How hard is it to learn Lock-Picking?

I have thought about learning how to pick locks for some time now. It seems like a nice little eye-hand skill thing to pick up. There are some videos out there, and plenty of books.

I thought I might get some tools and a couple of very-cheap padlocks and then move up from there.

Anyone out there ever they to self-teach lock picking?

With yale locks and padlocks - very easy. Friend of mine brought a lock pick and a padlock with 6 cylinders over to my place one day, and by the end of the afternoon I’d picked it 5 times. Took about 10-20minutes each time. Locks with mushroom cylinders are a lot harder, apparently, but I was very surprised to learn how easy it was to pick your average door-lock or padlock.

It’s quite fun, too. Like one of those mindless games on your phone, when you’ve got nothing better to do.

Back in college (in the 80’s) I taught myself to pick the room door locks. They weren’t particularly great locks so it only took about 1/2 hour of experimentation. My friends and I would use the long pointy metal things they sold to biology students in the book store as lock picks. We started teaching our friends to do it and eventually the book store caught on and started requiring proof you were taking a bio class to sell them to you.

It actually came in really useful one day. The last night before they closed up the dorms for Christmas vacation myself and two friends were the only ones left in the dorm and one of my friends locked himself out of his room. We were looking around for something to use as picks when we noticed he was wearing two paperclips as earrings. 5 minutes later his door was open.

Back in high school I taught myself how to pick door locks and other regular tumbler style locks. Once you understand what’s going on inside the lock, it’s not that difficult.
The funny thing was that the book I was reading (Anarchist’s Cookbook maybe) said the best think to use was street cleaner bristles. Obviously I didn’t have a good source for those…until the next day when I was walking to school and found a handful of them on the side of the road. They do work well. Very thin and stiff and do a much better job then a paperclip.

It’s not hard. I learned from a friend in high school, who taught himself to do it.

It comes in handy in a workplace where a lot of the filing cabinets and closets don’t have keys anymore, but which are easy to lock by accident.

I went to classes taught by an actual locksmith to learn how to defeat common locks for doors and safes. He’d been in the business for about 30 years and the first thing he told us was that picking a lock is never as easy as it’s made out to be in movies. It takes time, even for an expert (depending on the complexity of the lock, of course). For a lock such as Medeco, you’ll never get in by picking, nor likely by drilling, even when you know how it’s made. It’s one of the most highly effective locks on the market.

In many jurisdictions, including California, it is illegal to own lock picking tools unless you are a locksmith.

Apparently lockpicking for fun / competition is called locksport - googling that may bring up some local clubs (there’s one near me that meets every month, but I don’t think you’re in California…). There’s at least one forum and a convention dedicated to it.

For me, it’s pretty hard. It doesn’t help that I get frustrated and end up using too much torque. Most people I know who pick locks had a much easier time learning it.

This seems to imply that intent is necessary. So it’s not a crime to possess, but if caught B&E, you would be also charged with possession.

I feel like this is a skill I need to learn just in case, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I have a follow up question if the OP does not mind:

Is it easier to use actual picks on locks or one of these gun-type dealies? Or is the methodology the same anyways making it practically no different?

YouTube offers lots of clips with instructions.

First read should be the MIT guide to lock picking. Bicycle spokes and hacksaw blades can also be made into durable tools. Or so I’m told. :wink: Most sources say to skip the guns.

Well, when I am home let me swing by the hardware store to see what they have along the line of tools. Thank you all.

Our instructor recommended keeping a set of dental picks in our tool boxes.

Pick guns require next to no skill to use. The only thing you have to do is learn the right amount of torque to apply, then the gun does the rest. They are also noisy as hell, and they don’t work against locks like Medecos, due to the shape of the tumblers.

Sounds like fun, especially at banks.

However, I would be the world’s worst at picking locks.
I can’t even get into people’s homes and apartments when they give me their key?
There have been many times I had to go feed a pet, or water some plants, or whatever and wind up spending a good half hour trying to open someone’s damned door with their key! I can only imagine how long it would take me with some metalic boar’s hair or whatever…

BTW, when I lived in Berlin at an apartment with a huge metal door to the back complex, one of the residents got tired of going downstairs to open that huge door for his friends - so he took a wad of tissue and some super glue and closed that hole to that lock for good.

In middle school a shop teacher who used to work as a locksmith or assistance/apprentice showed me the basics of how pin-cylinder locks worked, just for fun. It was the age of ftp everything, so basic texts weren’t hard to find.

Never managed to procure spring steel to fashion a tension thingy, but it seemed kind of fun and nerdy at the time. I did make a little rake and used a bit of odd metal to try on some of my parents’ house (Kwikset) locks, and it took a while to crack them, but was kind of harmless.