The absolutely easiest technique to train your mind on how to take a cold shower is to simply take baby steps and ease into it. The beautiful thing about this method is that you can do this as radically or gradually as you wish!
During your next shower, start off as you typically would. However, before you get out, challenge yourself to turn down the temperature and stay under the water for 20 seconds.
You don’t have to crank it down to as cold as you possibly can, but absolutely make sure it is enough to where you begin to feel a little nervous – and you will feel nervous.
This will train your mind to push past it’s comfort zone and help you further decrease the temperature during your next shower!
Let the colder water hit you, count to 20, and be done!
This was the first step to taking a full-blown cold shower!
From here it is simply a matter of continuing to decrease the temperature and increase the time under the water.
Eventually, you’ll start to find joy in the cold water and can begin working your way to removing the warm aspect of your shower altogether!
That’s really all there is to the Ease-In technique. Make it your own and do it at your own pace, but be sure to challenge yourself to progress in some way during every shower!
Technique 2: Power Playlist
This technique is very simple and a little more radical, but it gives you a tangible goal and can be a fun little way to challenge yourself!
First, you need to find a couple of hype songs that really get your blood boiling. Then set up a small waterproof speaker in the shower and get the water flowing as cold as you can — you can’t waste your hype song on mediocre water!
Prime your song, hit play, and jump in!
Force yourself to shower and stay under the water for the full duration of the song and once the song ends, count to five and then get out!
Just repeat this every day with as many hype songs as you can until you build your cold shower power playlist!
Eventually, you will find some joy in the cold water and won’t need your hype music to get yours through the experience.
What you will be left with is an amazing habit and music playlist that you can use for other difficult tasks in your life!
Technique 3: Deep Breathing
Alright, this last technique is probably the hardest but it will absolutely amplify the benefits you reap from showering in cold water.
Rather than focusing on music like in the last method, this time we are going to focus on deep and meditative breathing!
On its own, deep breathing has tremendous oxygenating benefits such as lowering stress, improving mental clarity, and increasing energy — to name only a few. You can essentially think of this technique as a cold shower and meditating bundled up into a few cold minutes.
Two birds, one shower!
So to start, get the water running as cold as possible, take a couple of deep breaths in preparation, and jump in!
When the water hits your body your first instinct will be to take a deep breath. Let this reaction occur and slowly exhale this large breath through your nose.
Continue to inhale and exhale deeply through your nostrils while trying to keep your focus off the cold on purely on your breathing!
The reason that we want to use our nose is that because the nostril is smaller than the mouth, it allows our lungs more time to extract oxygen from the air.
By using this technique I absolutely guarantee that you will feel significantly different after your shower — in a fantastic way.
Deep breathing during cold showers is truly addictive and I highly recommend giving it a try!
So that about covers our techniques for teaching your mind how to take cold showers. Now let’s cover a couple of nifty little tips that can help you get the most out of your cold showering experience!
Technique 4: Contrast Shower
A cool little technique that you can do to gain the most from your next cold shower is something called “contrast showering.”
This is when you alternate between cold and hot water. While this isn’t considered a “pure” cold shower, having radical changes in water temperature has some very awesome health benefits that cold water alone can’t fully provide.
Firstly because blood is prioritized to different parts of the body at different temperatures, alternating between hot and cold water can do wonders to improve blood circulation.
When your body is exposed to cold water, blood is pushed to your organs to keep them warm. However, when exposed to hot water, blood rushes to your skin.
Helps the Lymphatic System
Your lymphatic system is a part of your immune system that functions by pumping a fluid called lymph through separate vessels. This lymph fluid cleanses your body by carrying away toxins and waste.
Just like blood, lymph fluid travels through vessels, however, unlike blood, this fluid is pumped through the body by muscle contractions and not the heart.
This means that if you aren’t using your muscles, this fluid isn’t flowing and can become stagnant.
However, by alternating between hot and cold water these lymph vessel contract and relax causing them to pump the lymph fluid without muscle movement.
So besides giving your body a break from the cold, contrast showering can have some pretty significant effects on your overall health!
So as you can see, teaching yourself how to take a cold shower doesn’t have to be pure torture. There are a few simple tricks that you can utilize to make the process easier and more fun!
Cold showers may at first suck – really really suck – but the longer you do it, the more joy you’ll find in it. It truly is a life-changing habit that can rippling effects throughout your entire life from its amazing health benefits to its astonishing effects on your willpower and focus.
Bathing in cold water is a part of our history and evolution, and it seems from modern science that the closer we bond with that history the more benefits that shower upon us!
So take up the challenge and teach yourself how to take cold showers. You won’t regret it!
The first awesome benefit of bathing in cold water is fat loss! Cold water on the body can achieve this in some cool ways!
It’s not very well known, but the human body actually consists of two different types of fat – white fat and brown fat.
White fat (white adipose tissue) is the stuff that hangs around your waist or below your neck that you hate, despise, and work tirelessly to get rid of! It’s considered the dangerous type of fat that creates a higher risk of ailments such as diabetes or heart disease. We’ll just call it bad fat.
Brown fat (brown adipose tissue) is a different animal that is consumed by the body to provide heat. However, when when the body burns brown fat, it also burns calories!
When taking a cold shower, your body activates this brown fat to help protect you from the cold and in the process burns extra calories.
As a matter in fact, according to Dr. Aaron Cypess of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, just three ounces of brown fat is enough to burn 400 – 500 extra calories a day! It was also found that exposure to cold temperatures caused a “15-fold increase in the metabolic rate of brown fat” which could result in losing 9 extra pounds a year!
How cool is that?
On top of this, regular cold showers can also increase your metabolic rate helping you burn more calories at every point in the day – including sitting in front of the TV!
So if you are looking for some help to shred a few extra pounds, cold showers are nice little addition to throw into your routine!
2. Fights Stress & Increases Emotion Resilience
If you are easily frustrated or anxious this is one of the benefits of cold showers that should single-handedly make you want to jump into an ice bath!
The fact is, cold water REALLY sucks and when it touches your body it is extremely stressful. However, by placing yourself in this stressful situation your brain begins to learn how to deal with that stress. You begin to adapt to this stress and build a tolerance to it.
This tolerance is called emotional resilience and basically determines how reactive you are in stressful situations.
In addition to this mental rewiring, cold showers also help lower the levels of uric acid and boost glutathione in the blood — which also helps reduce overall stress!
So if you are looking to be a more stoic and emotionally grounded individual, consider throwing a cold shower in your daily toolbox!
3. Increases Willpower
Imagine how much different your life would be if you completed 1% more every day than you do now? It would be significantly different in a very short period of time.
The fact is, every day we fight the same old fight between the things we need to do and the urge not to do them. Our willpower is typically the telling factor of how that battle goes.
I’m sure you have heard the saying that willpower is a muscle and like any muscle, it is only as strong as you make it.
The more that you do things that you don’t want to do, the easier it becomes to do them. Furthermore, when you make a habit of doing things that you absolutely HATE, it can become a very strong force that can have rippling effects throughout your life!
So if you are looking to build up your mental strength and discipline, start your morning with a cold shower!
4. Helps Fight Depression
If you are dealing with some things in your life or have any degree of depression, taking a cold shower may be able to help give you a little relief.
In addition, when the cold hits your skin, your nerve endings send electrical impulses to your brain that can have a “feel good” effect and help reduce the effect of depression!
So if you are feeling a little down in the dumps, turn the handle from red to blue!
5. Reduces Inflammation
One of the cooler – no pun intended – benefits of cold showers is its life-prolonging effects!
In recent years, medical science has been finding that inflammation is one of the major players in a vast amount of diseases including heart disease, 2 diabetes, depression, and even cancer!
While cold showers have for many years helped athletes reduce muscle inflammation, cold water can also help reduce other types of bodily inflammation that can have more serious health effects.
So if your goal is to live forever, a cold shower is a must!
6. Softer Skin & Hair
In addition to helping you live longer, cold showers can also help you look younger!
The cold water helps your skin and hair stay soft, supple, and hydrated because it doesn’t strip away as many of the natural oils that warm water does!
In addition, cold showers can help keep your hair stay strong and healthy by increasing the grip each hair follicle has on your scalp.
So if you suffer from dandruff, dry skin, acne, or even hair-loss, this awesome benefit is for you!
7. Fall Asleep Faster & Sleep Better
One of the greater benefits of cold showers is its ability to regulate your body temperature in a way that is conducive to sleep.
It’s been found that body temperature is directly correlated with our circadian rhythm and as night approaches our brain sends neural signals to the body telling it to lower its core temperature.
However, we can trick our brain into the same result with a simple cold shower!
In addition, a cold shower can also help keep you asleep by reducing inflation, cortisol, and stress that typically play a role in restfulness!
So take a cold shower and get some good sleep! With all that extra sleep you may as well learn how to lucid dream!
8. Wake Up Faster
It’s likely no surprise, but taking a cold shower in the morning will wake your ass up faster than a slap to the groin.
So if you’re not a morning person or just need that extra push, crank that temperature down and give yourself the start you need to conquer the day!
9. Deep Meditative Breathing
The single greatest benefit of cold showers is that it forces you to take very deep and rapid breaths that are in many ways meditative and packed full of benefits!
The first thing that you naturally do when jumping into a cold shower is to take a huge breath, which is then followed by more deep breaths.
Deep breathing has a host of benefits such as:
Improving mental clarity
Detoxifying the body
Lowering blood pressure
Simply put, the benefit of taking a cold shower is you are forced to put more oxygen into your body and mind. Not a bad deal!
10. Improves Circulation
Who doesn’t want to have better blood circulation? It keeps your fingers warms let’s your little jr. come out to play!
A cool little benefit of cold showers is that it helps overall cardiovascular health. When your body gets cold, blood rushes to your organs to keep them warm.
Furthermore, warm water pulls blood to your skin, so if you alternate between hot and cold water you’ll have a double whammy benefiting your cardiovascular health.
11. Faster Muscle Recovery
Whether you’re an athlete or someone who did something “too athletic” for their current physical abilities, cold showers are a great way to help your muscles recover fast!
According to a 2009 study, cold showers help your body recover by reducing the lactic acid build-up, improving circulation to the muscles, and decreasing inflammation!
You can amplify the effects by alternating between hot and cold water to really get the blood moving.
Cold showers — as we’ll see in a moment — also increase testosterone which also aids in muscle recovery!
By throwing cold showers into your life you might never fear leg day again!
12. Increased Immunity
Unless you’re 12 years old looking for an excuse to stay home from school, getting sick sucks!
However, you can kick your immune system into overdrive by taking regular cold showers!
According to a 1993 study by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England, individuals who took regular cold showers saw an increase in white blood cell count. It is believed that the increase in metabolic rate causes the body to create more white blood cells.
So if you get sick more often than you like or just want to keep your immune system one step ahead of the game, cold showers are the only medicine you need!
13. Boosts Testosterone
If you are a guy one of the absolute best benefits of taking a cold shower is that it increases your overall testosterone! This by itself has a host of other amazing benefits such as decreasing fat, increasing muscle, stronger bones, better libido, improved mood, and better mental capacity.
As a matter of fact, the male testicles hang on the outside of the body just so they can stay cool.
So if you are a guy looking for a little edge, a cold shower will literally put that manly hair on your chest!
14. Increased Fertility
In addition to increasing testosterone and circulation, cold showers have another awesome benefit to male sexual health.
In today’s world, buying things is harder than ever.
With so many options plaguing the market, choosing between products feels like pulling a number out of a hat – you never know what you are going to get.
Deciding which types of lock picks to include in your first lock pick set is no exception!
With all the squiggly and hooky things out there to buy, how does anyone trying to learn how to pick a lock know what is good and what is not?
The purpose of this guide is to break down the confusion surrounding the different types of lock picks and give you a solid understanding of some of the more common and useful lock picks.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make a more informed decision on which picks to buy and how to use them!
However, before we jump into the best types of lock picks, let’s quickly cover a common trap that many beginning lock pickers fall into. By avoiding this common trap, you will not only save money but progress your lock picking skills much faster!
There is a common misconception surround all hobbies and skills that the tools make the master. That only those with the most and best tools can ever truly master their craft.
This misconception is dangerous because it bases your expectations and your perceived skill on your tools and not on what is important — like practice, knowledge, technique, and more practice.
Equipment doesn’t matter as much as you think.
The amount of time that you spend behind the pick matters more than the pick itself.
Let’s look at two reasons why you should consider starting with fewer picks.
Reason 1: Slight Variations
The truth about lock picks is that there are only two types. There are hooks for single pin picking and rakes for raking.
Every single pick is just a variation of one of these two types that most times don’t offer anything different in terms of utility. You can buy 14 different hooks, but the reality is they all do the same thing — individually lift pins.
You don’t need 14 lock picks that do the same thing — at least not to start.
Now, this isn’t always the case. There are a few hooks and rakes that perform significantly different than other picks of their type, and we will be sure to cover them below.
But if they aren’t on this tiny list, then there isn’t anything special about them compared to other picks.
Reason 2: Broken Patterns
There is an age-old saying, “Jack of all picks, Master of none!”
Maybe that’s not the saying, but the meaning holds.
When we are picking a lock, we received feedback from our pick, such as bumping into a pin, squeezing between two pins stacks to reach a higher cut pin, or even setting a pin.
The feedback that we receive from the pick is our eyes and ears within the lock. But this feedback is also how we learn and get better at lock picking. We begin to build patterns around what we feel and what we believe it means.
However, if we change the feedback we receive eight different times – such as using eight slightly different picks – we destroy our ability to form those patterns and learn.
It’s better to master a few picks than it is to dabble with many.
So, in a nutshell, you’ll get much better at lock picking by spending more on locks than you will from buying a ton of different types of lock picks.
So grab a few high-quality picks or a good small form lock pick set and leave the rest behind.
With that, let’s get into the meat of this guide and cover some of the better and more useful types of lock picks — starting with those used for single pin picking!
NOTE: This guide will be discussing tools related to picking pin tumbler locks. While many of these tools are useful for other types of locks, any advice given in this guide is to use them on pin tumblers.
Single Pin Picking
Single pin picking is the act of manipulating a single pin at a time.
In my opinion, it is the purest form of lock picking as it takes a tremendous amount more skill, precision, and practice to develop and master.
Single pin picking is also significantly more reliable because you are not just bumping and humping your way to an open lock like when raking.
Instead, you are moving components in a precise and logical way and adapting your movements to how the lock responds. You can think of single pin picking like the Tango where your actions are a response to your partner, and their movements are a response to yours.
However, because single pin picking is precise and logical, you need a type of lock pick that matches these qualities. You need a type of lock pick that is agile and maneuverable — that isn’t going to bump things unintentionally.
So let’s look at a few picks that gush these qualities!
1.The Short Hook
The standard Short Hook is hands down the most versatile and useful pick and is an absolute staple to any pickers toolbox.
The power of this pick comes from its moderate hook that is just long enough to set most pins with ease, but short enough that it’s easy to maneuver in the lock.
In addition to single pin picking, the Short Hook is also a great pick to use for other various techniques of raking – such as zipping, bitch picking, rocking, or reverse picking!
However, the one area in which this pick falls short is literally when it falls short. Because it has a shorter hook, it sometimes may not have the reach to fully set shorter cut pins that are behind longer cut pins.
But regardless of this literal shortcoming, if you could only have one type of lock pick, the Short Hook should always be first in line to the party!
2. The Gem
The Gem is another favorite among many lock pickers as it gives you many of the remarkable benefits of the short hook, but with a little more reach.
However, the extended point on this pick can be a double edge sword.
To the experienced picker, this pointy tip is a gift from God that gives them more precision and accurate control over their actions. It’s like trying to hit a button on your TV remote with your finger rather than your fist. The more precise the tool, the easier it is to accomplish precise activities.
However, to newer pickers, this pointy tip can cause some real emotional pain. Because it is pointy, there is a high chance of pins slipping off the pick as you lift them. To continue the nutty analogies – it’s far easier to balance a penny on an un-sharpened pencil than it is a sharpened one.
If you had to choose between the Short Hook and the Gem, I would highly recommend grabbing the Short Hook first.
While the Half-Diamond doesn’t exactly scream “PRECISION,” it does provide us with a pretty unique benefit while single pin picking.
The one thing that makes this pick awesome is its ramp-like form.
If you can imagine for a moment dragging this pick across the pins – it would gently raise the pins as they went up the ramp and then gently lower them as they go down the ramp.
Now, this can be extremely useful when trying to find binding pins.
All you have to do is apply light tension and gently drag this pick across the pins until you find a pin that causes the pick to move down rather than the pin move upward. It is simply that easy to locate binding pins with the half-diamond!
However, this pick has two downsides.
It has a very wide base that makes it hard to squeeze between pins. So if you have a lock with a radical bitting (high – low – high – low), this pick likely won’t do you much good.
It’s a pretty massive pick overall that sometimes won’t fit into the keyway at all.
To sum the Half-Diamond up, it can be a good beginner pick that can help you orientate yourself in the lock, but when it comes to picking higher-skilled locks, the Half-Diamond will start to lose its glamour.
So use it if you have it or if you’re genuinely interested in trying it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one.
4. Deep Hook
The Deep Hook — if you didn’t guess — has a longer hook that gives us a deeper reach.
The benefit of this added length is that it can reach further between pin stacks without bumping the adjacent pins.
This makes it a terrific weapon against shorter pins behind longer pins or when dealing with heavy warding and paracentric keyways. Because of their reach, you can easily lift the pins without having to maneuver your pick through the warding!
However, there is a trade-off. Because the Deep Hook is longer, it is also much more intrusive and harder to maneuver.
So it’s not ideal to use a deeper hook as a primary pick, but instead as a secondary one. If you find that you can’t easily reach a pin with a shorter hook, you can swap over to a Deep Hook to solve your problems!
5. Peterson Reach
The Peterson Reach is a little bit of an oddball pick, but it kicks some ass.
This type of lock pick is what we refer to as an “offset hook.” The goal of an offset hook is to take benefits of the shorter and deeper hook but minimize their downsides.
This is typically done by creating a curved-like shank that can pivot around pin stacks without bumping them!
The Peterson Reach is an excellent example of this and is literally curved!
It also has a rounded tip that can make finding and lifting pins feel buttery smooth. But sadly, nothing is perfect. The Peterson Reach has the fatal flaw of being very thin and fragile. If you have a heavy hand – as most beginners do – you may find yourself snapping this poor guy’s little neck.
That being said, the Peterson Reach is my favorite pick, and there are truly few locks that this little guy won’t absolutely slaughter! I like to compare it with the killer bunny from Monty Python and The Holy Grail!
6. Deforest Diamond
The Deforest Diamond is another standard offset pick that blends the power of the Half-Diamond with a little more reach.
The main benefit of this pick is its ability to slide under the pins – much like the half-diamond – and then leverage them up by rotating the pick, similar to a crowbar. This allows us to get under the pins without lowering the pick, which can be a blessing in tighter keyways.
However, just like the Half-Diamond, its fat base can make it difficult to squeeze between pins and sometimes even fit in the keyway at all.
In my experience, I have never found the Deforest Diamond to be a fantastic pick. However, many skilled pickers better than myself swear by it, so your mileage may vary.
That will do it for single pin picking!
Raking is the act of manipulating multiple pins at the same time with the goal of bumping them to the shear line and setting them as quickly as possible. It is a type of lock picking that is very imprecise and unpredictable.
If we jump off our previous analogy of single pin picking being like the Tango, raking is much more like club dancing. You do whatever the hell you want and whatever happens, happens.
Because the goal of raking is to manipulate as many pins as possible, the best type of lock pick is one that touches the most pins at any given moment.
This is why most rakes have tons of humps and bumps along their shafts.
However, the downside of rakes is that they are almost useless against locks with security pins and sidebars — so don’t expect to be able to rake your way to lock picking mastery!
Let’s look at three of the most common rakes for causing havoc in the lock!
The Bogota — also known as the Bogie or Pagoda — is one of the most powerful and popular rakes there is!
The power of the Bogota comes from its extremely polished triple peaks that glide through the keyway like a pickle flying out of a cheeseburger.
With each pass through the lock, the Bogota has three chances to strike and set each pin – except for some of the pins in the back where some of the peaks can’t reach.
This type of lock pick is also extremely effective against radically pinned locks that have a high – low – high – low pin arrangement.
2. Snake Rake
The Snake Rake – also known as the C Rake or Double Rake – is one of the first rakes ever developed and manufactured. But regardless of its age, it’s still a powerful little rake that’s a staple to many lock pick sets.
Its main benefit comes from its smaller size and length. It can more easily fit into smaller keyways and is much more maneuverable than other rakes such as the Bogota.
It’s a simple rake that you can never go wrong with having.
3. City Rake
The last rake is the oddball of the group – the City Rake! It is also referred to as the L Rake or Long Ripple.
The City Rake gets its name from its resemblance to a city skyline! Can you see it?
Now, this pick is a little different than most other rakes in both how it looks and how we use it!
Rather than using it in scrubbing motion, the City Rake is best used in a rocking motion! Check out the animation below!
The City Rake is also very powerful against pin arrangements where there are shorter pins in the middle and longer pins in the front and back.
This all being said, you can also find success using it as a traditional scrubbing rake as well!
I hope this guide on these different types of lock picks brought a little order to the chaos and gave a little clarity of what all these hooky squiggly things are and their purpose!
Remember it’s not about how many picks you have, but instead about how you use the picks that you do have.
Forget that set of 104 different types of lock picks and focus and mastering only a few. Any of the picks above are an excellent place to start when selecting or building your first lock pick set!
However, at the very minimum, I’d grab a short hook, a deeper or offset hook for those tricky pins, and a rake to play around with. With these three simple picks, you can easily defeat 99% of pin tumbler locks!
So go forth and conquer, and if you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave those below!
I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that you want to learn how to pick a lock?
I’m psychic, right?
At one point or another, everyone has wanted — or needed — to learn how to pick a lock, but few ever pursue that desire.
You are different. You are here ready to learn this remarkable skill and, believe it or not, it’s way easier than you think! Lock picking is simple and very addicting, with over a million lock picking enthusiasts around the world — no joke — all seeking that fresh challenge a new lock provides!
But again, you are here ready to learn, so let’s not dilly dally and get into the topic at hand. This lock picking guide will instill within you a deep foundation of how locks work and how you can begin to defeat them!
However, to pick a lock, you must first understand how a lock works, so we’ll start there and then get on to the fun stuff!
Imagine for a moment that you have two pieces of paper, one sitting on top of the other.
Now with very little effort, you could take that top piece and slide it along the top of the bottom piece and it would move freely with very little resistance.
However, if you took a pencil and stuck it through both pieces of paper, they would become bound to each other and would no longer be able to move independently of one another. Essentially, they would become “locked” to each other.
This little paper model, as demonstrated above, is the simplest example of how most locks function.
But let’s dive a little deeper and take a closer look at what is truly occurring. Obviously, the two pieces of paper are bound to each other because there is a pencil crammed through both of them.
However, what is also true, and more important to note, is that we have also obstructed the space between them — that is the line that separates the two pieces of paper. This line is what we refer to as the shear line and is the absolute foundation of how all locks work and, as we will soon see, the key to defeating them!
The moment that we remove that obstruction — the pencil — from the shear line, the two pieces of paper will once again be able to move freely.
But lock’s aren’t flat and they sure as hell aren’t made from paper and pencils, so let’s change a few things and add a few more components to this simple lock and see what we get.
The Pin Tumbler Lock
There are a ton of different types of locks roaming the world today – from the tubular locks that you find on vending machines to combination locks securing safes. But of all these different types of locks, only one is king, the pin tumbler lock!
The pin tumbler lock is an extremely simple design that makes up over 90% of the locks used throughout the world.
Additionally, if you can learn to pick a pin tumbler lock, you can essentially transfer that skill to any other type of lock in one way or another!
These two reasons alone make the pin tumbler the best type of lock to begin your lock picking journey! With that, let’s dive a little deeper into how the pin tumbler lock works!
These locks are made up of 6 primary components that we affect while picking. Let’s quickly go over each of them!
1. The Cylinder
The cylinder of the lock is nothing more than a little container that “houses” the rest of the components. This part is typically what slides into a door or padlock. If you jump back to our simple paper lock above, the cylinder of the pin tumbler lock is the top piece of paper if it were wrapped around the rest of the lock.
The cylinder creates the upper limit of the shear line and can also be referred to as the shell, housing, or body of the lock.
2. The Plug
The plug is the bottom piece of paper from our simple lock. However, rather than shearing across a flat surface like in our simple lock, the plug is a cylinder that rotates freely within the housing, creating a rotational shear line. The front of the plug is also where the key is inserted and on the back is either a cam or tailpiece which retracts the latch and opens the lock when rotated.
The plug creates the bottom limit of the shear line!
3. The Shear Line
The shear line is nothing more than the gap between the housing and the plug. Just like in the simple lock above, it is the conceptual line in which the plug rotates in the housing. If this line is obstructed in any way, the plug and housing will become “locked” to each other – thus, the plug will not turn.
Only when the shear line has been cleared of any obstructions will the plug once again be able to rotate freely. The shear line is one of the most important concepts to understand when it comes to lock picking!
4. Key Pins
In the pin tumbler lock, there are typically two types of pins. The key pins are the lower set and have the task of reading the “cuts” of the key. This is done by using a variety of different length pins and then cutting a key that matches those pin lengths.
If you look at any key, you will notice that there are high spots and low spots. These spots are what we call “cuts,” and in a moment, we will see the role they play in how the lock works!
5. Driver Pins
The driver pins are the upper set of pins whose job is to obstruct the shear line. They are basically the pencil from our simple lock above! Unlike the key pins, the driver pins are usually all the same length.
6. The Springs
Last up is the springs and they have two jobs. Their first job is to force everything down into the plug and keep the driver pins at the shear line when there is no key in the lock. Their second job is to push the key pins against the key, which helps read the cuts.
Without the springs, the pins could get stuck anywhere in the pin chamber, which could make using a key impossible.
Alright, now that you understand the core components of the pin tumbler, let’s take a look at how everything works together to make a fully functioning lock!
The following animation illustrates the pin tumbler lock in action!
As you can see, when the key is shoved into the plug, it pushes upward on the key pins. Because the biting of the key and the lengths of the key pins have been cut to match, the key pins will rise flush with the shear line causing the driver pins to exit the plug fully.
When the gap between the key pins and the driver pins is precisely that of the shear line, the key can rotate the plug to disengage the lock.
In short, the key has removed all obstructions — the pins — from the shear line!
By understanding this process, we can begin to see what we have to accomplish to pick a lock.
In essence, lock picking is simply the act of mimicking the key by manipulating the pins to the same state they would be at if the correct key were inserted.
But how do we do that? How can we hope to keep four or five pins from obstructing the shear line without the constant pressure of the key? How do we keep them from falling back into the plug?
The answer is pretty cool!
Why We Can Pick Locks
No matter how hard you try, you can never create two things exactly the same. In some way, there will always be something different between them — perfection is impossible!
This also applies to the manufacturing of locks and their components. No two locks, pins, nor springs are the same. They will always vary in some way from each other and their original design. However, because of this variance, things will never fit together perfectly and there will always be some degree of slop between components.
But it is this slop that gives us the ability to pick locks and when it comes to the pin tumbler lock, the imperfect drilling of the pin chambers is what makes lock picking truly possible!
During the production of the plug, the pin chambers are drilled down an imaginary centerline so that they are lined up perfectly with each other.
But remember, nothing can be done perfectly and as a result, these pin chambers are drilled slightly off-center and are misaligned from one another.
But how do misaligned holes help us pick locks?
There is a concept that we lock pickers call “binding.” Imagine sticking a screwdriver into the keyway of a lock and trying and rotate the plug like it was a key. But because the driver pins are still at the shear line they will stop the rotation of the plug and in the process become bound between the housing and the plug. This is binding.
However, because of inaccurate drilling, some pins will bind before others. The furthest pin off-center in the direction of rotation will be the first pin to bind and stop the rotation of the plug. This pin that is the first to bind is what we call “the binding pin.”
Key Takeaway:Because perfection is impossible, the pin chambers on the plug are drilled off-center. This creates a binding defect when the plug is rotated. Because there is a binding defect, one pin will bind before the rest and with more force. This pin is called the binding pin.
If you have to, read through this section once more and be absolutely certain that you understand the concept of the binding pin. As you’ll see in a moment the binding pin is the literal key to lock picking!
Before we jump into the actual process of picking a lock, let’s cover the essentials of lock picking tools!
Lock Picking Tools 101
Lock picking tools are often one of the most confusing and daunting parts about getting started in this awesome craft. With so many different types of lock picks and random-looking gizmos, choosing your first set of lock picking tools can be a real pain in the ass — but it doesn’t have to be.
The truth is, you don’t need very many tools to get started or progress at lock picking. Even advanced pickers only use a few different picks — even if they own hundreds of tools to choose from.
When it comes to picking the pin tumbler lock, there are only three different types of tools:
Every tool out there falls under one of these three categories. So let’s briefly cover each and look at a good beginner set that has everything you need to get a running start at lock picking!
Hooks are narrow and pointy types of lock picks that are very pinpoint and precise within the lock. This precision makes them ideal weapons for single pin picking where you are required to locate and manipulate one pin at a time.
There are a variety of different styles of hooks that range from different lengths to different shapes. However, all perform the same task of manipulating individual pins one at a time.
The absolute best hook to start with is the standard short hook as shown above!
Rakes are basically the opposite of the hook. They are typically erratic looking and are designed with a ton of humps and bumps that helps them manipulate as many pins as possible in the shortest amount of time. This makes them ideal for raking where you rapidly and randomly pull them across the pins with the goal of setting multiple pins at once.
Just like the hook, there is a wide variety of rakes. However, all perform the same task of manipulating multiple pins at the same time.
The absolute best rake to start with as a beginner is the Bogota as shown above!
3. Tensioning Tools
Funny enough the most important lock picking tool is one very few non-pickers know about.
It’s called a tensioning tool!
The tensioning tool is used to apply torque to the plug and bind the pins. Without this tool, lock picking is impossible.
There are several different styles of tensioning tools that all perform the task of applying “tension” to the lock’s plug. However, the absolute best type to start with is called the “straight tension wrench” as shown above. I highly recommend grabbing several different sizes for different sized locks and keyways!
Best Beginner Lock Pick Set
If you are looking for your first lock picking set, my recommendation is the GSP Ghost Set over at Art of Lock Picking!
It provides you with an excellent selection of lock picks and tensioning tools — all of which are in surgical grade 420 stainless steel. The lock picks also include plastic molded handles that will keep the picks from digging into your fingers.
If the GSP Ghost set doesn’t tickle your pickle, I would highly suggest looking for a set that has a similar setup!
Before we move on I do wish to note that it’s far better to own a few high-quality lock picks than it is to own a bunch of crappy ones.Buy quality and stay far away from Amazon lock picks! You can get a quality set of pick for cheaper from manufacturers like Peterson, Sparrows, or SouthOrd that will serve you far better!
Getting Started With Tension
It’s finally time to learn how to use your first tool — the tension wrench!
This little guy does two very important things:
Firstly, it gives you the leverage you need to rotate the plug and create a binding pin. Remember, the binding pin is the key to lock picking.
Secondly, it holds the pins that you lift with your pick above the shear line — much like the key!
Here is how it works!
You begin by placing the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway and applying a very light degree of force in the direction that the key would turn to disengage the lock — typically clockwise.
Also, by light force, I mean something similar to the amount of force that it takes to press a key on your keyboard. It’s that light.
This light degree of force — or tension — is typically enough to create a binding pin. This is where you learn the importance of the binding pin!
If you take a pick and lift that binding pin to the shear line — or the height that the correct key would lift it to — the bind will break and the plug will continue to rotate ever so slightly until it binds on another pin — the next binding pin.
However, something really cool also happens!
Because the plug slightly rotates when the driver pin passes the shear line, there is a small ledge that is produced by the plug that the driver pin can set on. This is called “setting a pin” and as a result, the driver pin stays above the shear line and out of the plug!
To help fully understand setting a pin, check out the animation below!
Lock picking is simply the act of creating binding pins and setting them at the shear line. It really is as simple as that!
So now that we fully understand the purpose of the binding pin and what we are trying to accomplish within the lock, we can finally start cramming our picks into some keyways and learn once and for all how to pick a lock!
Introduction to Single Pin Picking
Alright, now that all the conceptual crap is out of the way, we can finally take a crack at actually picking a lock with our first style of lock picking — single pin picking!
Single pin picking, or SPP for short, is the style of lock picking in which you locate and set one pin at a time and is considered the purest form of lock picking.
While SPP is not always the quickest method of bypassing a lock, it is the most reliable and most skillful. If you truly wish to get good at lock picking, focusing on single pin picking is the quickest route to developing your lock picking skills.
With that, let’s learn single pin picking!
Step 1: Use Tension to Create the First Binding Pin
Remember, to set pins at the shear line and successfully pick a lock, you have to apply a light rotational force to the plug and create your first binding pin
To do so, start by inserting the short end of your tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway and applying very light tension to the plug. Be certain to maintain this force on the your tension wrench throughout the entire process of picking the lock.
Step 2: Locate the First Binding Pin
Now that you have created your first binding pin, you have to find it! But how?
Because the binding pin will have more “binding” force on it than the other pins, the binding pin will be stiffer and harder to lift than the other non-binding pins. So basically, you are just looking for a pin that is not loose!
Insert your hook type pick all the way into the lock and locate the rearmost pin. Very gently begin to lift each pin and gauge how it feels.
Continue to probe each pin until you find the pin that doesn’t feel like the others and is more difficult to move.
Step 3: Lift and Set the First Binding Pin
Now that you have found the first binding pin, you have to set it!
Gently lift the binding pin until you feel a slight rotation on the plug or hear an audible click. Either of these two indicators typically indicates a successfully set driver pin!
Step 4: Locate and Set the Second Binding Pin
You have located and set your first binding pin, but now the lock is binding on a new pin.
Repeat the same steps of gently lifting each pin until you once again locate another pin that feels stiff and difficult to move. As before, gently continue to lift that pin until you feel a slight rotation on the plug or hear an audible click.
Step 5: Repeat the Process of Locating and Setting Binding Pins
Continue the process of locating binding pins and lifting them to the shear line. Once every pin has been set, there will no longer be any obstruction to the shear line the plug will fully rotate and the lock will open!
You have just picked your first lock!
Note: If you can no longer find a binding pin, you have likely overset or underset a pin. Release the tension to let the pins drop and restart the process over again. If you still can’t find a binding pin, try applying slightly more force to the plug!
Introduction to Raking
Up next is our second style of lock picking — raking!
Raking is a very volatile and radical style of picking whose goal is to bump as many pins to the shear line as possible in the quickest amount of time.
While it can be a lot of fun and is a very quick method of bypassing many basic locks, it will only get you so far and can become almost worthless when you start getting into locks with additional security features such as sidebars and security pins.
There are several different types of raking. The method we are going to cover is called scrubbing and is basically the same motion as brushing our teeth!
Step 1: Apply Tension to Create a Binding Pin
The first step is once again creating a binding pin.
Insert the short end of your tension wrench into the bottom of the keyway and apply a very light force to the plug!
Step 2: Insert Lock Pick and Scrub the Pins
Next, insert your rake all the way to the rear of the lock and gently lift upward so that your pick slightly lifts the pins.
With a decent amount of speed begin to scrub the pins as if you are scrubbing the top of your teeth with your toothbrush. Change the angle, the height, and the speed of your pick as you rake
If the lock doesn’t open with 10 seconds, release tension to reset the lock begin again. It’s very common to have to reset the lock several times before you successfully rake a lock.
Continue to scrub the pins until the plug fully rotates and the lock opens!
If you still can’t manage to rake your lock, try to apply slightly heavier or lighter tension. Raking is truly more about applying the right tension than it is about lock pick control!
Important Note: Be careful with your tension with raking. While you can get away with heavier tension during single pin picking, too much tension while raking can result in a broken pick.
I hope this guide successfully helped you learn how to pick a lock and revealed to you that lock picking is not as difficult as it may first seem.
That lock picking is nothing more than taking advantage of manufacturing defects and mimicking the function of the key!
I hope you see that getting started in the awesome craft doesn’t require a ton of tools. A high-quality lock pick set with a few good picks and tensioning tools is all you need to start slaying locks and progress at this amazing hobby.
Lock picking can be a very rewarding skill and I truly hope you pursue it beyond this simple guide.
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