My husband has all sorts of unique skills, including lock picking. When my main character needed to escape from a tricky place, I turned to my better half to teach me how to get her out. There are all kinds of ways to pick a lock, but today I'll focus on how to do it with bobby pins, a lock pick set, and a bump key.
If a pesky lock is in your character's way, here are some tricks she can try:
According to my law-abiding husband, bobby pins work best on old locks. He taught me how to pick an old, rusty Master lock. And it worked! Here's an overview of the process:
Use two bobby pins, or break one in half. The character strips off the rubber ends with her teeth. Stick one pin in on the fat side of the lock, and bend it down. Stick the other pin in next to it and "rake the tumblers." Tumblers are spring loaded, so she needs to apply pressure here to press them down. Rock back and forth with one pin, jiggle the other pin and turn clockwise. Voila! A picked lock.
Additional tip: early in the story, I established that my main character wore bobby pins in her hair. I also included a brief, drive-by lock picking lesson.
Lock Pick Set
This wouldn't have worked in my story, because the main character didn't have access to a tool like this. But if yours does, here's the skinny:
Lock pick sets include several shapes and sizes, so your lock picker will choose what works best for her. But she'll need two pieces: 1) The "raker," which is a thin, flat piece of metal with a nub at the end; and 2) The "prying tool," which is a flat, L-shaped piece of metal.
She'll insert the prying tool, the L, into the fat side of the lock. Then she'll insert the raking tool next to it. Apply slight pressure to the L tool, while at the same time raking the tumblers with the raker until the lock gives way.
A bump key looks like a regular key, but its teeth are ground down in such a way that makes it universal for most locks, including dead bolts. (scary, right?) Youtube has all kinds of videos for making and using a bump key, but here's the one I watched.
Your character should insert the bump key all the way, and then pull back slightly. She'll apply tension in the direction in which the lock normally unlocks.
Then, using a tool with substance, like a hammer or a screwdriver, she'll "bump" the end of the key. She'll feel the the tumblers click down, and then she can continue turning the lock.
So there you have it. Tips from my law-abiding husband (can I say that enough?) for picking locks.
Have your characters ever needed to pick a lock to get out of a pickle? Have you ever picked a lock? If so, is there something we missed in this overview? And are you as alarmed as I was that a bump key can open most deadbolts? Yikes!