how to pick a lock
Tips & Tricks

5 Everyday Items You Can Use To Pick Locks

Learn how to use common, everyday items that you can find around your home to easily pick many different types of locks.

Would you believe me if I told you that 80% of padlocks out there can be easily picked with common, everyday items?

Well, I am here to give you some tips for that urban survival situation that you are preparing for.

All padlocks in the wild have similar innards, even some you may pay $10-$30 for on the open market.

Here are 5 items that you can find around your home, office or department store that will having you pick your way to survival. We’ve included these items specifically to address various types of locks you may encounter.

1. Coke Can

Good For: Padlocks, Combination Locks

how to pick a lock tab

You need a trusty knife and a soda can for the creation of this tool. What you will be making here is a shim. This tool will work for most key-based padlocks and combination locks. You start by cutting the coke can into a rectangle (you may want to wear a pair of gloves since it’ll be kind of sharp). Then, cut it into an “M” shape. After that, fold the two outer side of the “M” upward so you have a short “T” shape like pictured.

Once you have this tool, simply slide it down the sides of the “U” bar of the lock. Push the shim in between the lock body and the “U”. Once it’s all the way down there, then pull up hard on the “U” and it will open right up.

Learn lockpicking at home with these resources

2. Plastic Bottle

Good For: Door Knob Locks

For the least secure door locks, often times a plastic bottle will get you right in. You’d be surprised how many outer-facing apartment and home doors use sub-par locks. Not to mention, almost all interior locked doors will have the lower security style locks that can easily be picked with a thin chunk of plastic.

First, cut or tear the bottle into a square or rectangular chunk, roughly the size of a credit card.The trick here is to wedge the piece of plastic in between the door jam and the lock bolt. Put downward pressure onto the bolt while grabbing the door handle and rocking the door back and forth and ka-boom! That baby should pop right open.

3. Paper Clips

Good For: Padlocks, Door Locks

Paper clips can be your best friend when looking to pick and padlock, master lock or door lock around. All you need is two paper clips and a pair of plyers (or strong hands). Straighten both paper clips out fully.

The first paper clip, you just bend at a 90-degree angle into an L shape. The second, straighten it all the way out and make 3 wavy ridges, totaling about 3/4” on one side. Now you have the two tools necessary to lock pick the traditional way by scrubbing.

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4. Hair Pins

Good For: Padlocks, Door Locks

Similar to the paperclip method, all you need for this is two hair pins and a pair of pliers. Again, you make two separate tools for this. One “L” shaped wrench and one wavy ridged pick. Use the good ole’ scrubbing method and you are well on your way to getting past that lock.

5. Just A Knife

Good For: Door Knob Locks

This method is similar to the plastic bottle method. It relies on exploiting the space between the door jam and the lock bolt. Slide the knife down on top of the lock bolt. Put pressure downward while pushing back and forth on the door itself and it will pop on up! For more secure locks, you will have to refer to the traditional lock picking methods like the paper clip and hair pin strategies.

Final Word

So there you have it! Five items that you can probably find in your handy junk drawer that can pick through 80% of all padlocks and many door knob locks. You can head over to to learn how to pick a lock with their how to guides, check out lock pick set reviews and read their blog all about locks and security.

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.

1 Comment

  1. I always see people in the movies pick car locks and if I locked my keys in the car, I’d probably wish I could do that myself. It is interesting that you can cut an “M” shape out of a coke can to make a padlock picker. I’d probably consult a locksmith before trying anything like that in my own car though.

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