How to open a padlock without breaking it

How to open a padlock without breaking it – The definitive guide

You want to get into the house or maybe access your treasure box. But there’s one problem. A padlock is in your way, and the key isn’t available. Or maybe it’s a combination lock, and you’ve forgotten the code.

Of course, you could break the lock or use a bolt cutter to snap it open. However, this might not be an option, especially if you don’t have the money for a replacement.

But don’t fret! Even though padlocks aren’t known for being strong, there are many ways to get around them without breaking them open.

Read this article and discover how to open a padlock without breaking it! Safe, effective, and easy to apply – you’ll never need to replace your padlock. Let’s go!

How to open a padlock without damaging it – 3 easy methods

The easiest way of opening a locked padlock is by picking it. You can make an improvised tool using a hairpin or paper clip. Or you can use a raking tool. Moreover, you can pick a lock using a padlock shim. This method works on most padlocks. You can even use it to open a Master Lock without a code.

Method 1: Makeshift picking tool – hairpin/bobby pin

What you’ll need:

  • Two bobby pins

Step 1: Prepare the lock for picking

First, you’ll want to use a thin lubricant like WD-40 or Vaseline. You can also use silicone lubricants and even paraffin wax if you want to go the all-natural route. It will help the metals slide more easily by removing any rust or corrosion.

To apply the lubricant, simply squirt some into the keyhole. You want enough that it fills up the hole but not so much that it drips out of the sides of the keyhole.

Step 2: Make a makeshift picking tool and tension wrench

  • Next, make your makeshift pick. To do this, pick one bobby pin and bend it out to 90 degrees and strip off the rubber pieces at the ends. Slide one end 2-3 inches into the lock and curl it slightly, say 30-60 degrees. Pull it out – you now have your makeshift picking tool.
  • Now make a makeshift tension wrench using the second bobby pin. You’ll use it to apply torque and turn the lock in the direction that it normally turns. Bend half of it to a right angle.

Step 3: Picking the lock

  • Insert the makeshift tension wrench into the bottom half of the keyhole. Apply gentle pressure in the direction that the lock normally turns.
  • Insert the bobby pin into the top half of the keyhole. Ensure the bent tip points upwards to feel and push up specific pins in the barrel.
  • Now, it’s time to locate any “seized” pin in the lock. Start by feeling the first pin. Push it up until it clicks. Still maintaining pressure on the tension wrench, move to the second pin and push it up until it clicks.
  • Repeat the process until all of the pins are set correctly. At that point, you can turn your lock freely and open it up!

Note: This method of opening a lock without key with hairpin can be replicated using a paper clip. If you find that the pins are too difficult to push, adjust the tension on your wrench.

Method 2: Raking technique

What you’ll need:

  • Raking tool
  • Tension wrench
  • Optional small file (to file down the tip of your tension wrench for easy insertion)

Step 1: Prepare your padlock for raking by lubricating to remove rust and corrosion.

Step 2: Insert your tension wrench into the bottom half of the keyhole. Rotate it in the direction the lock opens to pressure the pins and allow them to move.

Step 3: Slide your rake into the top half of the keyhole and quickly pull it out. Listen for any falling pins. If any, it shows you’ve applied the correct pressure on your tension wrench.

Step 4: Repeat step 3, raking back and forth for other “unset” pins. Do so until the lock disengages and opens.

Method 3: Shimming

Padlock shims are small pieces of metal that you insert between the shackle and the lock body. As a general rule, you can’t just stick any old shim into a lock and expect it to work. It needs to be thin enough to slide into the clearance between the shackle and the lock body.

Step 1: Slide the shim, preferably a commercial steel shim, into the clearance between the lock body and the shackle.

Step 2: Rotate the shim into position, and the lock will open right up. Use two shims for double-locking shackles.

Note: Padlock shims also work on combination locks. You can fashion makeshift padlock shims from soda cans. However, it might require a few trials and errors to get it right.

Bluetooth padlock with a battery- How to open when battery is dead

Bluetooth padlocks, such as the Master Lock 4400 series, often come with battery support.  So, how do you unlock when the battery is drained in the locked position?

Use a new external battery to jumpstart and unlock a Bluetooth padlock with battery. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the battery drawer to access the contact points

Step 2: Hold the new battery to the jump contact points and press any button on the lock keypad. But while at it, ensure you have an authorized Bluetooth device within range.

Step 3: Now, open the battery door and replace the dead battery with the new one.


Can you open a padlock with a toothpick?

It’s possible but highly unlikely. A toothpick will more likely snap inside, adding to your problems.

Can you shim all locks?

No. You can only shim springloaded locks. But as for ballbearing locks, it’s impossible.

Is there a padlock you cannot cut with bolt cutters?

Yes, you can get a cut proof padlock on the market. These padlocks are from high-end brands, such as Master Lock, Stanley, and ABUS.

Can every lock be picked?

Yes, all locks are pickable with some training. It’s just that some designs are too complex, and only a few people can pick them. A good example is Medeco’s high-security lock.

Does a padlock suffer any damage after picking?

No, picking a lock is more like using a key.  There’s no damage whatsoever.


So there you have it! You’ve learned how to open a padlock without breaking it. Now you can take your lock-picking skills anywhere and unlock any door or lock.

Yes, the process can be time-consuming. But once you’ve picked your first lock, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal. You can unlock more padlocks much more quickly in the future.

Remember: be careful and be cautious. And while this is a great skill to have in your back pocket, make sure you follow all local laws when picking locks.

Thanks for reading this article!

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