How to Make a Lockpick Out of a Paper Clip

Making an improvised lockpick out of a paper clip is easy and can be done in about 5 minutes or so. It’s not going to open every lock out there, especially high security stuff like Medecos et al, but it will pop open most pin-tumbler locks if the person using it knows what they’re doing and has the necessary skills. Mind you that you’ll have to make 2 specific tools to pick a lock: not just a pick, but also the

tension wrench (if you don’t understand why, then go read this article on how lockpicking works at and then come back here). A tension wrench can be improvised from a number of things, but generally it needs to be a bit stronger than the pick (safety pins

work well). Please, don’t pick open any locks (or try to) that don’t belong to you, you’re seriously asking for trouble if you do. Alright, warnings out of the way, here’s what to do:

Making a lockpick out of a paper clip: the process

First a few tips before we get to the instructions:

  • A mutli-tool’s needle-nosed pliers will prove infinitely useful while doing this, though not necessary (paper clips are soft, you can just use your fingers).
  • It doesn’t have to be a paper clip: there are tons of things that meet the necessary qualifications of “small, metal, and bendable”–just some thick wire will do in a pinch.
  • Be gentle when using the tension wrench: you don’t need as much tension as you think you do (usually).
  • Cheap Masterlock padlocks and Kwikset doorknob locks and deadbolts are generally the easiest targets, start with those 😉 .

Alright, here’s how to do it (note that what he calls a “spanner” is also known as a “tension wrench”):

Additional Resources and Further Reading

If you liked this and want to learn how to make your own bump keys, I’ve already got an article written up on that you should have a look at: Bump-Key How-To. Also, an excellent book on the subject is Steve Hampton’s Modern High-Security Locks: How To Open Them, highly recommended.

If you really want to get involved in this as a hobby, I can’t think of anything better to do than to head on over to the Forums and join up–there’s so much info there you could spend the next month reading through old threads and learning how to do everything from pick locks to crack safes and making your own picks with dremel tools and windshield wiper inserts 😀 .