Lock picking is the art of unlocking a lock mechanism by manipulating the tumblers/levers using specialized equipment without inflicting damage to the components. Most locks equipped with levers, pin tumblers, wafer tumblers and disc/disk tumblers can be picked. Most warded locks can be picked...
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Lock picking is the art of unlocking a lock mechanism by manipulating the tumblers/levers using specialized equipment without inflicting damage to the components. Most locks equipped with levers, pin tumblers, wafer tumblers and disc/disk tumblers can be picked. Most warded locks can be picked. Picking the different types of locks and levers or tumblers require different tools and techniques.
Picking tumbler-equipped locks using standardized methods is only possible because these key operated mechanical locks are not manufactured to exact dimensions. For example, locks’ components are not manufactured within one millionth of an inch. If locks were manufactured to exact dimensions, the cost of each lock would be astronomical, making it impractical, if not impossible for most persons to own.
If a lock were manufactured to exact dimensions, each pin or wafer tumbler would align exactly at the similar height positions against the pin chamber’s walls. If all of the tumblers similarly align, then no one tumbler can be manipulated since all the tumblers and their pin chambers are identical. No one tumbler will have greater resistance when the plug/cylinder is rotated. When one tumbler is raised to the shear line, the plug/cylinder will not rotate slightly to keep the tumbler in the picked position.
To keep prices within reason, every lock is manufactured within a given set of tolerances. These plus and minus values are within the lock manufacturer’s specified production’ dimensions. In addition to machine tolerances, there are tolerances in the materials from which the locks are manufactured. For example, die cast locks have built in tolerances depending upon their exact composition and the methods/times of production.
Locksmiths pick locks for several reasons. There is no key available and picking is a non-destructive method for providing access. Once a lock has been picked, the tumblers can be read in order to originate a key if all keys were no longer available. The lock can be disassembled and serviced or rekeyed.
Lock picking a pin tumbler lock mechanism requires two tools; a picking instrument and a turning tool commonly called a torque or tension wrench. A picking instrument is designed to manipulate the tumbler to be in position of the shear line. Picking instruments are manufactured of spring steel or stainless steel.
The turning tool is used to rotate the lock mechanism’s plug/cylinder to determine tumbler resistance and to keep the picked tumblers in position enabling the plug to rotate once all of the tumblers have been picked. Turning tools can be manufactured of spring steel or stainless steel.
There are a number of different types and styles of picking instruments and turning tools. For conventional pin tumbler locks, picks and rakes are used. A pick is designed to lift one tumbler at a time. Some of the more common picks are the half-diamond, the hook and the half ball. To accommodate problems that result from a shallow pin directly behind a deep pin, pick manufacturers have developed modified picks with bent shafts in order to be able to get into position to pick the obstructed shallow pins. Some manufacturers have produced smaller bladed picks as alternative for narrow and paracentric keyways. Some picking instruments are available double ended as well as single ended.
A rake is designed to lift more than one pin tumbler at a time. There are rakes designed to manipulate two tumblers at a time, up to seven or more tumblers at a time. Most rakes do not have common names. The method of raking the tumblers in a lock is commonly to use a figure eight pattern, lifting and lowering all of the tumblers at differing times. By having turning pressure, when the tumblers align at the shear line, the plug/cylinder will turn by default.
Note: There are electronic and mechanical rakes. These include pick guns and electronic picks.