How to pick a skeleton key lock – How to Pick a Skeleton Key Lock

Do you have a skeleton key that is giving you trouble? Or maybe you want to know how to pick a skeleton key lock in case you ever need to. Either way, learning how to pick a skeleton key lock is a handy skill to have.

This blog post will discuss some of the most popular methods. We will also include everything you need to know about skeleton key locks. So whether you have a collection of antique skeleton keys or if you have a skeleton key lock and it’s giving you headaches, read on!


What Is A Skeleton Key Lock?

A skeleton key lock is a type of pin tumbler lock that uses a skeleton key. The term “skeleton key” comes from the fact that the keys are typically straightforward in design, with only a few teeth or bumps. A skeleton key lock is a type of pin tumbler lock that uses a skeleton key.

The term “skeleton key” comes from the fact that the keys are typically very simple in design, with only a few teeth or bumps. This lock’s locking mechanism is often called a warded lock as they have wards in them that create unique hallways for the key blade to travel through.

Skeleton key locks are relatively easy to pick, which is why they are not often used in high-security applications. However, they can be helpful in situations where multiple people need access to the same space, as the keys can be easily duplicated. Skeleton key locks are also sometimes used as decorative due to their vintage appearance.

What To Do When A Skeleton Key Is Missing

While the design of skeleton keys makes them easy to duplicate, it also means that they are easily lost or misplaced. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic, as the skeleton key lock is easy to pick, that is why they’re not used in high-security applications.

There are a few different methods that can be used to pick a skeleton key lock, the two most popular: raking and single-pin picking.

Raking is a technique that is often used by beginner lock pickers, as it is relatively easy to do. Start by inserting the pick into the keyhole and then applying pressure to the pins. Next, use a back-and-forth motion to “rake” the pins until they click into place.

Single-pin picking is a more advanced technique typically used by experienced lock pickers. This method requires using a tension wrench inserted into the keyhole along with the pick. The tension wrench is used to apply pressure to the pins, while the pick is used to manipulate them into place.

Both methods can effectively pick a skeleton key lock, but single-pin picking is generally considered more reliable. However, if you are unsure how to do it, it is best to leave the job to a professional locksmith.

At Legacy Locksmith, we are experts at picking all types of locks, including skeleton key locks. We understand that you want your door fixed without damaging the lock, so we use the latest techniques and tools to get the job done right. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.

The Alternative Methods to Picking a Skeleton Key Lock

If you don’t have tension or an Allen wrench and a pick in your tool set, there are a few other ways to open a skeleton without buying these tools. Here are some of the alternative methods that will also work as the same function as a tension wrench and a pick.

Paperclip and Bobby Pin Method

This is one of the most popular methods, as it requires no special tools or equipment. All you need is a paperclip or a bobby pin. With these tools, you can create a makeshift key that will work as real wrenches.

You can find this material almost anywhere, which is why this method is so popular. This may take some trial and error, but it is often possible to open the lock without damaging it.

  1. Start by straightening the paperclip and bending one end into a “hook” shape.
  2. Insert the hook into the keyhole and feel to find the lever.
  3. Make sure only one-fourth part of the clip is inside the lock.
  4. Bend the remaining part straight in a way it forms a 90° angle.
  5. Once you find the pins, apply pressure to them until they click into place. This will unlock the door.
Drill Bit Method

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can try the drill bit method. This will require a power drill and a small drill bit. To perform it:

  1. Start by drilling a hole in the center of the keyhole. Once you’ve made your way through the metal plate that covers the hole, you should be able to see the inner workings of the lock.
  2. Next, insert your drill bit into the hole you’ve just made. Apply pressure and start drilling. The goal is to drill through the center of the cylinder so that you can apply pressure to the pins and cause them to spring up.
  3. You may need to adjust your grip on the drill bit as you’re drilling to apply more pressure. It’s essential to be careful not to damage the lock’s inner workings, or you may render it unusable.
  4. Once you’ve drilled through the cylinder, apply pressure to the pins, which should spring up. You can remove the drill bit and insert your key into the lock. If all has gone well, it should turn with ease.

The advantage of this method is that it’s relatively straightforward. The downside is that it requires a power drill, which may not be something everyone has on hand. Additionally, you can permanently damage the lock if you’re not careful.

Warning: If you try this method, be sure to take your time and exercise caution. Avoid the drill from slipping out from the keyhole and drill into the surrounding area. Doing so could damage your door or lock beyond repair.

Using a Flat Head Screw

Another method you can try is using a flathead screwdriver. This one is a bit more delicate, so it may require patience. The process is the same as the paperclip; however flat head screw doesn’t need to be bent as you insert it. Here’s how to do it:

Start by inserting the flat head screwdriver into the keyhole. The flat head screw should be small enough to fit snugly into the keyhole but not so small that it can’t apply pressure to the pins. Once inserted, twist the flathead screen and turn it until you feel the pins start to give.

Coat Hanger Method

This method may seem old, but it works like a charm. All you need is a hanger and a pair of pliers. The process is the same as the paperclip method; the only difference is the object you’ll be using. Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by straightening the hanger, so you have a long, thin piece of wire.
  2. Next, take the pliers and make a small hook at one end of the wire. This will be what you use to apply pressure to the key pins.
  3. Insert the wire into the keyhole and feel around for the pins. Once you’ve found them, apply pressure with the hook until you feel the lock give.
What to Do if Picking Doesn’t Work

If you’ve tried one or more of the methods above and you’re still having trouble picking the lock, there are a few things you can do:

  • Try using a different type of key. If you’re using a standard skeleton key, try using a smaller or thinner key. This may give you better leverage and make applying pressure to the pins more accessible.
  • Check the condition of the lock. If the lock is old or in poor condition, it may be more difficult to pick. In this case, it may be best to call a locksmith.
  • Try a different method. If one method isn’t working, there’s no harm in trying another.
  • Call a locksmith, as they will have the proper tools and experience to help you out.
Reasons Why Skeleton Lock Resist Open

If you have your skeleton key and still you re struggling to open the lock, it might be because:

  • The pins are too high – This is the number one reason for a skeleton key not working. If the pins are set too high, they won’t be able to engage with the sidebar properly, and you won’t be able to turn the key.
  • The sidebar is damaged –  If the sidebar is damaged, it won’t engage with the pins properly, and you won’t be able to turn the key.
  • The lock is an antique – Older locks are often more difficult to pick because they don’t have the same kind of precision as newer locks.
  • Damaged locking mechanism –  If some parts of the locking mechanism are damaged, it will be harder to open the lock.
  • Weathering and rust –  If the lock has been exposed to the elements for a long time, it may be difficult to open as the parts may be rusted or corroded.
Common Mistakes When Picking a Skeleton Key Lock

When picking a skeleton key lock, it’s important to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Applying too much pressure. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when picking a lock. If you apply too much pressure, you risk damaging the pins or the sidebar.
  • Not using enough pressure. This is the opposite of the first mistake, but it’s just as common. If you don’t apply enough pressure, you won’t engage the pins properly, and you’ll never be able to turn the key.
  • If you’re using a paperclip or a coat hanger, ensure they’re the right size. If they’re too big or too small, you won’t be able to apply the right amount of pressure to the pins. Only us the size that would fit the lock snugly.
  • If you try to pick the lock too many times, you run the risk of damaging it beyond repair. If you’re having trouble picking the lock, it’s best to call a locksmith.

Picking a skeleton key lock may seem easy if you just follow the proper steps and use the right tools. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be able to do it in no time. Just remember to take your time and avoid making any of the common mistakes listed above.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to call a locksmith for assistance. They’ll have the experience and the tools to help you out.

Tips on How to Maintain your Skeleton Key Lock

Some of you might open overlook how important it is to take care of your skeleton key lock, but how you treat your lock will definitely affect how long it lasts. Here are some tips on how to keep your skeleton key lock in good condition:

  • Use a lubricant: A good way to keep your lock from rusting or becoming difficult to open is to use a lubricant on it. This will help the parts move smoothly and prevent them from sticking.
  • Keep it clean: Another good way to maintain your lock is to keep it clean. This will help prevent dirt and grime from building up and making it difficult to open.
  • Don’t force it: If you find that your key is getting stuck or the lock is becoming difficult to open, don’t force it. This could damage the lock beyond repair.

However, no matter how well you take care of your lock, there will come a time when it starts to give you trouble. This is especially when you just move into a pre-owned home as you don’t know how old the lock is.

When this happens, it’s important to know how to pick your skeleton lock to get into your home or office. If lock picking is not your thing, don’t worry, as Legacy Locksmith will always be there to help you.

Picking Skeleton Key Lock FAQ
Can a skeleton key lock be picked?

Yes, a skeleton key lock can be picked, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are a few things you need to consider, such as the type of lock, the age of the lock, and the condition of the locking mechanism. If you’re unsure how to pick a skeleton key lock, it’s best to call a locksmith for assistance.

What is the best way to pick a skeleton key lock?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to pick a skeleton key lock will vary depending on your picking skill and individual circumstances.

Can any skeleton key open any skeleton lock?

No, not all skeleton keys can open all skeleton locks. The key needs to be the same size and shape as the lock in order for it to work. Additionally, the teeth on the key need to match up with the pins in the lock. If they don’t, then the key won’t be able to turn the lock.

Is there a possibility that picking won’t work on my lock?

Yes, there’s always a possibility that picking won’t work on your lock. This is why it’s important to know how to pick a skeleton key lock before you need to use it. These are the factors:

  • Type of lock
  • Age of the lock
  • Condition of the locking mechanism
How can I tell if my skeleton key lock is damaged?

If you’re having difficulty picking your skeleton key lock or the key is getting stuck, the lock may be damaged. Another sign of a damaged lock is if it’s become difficult to open or close. If your lock might be damaged, don’t force it, as this could worsen the damage. Instead, call a locksmith for assistance.

Are all skeleton keys the same?

In old houses, skeleton keys are often regarded as “master keys,” but not all skeleton keys are made equal. Skeleton keys are renowned for their fine workmanship and the cut and size of the bit and barrel determine whether a skeleton key will fit a lock.

Does the skeleton key work for different locks?

Yes, some skeleton keys are designed to open multiple locks, but not all of them. Lever locks and warded locks are the most common locks that a skeleton key can open. However, as the technology of locks has progressed, most manufacturers have made it more difficult for skeleton keys to work on their locks.


Learning how to pick a skeleton key lock is essential when you find yourself locked out of your home or office. In this article, we’ve provided step-by-step instructions on how to pick a skeleton key lock using different methods.

If you’re still having trouble opening the lock, there are a few things you can do: try using a different type of key, check the condition of the lock, or try a different method. Remember that some locks are more difficult to pick than others; if all else fails, you can always call a locksmith.

Are you having trouble with your skeleton locks? Whether they are modern or antique locks Legacy Locksmith is here to help! We specialize in helping people pick their locks and get back into their homes or offices. We also provide a master key, key replacement, and many more! Contact locksmith Roswell GA today for a free consultation!

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