Essential Locksmith Techniques

A good locksmith needs a variety of tools to help with their work. Some of these include:

Lock picks – these are thin metal shanks with pointed tips that are used to manipulate pins in locks to open them without keys. These tools require a delicate touch and patience.

Tension tools – these are used to hold the pins in place once picked, preventing them from getting pushed back down. They are also helpful when working in tight spaces.

Lock Picking

Whether you work as a locksmith or just enjoy the challenge of opening locked things with nothing but your own two hands, lock picking is an intriguing and rewarding skill. It requires patience and precision but also a willingness to learn and experiment.

A few basic tools are the best way to get started with lock picking. A tension wrench, a pair of tweezers, a practice lock, and a few different picks will all help you start the process of learning how to unlock locks without breaking the law or causing damage.

Pin cylinders are the most common type of lock and will be the first thing that you’ll want to focus on as a beginner. There are a number of ways to open these types of locks, but you’ll probably need a set of picks that are specifically designed for them.

Start by inserting the pick into the keyway and applying a light degree of tension to it. Depending on the lock, this should be similar to how hard you would need to press on your keyboard keys. This light degree of pressure should reveal the first binding pin and allow you to remove it.

The next step is to continue identifying binding pins and then lifting them until the shear line of the plug opens. This will allow the plug to rotate and you’ll be able to insert your key. Once this happens, you can remove the tweezers and you’ve successfully picked your first lock! As your skillset improves you can begin experimenting with raking techniques and more complex lock designs.


The impressioning method is one of the most valuable tools in a locksmith’s toolbox. It allows a locksmith to fashion a working key for the lock without the need to disassemble or destroy any of its internal mechanisms. This is why it has become a go-to technique for locksmiths and lock enthusiasts alike.

In order to perform an impression, a blank key is first prepared by sanding it flat with 600 grit sandpaper. Once the blank has been prepared it is inserted into the lock and then jiggled back and forth. This jiggling action causes the bound pins within the lock to leave tiny markings on the key blank. These markings are then used to guide the key into a proper position within the shear line.

A few things to keep in mind when impressioning are the pin size and the distance between them. This is why it is important to use the correct key blank for any lock you intend to impression. Additionally, there is an optimum amount of turning tension that needs to be applied. Too little and the pins may move too easily and not mark the key; too much and the pins will jam the lock and cause a shear line to be missed.

There are also tools available that can help a locksmith with the impressioning process by allowing them to work with a pressure-responsive material instead of a blank key. This is not an ideal substitute for impressioning however, as it is important to have control over the movement of the key during this process. For this reason, most experienced locksmiths still prefer to impression locks with a blank key.

Drilling & Tinkering

As a locksmith, you may need to disassemble and reassemble locks to rekey them or repair them. To do this, you must have the right tools to get the job done efficiently and without causing any damage. Having the right set of locksmith tools will allow you to work on various different lock types, such as pin tumbler locks, deadbolts, wafer and disc-detainer locks, lever tumbler locks, and warded locks.

In addition to having the right equipment, a skilled locksmith also needs to have the proper knowledge of how each type works and how to unlock or fix them. This requires problem-solving skills that allow you to assess a situation and devise creative solutions in the moment. This is essential for locksmiths, as they often encounter unique and challenging situations that require quick thinking.

You’ll also need a number of other key tools, including a basic tool kit with wrenches, pliers, and a few drill bits. A good kit will include a cordless Dewalt drill and 2 batteries 20v, as well as a variety of standard and phillip’s screw drivers. You should also invest in a specialist locksmith jiggler, a tool that can be used on car locks to manipulate the lock open – it’s a must-have for any professional locksmith.

A broken key extractor is another useful tool, allowing you to remove keys that have snapped in their slot. These can be a nightmare for customers, so it’s important to have this on hand to save them from a stressful situation. You should also have a rekeying set, which allows you to alter an existing lock so that it accepts a new key.

Car Door Lockouts

The American Automobile Association (AAA) rescues 32 million helpless drivers each year, many of them stranded on the side of the road because they’ve locked their keys inside the car. To handle these types of situations, locksmiths need a set of tools for automotive lockouts. These include an auto entry kit, a slim jim set, and a long reach tool. A locksmith’s toolkit should also contain a universal gas cap tryout key to ensure that the locks on all cars can be opened.

Instead of using coat hangers or bobby pins to get into the vehicle, which can cause additional problems like scratching up the window or door, a professional locksmith should use a specialized car lock pick to open a car’s lock. This allows them to save the customer money, avoid damage, and make the problem easier for both parties in the long run.

Another useful tool is a handheld lock scope, which helps locksmiths read wafers and work in small spaces with confidence, no matter the lighting conditions. In addition, a pair of specialist locksmith tweezers will allow them to pick fine pins and other tiny details without damaging the lock’s internal mechanisms.

Some locksmiths have a large skill set to separate them from their competition, including the ability to open safes and cut keys by hand for antique locks. Other locksmiths may have a more specialized focus such as repairing or installing security grilles and gates, but a broad skill set is necessary to succeed in the industry. As an aspiring locksmith, learning as much as possible will give you the best chance of making it in the profession. Workiz offers a free online training platform for those interested in becoming certified as a master locksmith.

Key Duplicators & Key Cutters

A large part of a locksmith’s work is creating new keys for locks that have been lost or damaged. To do this, they must have access to key duplicators and key cutters. These machines help them accurately duplicate a key’s specific dimensions.

There are several different types of key cutting and duplicating machines that a locksmith can use, depending on the type of lock they need to make keys for. For example, if the original key is a bit key that has a skeleton shape with bits on each end, then they’ll need a bit key duplicator. This device measures the depth of each notch on the end of the key and cuts a duplicate key to match. Another option is a tubular machine, which is used for key that are tube-shaped. This is the type of key that some lawn mowers and other household items use.

Another type of key duplicator is a high-security one. These can only cut a limited number of keys that have been assigned to them by the manufacturer. The locks have in-laid features like magnets, different types of metal, or even small computer chips to prevent them from being copied by unauthorized individuals.

If you’re a locksmith, it’s important to keep your toolkit up to date so you can perform better on the job and blow your clients away with your expertise. Having the right tools will make your jobs go much faster and save you a lot of time. So, if your tools haven’t seen an update since MacGyver was on TV, consider adding these 26 essential locksmith tools to your collection. You won’t regret it!