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A quick guide to locksmith tools (part 1)

Posted by Mark Stuckey on

There are many locksmith tools available to the professional and amateur, often the sheer number and variation of locksmith tools can be daunting to anyone looking to enter the field or just someone who likes the idea of learning new skills of lock picking and Non-Destructive Entry. Here we are going to give a quick rundown on some of the locksmith tools you are likely to come across in common use today.


Super Mica: The world famous credit card operating the door latch only this stuff works way better and can be used multiple times, comes in multiple cut to size sheets of flexible, low friction plastic.

Tension Wrench: This is often referred to as a tension tool or torque wrench, they are the same thing just with different names. This is used to apply torque to the plug of a lock, to set any picked pins in place with each set pin allowing the slightest of turn on the plug. When all the pins are picked, the tension tool is used to fully turn the plug and open the lock. They are mostly shaped like a letter "L", but there are of course many variations on this “L” shaped standard tension tool.

A fairly recent advancement, called feather touch wrenches, these employ a spring in the wrench which helps the lock picker maintain a constant torque. Some users; however, insist that such tension wrenches reduce control and the feedback available.

Even more tension tools, e.g. for use with cars and wafer type locks are like a pair of tweezers and allow the user to apply torque to both sides of the lock.

The other main type of tension wrenches on the Locksmith market are round and known as circular tension tools. These often have a spring system in them allowing again for constant torque on the plug. These wrenches are especially good for locksmiths working in areas where there is little room around the lock and a standard “L” shaped tool won’t fit.

As it is almost impossible to pick a lock without a tension wrench it is an often neglected but essential part of picking locks and locksmith tool kits.

Half-diamond lock pick: Probably the most common lock pick in use today, this common pick is included in most lock pick kits and is used generally for single pin picking(SPP) pin tumbler locks, but can be used for basic lock raking and for picking other types of locks like wafers and disk locks. The sides of the half-diamond vary in angle to give the lock picker choice in how fine the control is within the lock, with each style giving different results for SPP or for raking.

Hook pick: Similar to the half diamond pick, but with a hook shaped picking end rather than a half diamond. S referred to as a feeler or finger and cannot be used for raking. This is the very basic lock picking tool and is all that a lock picker will generally need, if the lock is to be picked in the traditional method. A small selection of different sized and shaped hooks will be present in a standard set of lock picks.

Ball pick: More similar to a half diamond pick the ball pick offers a slight variation on this pick by having rounded sides rather than straight. Again standard lock pick sets will offer a small selection of tools made in this style.

Rake picks: These lock picks, such as the common wriggler rake, are made to rake pins by sliding the pick across all the lock pins, repeat several times, in order to move the pins until they reach the shear line and get locked into place by the tension applied. Much less skill than single pin picking pins individually, and generally works well on older and cheaper locks. Often a rake can be used to set multiple pins 1st then changing to a half diamond or ball pick to pick the last remaining pin or 2.

Raking is often used by beginning lock pickers as it’s much easier to master and can give results within minutes. But again like all lock picking, tension is the key to successful lock raking and must be practised to give good results.

Inner Groove Lock Picks: Special rake lock picks usually supplied with a dedicated tension wrench. These car locksmith tools are manufactured to fit specific types of car laser locks. And often grant quick and easy entry into VW, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and more using an easy to master simple in and out raking action.

Bump keys:  This can be a really simple method for opening locks with the keys being cheap to purchase or if you have the skills made from a key that fits into the lock. The key is cut to its deepest cut often referred to as 999 key (9 being set on computer cutters at all points). Depth keys have been used in the past as a way of creating these keys from the deepest cut key in the set.

The way bump keys works is based on Newton’s Laws of motion and the way energy and momentum must be preserved. After a fair amount of practice striking and turning the key locks can be quickly and easily opened. Like hitting snooker balls or the action of a Newton’s Cradle the pins bounce apart after being struck leaving the sheer line open allowing for applied tension to then turn the lock.

Warded lock pick: Warded locks are very simple in their design. Having no pins or wafers the lock has ‘wards’ which restrict what can be turned in the lock. The key matches these wards and fits through the spaces left. So all that’s needed is a tool that can fit round/through these spaces to be able to open the lock. These types of locks are often found on cupboards/chests/handcuffs and are very easy to pick with the correct tools.

Pick guns: Seen in many movies and in locksmiths tool sets, manual and electronic pick guns are a wide spread technique used for quick and easy ways of opening locks. The most expensive electric lock pick guns are generally made of aluminium alloys and hard steel. By pressing a button or pulling the trigger this vibrates the pick end while tension is being applied. A manual lock pick gun (or Snap gun) is used in a similar way but usually has a trigger that creates a flick which snaps at the pins and operates again like bump keys on them temporarily creating a free sheer line, allowing the lock to turn. A pick gun must be used with a tension tool and only works on pin tumbler locks.

The Brockhage Manual pick gun comes in both up and down varieties and our KLOM electric pick gun has a reversible chuck.

Broken Key Extractor:  A dedicated set of tools designed to aid in the removal of broken keys and other obstructions from locks.


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