The 6 Most Common Lock Picks (And 2 You Shouldn't Be Caught Without)

The world of lock-picking is complex. For the novice hoping to jump in, figuring out where to begin can be a daunting task. Let us make it a bit easier for you with this handy and simple guide to the 6 most common lock picks! Among them are the two most popular tools that no lock picking enthusiast should ever be caught without.

First Things First: Get Thyself a Tension Wrench.

This one is so essential it's not even part of the actual list. If you hope to use any other other popular lock picks, a tension wrench is necessary. The tension wrench is inserted into the keyway like a normal key, and is used to apply torque and hold the pins in place once they’ve been properly aligned.

1. Half-Diamond (Triangle) Pick

Fourth from left in the above picture, the half diamond can be used on both wafer and disc locks, for working individual pins and for raking. The wide variety of ways you can use a triangle pick makes it the most versatile pick; it's a must-have in every lock picking kit. If your kit has nothing but a tension wrench and a triangle, you have an excellent start.

2. Hook Pick

The hook is the most basic of picks, used only for working individual pins.

3. Ball (Round) Pick

The ball (also known as a round) pick has a full- or half-circle shape at the end, and is commonly used on wafer locks.

4. Rake Pick

The rake pick, also often called the snake, is the most essential pick next to the half-diamond. Rake picks are literally raked across all pins to bounce them up until they reach the sheer line. Raking is also known as scrubbing, and is performed by inserting the rake into the keyway to push up all pins at once; the rake is then removed quickly while turning the plug with the tension wrench, causing some or all of the pins to land in the correct position.

5. Wafer Pick

A wafer pick is a special picks made specifically for wafer locks, although depending on who you ask within the lock-picking community, some will argue that a wafer lock can be picked with a regular pick and doesn't need one that's been specially designed. Wafer tumbler locks are generally considered easier to pick than pin tumbler locks because the keyhole is wider, and the wafers can't be pushed too far in like pins can.

6. Warded Pick

You may know a warded pick by it's more common name- the skeleton key. A warded pick is used for opening warded locks, which use a very simple design: a set of obstructions (wards) prevents the lock from opening without the correct key. A warded pick has been pared down to its most essential parts (thus the term skeleton). opening without the correct key.