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How to Open a Cylinder Lock

Which Tools Can be Used to Open a Cylinder Lock?

Have you been wondering for a long time how you can best open the cylinder lock in your door? Is it because you often forget your key in the apartment or because you’ve recently started lock picking as a hobby or sport? In this blog, we will discuss two different ways that you can best open a cylinder lock.

It is important to consider carefully whether the lock should remain intact during opening or whether it could be damaged. Lock picking is about not damaging the lock, while locksmiths or locksmiths often damage the lock to open the door.

image - How to Open a Cylinder Lock
How to Open a Cylinder Lock

Part 1: How Does a Standard Cylinder Lock Work?

In the pictures below you can see a standard cylinder lock, a type of lock that is often found indoors. The fact that there is a cylinder inside the lock gives it its name.

Often it is also referred to as “Pin Tumbler Lock”, this term comes from English. This is why the cylinder is often called a “plug”. You can see the cylinder very well on the right of the two pictures.

The so-called housing is located around the cylinder and you can easily see the lock entrance on the front. Normally, the appropriate key is inserted into this entrance to open the lock. If you look closely, you can also see the first pin sitting in the front of the castle entrance in the picture on the left.

Inside the cylinder, several pins have to be brought into the correct position to be able to open the lock. You can see these pins in the picture on the right, which shows the cylinder from the side.

The pins are not yet in the correct position. In this photo, you can also see the lever on the back of the cylinder. Cylinder locks usually contain five to six pins. You may see ten or twelve pens, but as a lockpicker, you only concentrate on the lower ones.

How Do You Get the Pins in Place?

The pins in the cylinder can usually be easily moved into the correct position with the appropriate key. The beard of the key is cut exactly to the height of the pins: each tooth is exactly the right height so that the pins will later be parallel.

The matching key is also the right length to fit into the cylinder. In the picture below you can see that all the pins are placed in parallel and that this allows the cylinder to be rotated. The lever on the back moves with it and ensures that the bolt slides back into the lock. This is how the lock opens.

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How Do You Open the Door Lock Without a Key?

Open the cylinder lock with conventional lock picks Since lock picking is about opening the lock without the right key, we will now explain how you can open the lock with the right lock picking tools. Conventional pick tools are ideal if you do not want to damage the lock when opening it.

The lock picks differ in size, shape, and various special features. Instead of inserting the appropriate key into the lock entrance, insert the appropriate lock pick and use it to bring the pins into the correct position.

If you have set all the pins correctly, the cylinder can be rotated and the door lock opens. Several techniques are used to open the lock. We briefly present the three most common methods here. Also, you can find here 24 hour locksmith services.

Techniques to Open the Lock


To open the lock, the appropriate lock pick is inserted into the lock entrance and the pins are pressed down individually with the help of the tool.

A clamping tool must be used to exert pressure on the lock cylinder so that it is kept under tension. Setting the pens requires a lot of dexterity and patience.


A popular tool for raking a cylinder lock is the hook pick. This lock pick is inserted into the lock and then pulled over the pins from back to front.

With this movement, ideally, all of the pins should fall into place. This method also requires a lot of tact, patience, and luck.


The raking builds on the previous technique. The difference, however, is that the pick is not only moved from back to front, but also from front to back.

The so-called Six Mountains Pick is often used for raking, as this is ideal due to its length and several points. A tensioner is also required for raking and raking to keep the lock cylinder under tension.

In practice, the techniques are often not used alone, but can also be linked to each other for better success. For example, you can “follow up” when raking. This means that after moving back and forth, individual pens are set.

All three methods work well for opening locks. Of course, it depends on the type of lock and the tools available to you which of these techniques is most suitable.

They all require a certain amount of skill and instinct, but above all a lot of practice. You will see – the more experience you gain, the easier and faster the locks can be opened in the end.

However, a standard cylinder lock cannot only be opened with conventional tools and techniques. Here we introduce you to a few other useful tools with which you can open the cylinder lock without any problems.

Open the Cylinder Lock with a Locking Pistol

A manual locking pistol or an electric pick (E-Pick) can also be used to open a cylinder lock without damaging it. Various attachments, which are attached to the front and are suitable for many types of locks, serve as lock picks for a locking pistol.

Manual Locking Gun

To crack the cylinder lock with a manual locking pistol, you need a tensioner with which you can apply tension to the lock cylinder. Then insert the attached pick into the lock and operate the lever.

With the manual locking pistol, the leverage can be carried out manually to set the lockpick on the front of the pistol in motion. The lever of the locking pistol must therefore be operated continuously to bring the pins into the correct position.

Electric Pick

It gets easier if you use an electric pick. In contrast to the manual locking pistol, this is operated electronically. At the front, there is a special steel wire that is set in motion by the motor in the electronic.

So, you don’t have to manually trigger the leverage. Compared to mechanical tools, the E-Pick is relatively expensive and is therefore mostly only used by locksmiths.

Lock Pistol or Lockpick?

Now you are probably wondering whether the purchase of a locking pistol or an electric pick is worthwhile – or whether you can easily open a cylinder lock with conventional lockpicks?

The main difference lies in speed and comfort. The cylinder lock can be opened much faster with an electric pick than with a simple pick and tensioner. A manual or semi-automatic locking pistol also requires more effort and skill.

However, the E-Pick is much more expensive. You should also ask yourself, for what purpose do you want to open the lock? Are you a locksmith and someone has locked themselves out? Then it’s about opening the door as quickly as possible.

However, if you are engaged in picking locks as a hobby or sport, it is more about testing and improving your skills, instinct, and dexterity. Therefore, hobby lock pickers mostly use conventional and simple tools, as opening the lock itself is the challenge.

If you find it difficult to use the pick tools at the beginning, get clear practice locks with which you can practice very well. In this way, you can quickly and easily recognize the various locking mechanisms inside the lock and think about how you can overcome them.

Open the Lock with a Cylinder Opener

You can also use a so-called cylinder opener or puller to open a cylinder lock. Please note, however, that cracking a cylinder lock with the help of a cylinder puller will damage the lock.

When used properly, however, the door remains undamaged, which is the most important thing for most locksmiths. There are also cylinder openers in different designs and functions.

Draw Fix

With this cylinder puller, often also called Zieh-Fix, a special screw is screwed into the lock cylinder of the lock and the pulling tool is attached to it. Due to the force of the pull, the lock cylinder then breaks apart at its weakest point and can be pulled out.