The Manual - how to pick a lock

There have been many instances (none of them criminal, we hasten to add) where the ability to yank open a yale or disengage a dead-lock would have come in very handy. Struggle no more with our step-by-step guide to picking a lock with a paper clip.

You will need: Large paper clip, hammer, small screwdriver

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Step 1: A lock cylinder is made up of two main parts, the cylinder and the housing. The housing contains the springs and what are referred to as top pins. The cylinder contains the base pins - pins of varying lengths, which match the notches in your key.

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Step 2: All locks have what is called a 'shear line', where all the pins line up to allow the cylinder to rotate and open. Take a look at your house key. The low spots control the height of the base pins, creating the shear line when the key is inserted. If you count the low spots, you will notice whether you have a five pin or six pin lock. Most home and office locks are of the five pin variety.

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Step 3: Straighten the paper clip and hammer out the end so that it's flat. Place the screwdriver in the cylinder of the lock with the paper clip below it.

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Step 4: Apply a gentle pressure to the cylinder with the screwdriver, slightly turning it as you do so. At the same time, move the paper clip in and out slowly and gently, press down on the base pins, until all the pins reach the shear line.

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Step 5: Voila, you're in. Make sure it's your own house though, please...

Words by Adam Sutherland. With thanks to the professionals at www.lockcentre.com