How to Pick a Lock With a Paperclip

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There are survival skills that may come in handy in 2023 in situations of unpredictability and urgency. Sometimes, there are situations when you need to unlock your or someone else’s door, but you do not have a key or lock picks in among your survival gear. For example, if you slammed the door of the house and you stuck out of your own house without keys, or if someone locked you and you can’t get out. Besides, you may need to break into another person’s apartment to help them urgently.

In other words, you may face different situations, and you should know how to act in each case. That is why it will be useful for you to learn how to create an improvised rake and a tension wrench with the help of two paper clips and a pair of pliers.

As a result, you will be able to use these paper clips in the manner of ordinary lock picks, and with proper practice, you will pick a lock easily and quickly. Below you can find detailed information and step-by-step guidelines of making paperclip lock pick and how to use it for lock picking.

Where to find details

If you’re interested in information about survival hacks, you can read other useful articles on our website. Here, you will find many important tips and manuals for surviving in the city, wilderness, learning how to prepare your perfect survival gear, and much more.

If you want to learn how to make a paperclip lock pick and use it to pick a lock, keep reading this article.

What Do I Need To Pick A Lock?


Everything you need to create lock picks can usually be found at everyone’s home. You should prepare:

  • One big paper clip to act as a handmade tension wrench
  • Second paper clip for an improvised pick
  • A pair of pliers

You will need pliers to give the paper clips the necessary shape, suitable for picking most locks. I do not recommend you to use plastic paper clips, as they are too fragile and can break right into the bottom of the keyhole (also called a shear line) if you apply too much pressure. It is much better to use metal paper clips of the largest possible size.

Although it is said that you need paperclips precisely, in fact, you can take a bobby pin or a piece of wire for this purpose.

Meanwhile, a Multi-Tool works great to create bends and twists at the same time and give the necessary shape to the paper clips.

Making Tension Wrench And Rake Using Two Paper Clips

1.Creating Tension Wrench


Make one of the paper clips straight, leaving one end bent, and connect both parts. Using pliers, bend the straight end perpendicular to create a handle that you will hold in your hand while the short end will be in a lock. With this tension tool, you will be able to apply a binding force and use it as a key.

1.Rake Making


Make the second paper clip straight and create three ridges with pliers. To do this, squeeze one end with the tool and bend the other end 90 degrees, making the first ridge. Then bend the other end of the paper clip and keep bending it. Altogether, you must do four bends.

Alternative Method

There is also another way to create lock picking tools. To learn more about this technique which can help you to bypass pin lock or tumbler lock effectively, watch this video.

This lock picking method is a bit less widespread and takes more time, but it’s still a beneficial and effective one.

Paper Clip Lock Picking Guidelines


Obviously, two paperclips, as well as bobby pins, will never be able to replace the picklocks fully – they are not so convenient to use, and the process of opening the lock can take a long time. Besides, it’s unlikely that you will succeed on the first try. However, practice makes perfect, so eventually, you will be able to use them to pick a pin or tumbler lock quickly and effectively. Besides, keep that in mind while thinking of fortifying your home, too.

To start picking the pin lock, follow these instructions:

1. Use a tension wrench to find the right pressure

Take the tension wrench and insert it into the bottom of the keyhole or so-called shear line and rotate it the same way the lock turns. So, rotate it counterclockwise or clockwise depending on the door’s features. Keep an eye on the applying tension and never push too much on the paper clip so as not to bend or break it. However, apply enough pressure to keep pins inside the lock. You should feel this and once you find the right amount of pressure, try to keep it the same throughout the entire process of opening the lock.

2. Apply a paperclip rake

Take the second paperclip in your hand and place it in the upper keyhole so that the fat side (the end of the short side of the paper clip) is facing the pins.

3. Detect the lock pins

Now you should feel out all the pins by inserting a master key into the back of the lock and slightly lifting each of them. Most common household locks have at least five pins, so you need to locate each one to check how hard they are by forcing light tension. In addition, these pins are spring-loaded, so to pick a lock, you will need to hold them all up simultaneously.

4. Use a tension wrench and a rake simultaneously

Apply binding force to your paperclip tension wrench while you are depressing the pins.

5. Open the lock

Finally, jiggle picks until the lock opens, applying more and more additional pressure. This may be accompanied by clicking sounds that tell you that you are doing everything correctly.

Sometimes, you can’t open the lock easily. In this case, you should take the pick out and then reset the pins by taking the tension tool and pushing it in the opposite direction. You will hear the pins dropping then.


Thus, if you practice enough, you will be able to open almost any lock with an improvised rake and tension wrench. In fact, it is indeed a simple task to create a lock pick with a paper clip. By the way, if you try to pick the lock of the front door of your house, you will probably be considered a criminal, so it is better to buy a special lock for practicing.

There are also other several methods of lockpicking suitable for beginners: check our extensive article. However, please note that paper clips, wire, as well as other materials are not professional tools for opening locks, which means they should be used only in extreme cases. If you use them incorrectly, they can break and get stuck in your lock system in such a way that you will need to replace the lock. Therefore, be careful and preferably have lock picks in your survival backpack, just in case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you actually pick a lock with a paperclip?

Yes, but it needs some lock picking practice. You also must know how to prepare your paperclip lock pick tools with the help of pliers and use them as a tension wrench and a rake. But note, that this method is very unreliable since paper clips are not designed for lock picking purposes.

Does picking a lock damage it?

If you know how to pick a lock with a paperclip or other tool correctly, you don’t need to worry about your lock. However, non-professional lock pickers who are using a paper clip tension wrench and rake should be ready to buy a new lock. Because the consequences are unpredictable.

How to Open a Brink’s Padlock If the Key Is Lost

In fact, you can either pick the lock or cut it off completely. However, in the latter case, it will be unsuitable for further use. In order to pick a lock, you will need some lock picking tools and knowledge about how to open the lock without damaging it properly.

How to Remove a Stuck Deadbolt

You can try to lubricate the Lockset or heat it if it is frozen. If this method did not help, then you can always remove the deadbolt or completely remove the door from its hinges. If you can’t handle this by yourself, you should call professional lock pickers.

How to Use a Credit Card to Unlock Doors

Take an unnecessary card and insert it between the door and the jamb. Keep doing this until the card reaches the lock barrel while jiggling the handle. If you apply pressure, it may help you to open the lock.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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