types of locks. A set of jigglers should always be included in any lock picker’s arsenal.
Jigglers come in a range of designs and functions to fit any need. Some are specifically designed to work with pin tumbler locks, while others can accommodate wafer or high tolerance locks.
SouthOrd 13-Pin Cylinder Jigglers are designed to open a variety of pin tumbler and high tolerance locks. Manufactured by one of the world’s most reliable lockpick tool manufacturers, these jigglers make an excellent choice for any serious lock picker.
They come in various sizes, allowing you to pick the one perfect for the job. Plus, these tools are durable and long-lasting – a great investment for any serious locksmith.
Other jigglers are more complex, designed to mimic the shapes of various keys. While they’re easier to use and more precise than traditional rakes, using them requires more skill.
Some jigglers are even designed to work with cross locks, a type of pin tumbler lock commonly found in Europe. These jigglers look exactly like cruciform locks but can also be used on other types of pin tumbler locks.
Another popular type of jiggler is the coffin key, which works in various wafer and pin tumbler locks. They offer an alternative solution to picking or using skeleton keys and are much cheaper than other jiggler types.