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* Lockpicking Manual *
* Chapter 1 Warded Locks *
* Written by : Saturday Knight *
* © 1989 *
The purpose of this series of text files is made obvious by
the title. What you are about to read has been researched,
and tested by me. All this is to provide you the basic
understanding of locks, circumvention of locks, and how to keep
other people who read this file from using these techniques
This article was originally intended to be a complete unit.
But do to time, and material to be covered. It became readily
apparent that the article would have to be divided up. Each
chapter will deal with a new type of lock. After the final
chapter is completed, all the articles will be compiled together
and will be released as a whole unit. Sorry for any
inconvenience. But this was the only solution.
A Word of Caution:
Many of the tools required to perform such operations as
discussed in this article, are illegal for any person to posses
without a locksmith's license. I will show you how to produce all
the tools necessary to circumvent many types of locks. I suggest
that you do everything possible in trying not to be caught with
such. As you will be arrested, and to quote a police officer who
I conversed with on this subject:
"You will be in a world of shit."
Many people have argued with me on the subject of possesion of
the tools. TAP even printed an actual law of some state showing
that it is ok to have lockpicks if they are not being used. BUT
this I believe will not save your ass in court. For all the
people who believe that having lock picks is legal let me offer
you my challenge.
Sit down and think of ONE good reason why someone who is NOT
a locksmith to have lockpicks. Think that's easy? Well imagine
you're telling it to the judge after you have been caught.
Haven't thought of a reason yet have you? That's what I thought!
Basically there is only one reason the judge will see. That is
that you were using them to commit burglary. End of story.
So you have been warned! Now on with the show...
Purpose of a Lock:
In the authors opinion, the purpose of a lock is not so much
as to keep people out of a protected area. But rather to stall,
and cause as much wasted time and aggravation as possible to
prompt the person to move on to an easier target. Many times the
would be crook will be able to look at a lock and know from
perhaps an earlier experience how well built it is (or isn't).
It is the homeowner's responsibility to insure that he can waste
as much of a burglar's time as possible. It is a terrible shame
to see a person's grief over lost possessions. Especially if that
grief could have been avoided by a few extra dollars spent on a
SECURITY TIP: Most burglaries occur from the hours of 8:00
AM and 3:00 PM [That's right, in broad daylight]. This is
when most houses are empty and people are at work and
SECURITY RATING: Poor
Typical design of warded lock key:
_ ____ _
| |_| |__| |
|___ _| /
___| |_ /
| | Handle (Bow) --> /
Warded locks are perhaps the most abundantly used locks
throughout history. Being many centuries old, they date back
well into the Roman and Egyptian eras of time. A warded lock is
very simple in construction. Using "wards", or protrusions in
the lock itself, to derive its security. Identification of a
warded lock is simple. The all to familiar "skeleton" key is of
typical style to that of a warded lock.
Typical Warded Lock Keyholes
(A) ____ (B) ____
( ) ( )
| | | |
| | Case --> \ |
| | Warding--> / |
Please excuse the text graphics.
The warded lock key hole is often stereotyped that you can
look through the keyhole into the next room. This stereotype is
Notice figure A. The majority of the warded locks around
have an unobstructed key way.
If you note figure B however, you'll notice the bump on the
side of the keyway, this is known as CASE WARDING and is
not for security per-se, but rather to keep keys of the
wrong shape from entering the keyway.
The technique of using warding in the key hole has carried
over to modern day locks, in which the keyhole warding keeps keys
from different manufacturing companies from entering the wrong
type of lock.
In reference to "wards." Basically in a warded lock you have
several cuts made in the key. These cuts are made to circumvent
the wards of the lock, and ultimately open the bolt. If the cuts
on the key do not match that of the internal warding, the key is
shunted, and therefore cannot turn. This is how the warded lock
derives its security.
Basically Speaking a warded lock has three active parts:
1) The key
2) The internal lock warding
3) The bolt
Using these 3 characteristics we can study how the lock
works. Since the person reading this is assumed to be well versed
in the use of computers. We'll take a flow chart approach to
understanding the warded lock.
A) Key is inserted
1) Does the key turn?
a) If the key does not turn then the warding is hitting
the key. You have used a wrong key!
2) The key turns. This means that the cuts in the key were
able to avoid hitting the warding. This means you have
used the correct key.
3) Key contacts the bolt. The bolt opens.
As you can see the operation of a warded lock is very simple.
Inside of Lock
|_ |_ |
Lock--> _| _| <-- Cuts for | Handle (Bow) -->
Warding |_ |_ |____________________
--> _| _| <-- Warding
| ^^ Correct Key, cuts match with wards.
|_ | |
Lock--> _| |_ |
Warding |_ _| <-- Cut for |
--> _| | Warding |______________________
^^ INCORRECT KEY! Notice, cuts do NOT
match warding, therefore the key cannot
This is the hardest part of understanding a warded lock. If
you cannot understand my ASCII drawing, please refer to a lock
QUESTION: How did the term "skeleton key" come about?
ANSWER: Skeleton key is just another name for a warded type key
that has so many notches cut in it that it will often be nothing
more than a "skeleton" frame of a key. The purpose for such is
that it has so many notches that it could circumvent many
different wards for many locks. This is the warded locks biggest
Circumventing a warded lock:
Warded locks are of such simple design, and have such few
moving parts that they are often called upon to operate in harsh
enviorments. Such as near beaches, and on ships. They can also be
found on older style houses, and on many padlocks. They are
rarely found on newer buildings and residences. Many times a
piece of wire bent in the fashion shown below will open these
locks. This is called a "Button Hook" pick, and can be easily
made from a stiff coat hanger.
Button Hook Pick
Made from a stiff coat hanger
90 Degree ____ ||||||||||||
Bend -> | || ||
| || Handle ||
| || ||
^^ 90 Degree bend
Be sure to make several sizes, large and small, this way you
are always prepared for any type of warded lock!
This type of pick will circumvent much of the warding
in the lock itself. When inspecting a warded lock, you should be
able to see the bolt that the key hits to disengage the lock. You
must make sure that the top bend of the pick hits this bolt!
Note here that if you don't have a coat hanger handy, that
sometimes (assuming the keyway is large enough) you can stick
your little finger into the lock to throw the bolt!
SECURITY TIP: Replace all warded locks that are entrusted
with the security of important places and valuables. These
locks offer very little security and are easily defeated!
Simple in design, and inexpensive to produce. Warded
padlocks have found there way into many American homes, lockers,
and bicycles. The most typical of which is Master Lock company's
warded padlock. They range in size from a tiny 1/2 inch, to
a full 3 inches. These locks are easily identified by the
1) The key hole is rather large, and you can usually see the
bottom of the key way when held under a light
2) The key is shaped much like a toy key. It has square
notches cut on both sides of the key, and the notches are
symmetrical to each other (The notches match on both sides
of the key).
These locks are easy to defeat. In order to defeat this lock you
must understand how it works. Let us start with the key.
_ _ _ _ / \
| |_| |__| |_| |__/ |
( _ __ _ __ |
|_| |_| |_| |_| \ |
^ ^^ ^ \_____/
Cuts made to circumvent warding.
_ _ _ _ / \
| |_| |_| |___| |/ |
( _ _ ___ |
|_| |_| |_| |_|\ |
^ ^ ^^^ \_____/
Cuts made to circumvent warding.
Reflecting back on warded lock operation principles. You may
recall the fact that the cuts in the warded type key are only
there to either circumvent a ward, or hit the warding indicating
that the wrong key has been used. You also may recall that the
key must physically hit the bolt in order to disengage it. Look
at the two keys again, do you notice a pattern? If you look
closely you'll notice that the keys are different. EXCEPT for the
bottom two protrusions! Using this fact we come to ask this
If only the bottom protrusion(s) matter, what would happen
if I were to leave it there, and cut off the rest?
What would happen is that you'd have a pass key capable
of opening any warded type padlock out on the market!
As stated earlier, the wards will only stop the key if they
are struck by a part of the key. If you remove the part of the
key that has potential to strike the warding, you would have
created a key that the lock thinks is correct! Hence, we move to
our bench grinder with a typical warded padlock key, and perform
the following modifications...
Construction of a Warded Padlock Pass Key
_ _ / \ This key will open the
| |_| |_________/ | larger of Master Lock's
( _ _________ | warded type padlocks.
|_| |_| \ |
The other protrusions do NOT matter, only leave the last
two on the key.
_ / \
| |____________/ | This one will open all the
( ____________ | rest!
|_| \ |
Grind all of the protrusions off except for the
Master Lock's larger padlocks use "Multi-Spring Security"
(As stated on the front of the package). What this basically
means is that the key must throw two bolts instead of one. This
is easy to get around as you have just seen. The second key
should be able to handle all the rest of the locks!
You have now produced a skeleton key of your own. As stated
above, since the protrusions are gone, the lock cannot stop the
key! NOTE: In the beginning of this section I mentioned CASE
WARDING. In which the key hole will only let a certain type of
key enter it. Master Lock and others use this technique to keep
out other keys. To circumvent this, it is necessary to grind
down the sides of your pass keys so they are relatively smooth,
but not thin enough that it will break in the lock.
BULLSHIT TIP: Many kids in school think that these locks are
really secure. They are guided to think this way because the
key cannot be copied on a regular key machine. This is
because these locks are so cheap that replacement is often
cheaper than making a new key. Basically speaking, they are
WARNING: I don't suggest letting anyone know you have these
keys. I keep them on my key ring for emergencies. But I
don't tell anyone what they are for. Remember tools
like this are ILLEGAL FOR YOU TO POSSESS UNLESS YOU ARE A
Impressioning: Making a key for a warded lock
Sometimes you don't want to just pick open a warded lock.
Usually you'll want a key if you need to open it again. Or
perhaps you lost your key for a warded lock. Making a key for a
warded lock is simple. You need only four things.
1) Warded lock key blanks
3) Matches, candle, or lighter
Again we refer to the warded lock operating principles. The
wards hit the key to stop it correct? Using this fact you follow
1) Hold key over the candle, match, or what-have-you until
a thick layer of carbon builds on all the sides of the
2) Insert key into the keyway and turn in the direction to
throw the bolt.
3) Remove the key and look at the places where the carbon
has been removed.
4) GRADUALLY start filing these spots only taking off
a little at a time.
5) Repeat steps 1-4 until you notice that the carbon is no
longer being displaced.
It is essential that you start taking off less and less with
the file as you go deeper into the key blank. Be sure that you
file all the places that have had the carbon removed. Eventually
you will end up with a key that will work the lock!
That wraps it up for CHAPTER ONE of The Lockpicking Manual. I
hope you enjoyed it so far. Be sure to look for the next in the
series on your favorite BBS. Also be looking for my file on Alarm
Systems and How to make your own American Express card numbers!!
My system for making card numbers is 100 PERCENT effective!
Remember: I am a locksmith, so it is legal for me to posses
the tools used to do the things I talk about. But for the
majority of the readers it is not. If you see a cop coming your
way, and you have lockpicks in your possession. I suggest you get
rid of them QUICK!
Also altering of this file without my permission will prompt
me to find out will you live. Enter your house. And steal
everything I think will be of any value. I don't care what kind
of alarm system you have, or what kind of lock. I am an alarm
installer and locksmith. So if you don't think I can get in and
out of your house without even waking up your dog Cujo, you're
This file was written in Fall of 1989
By: Saturday Knight
In association with Damage Inc.
With special thanks to Laughing Gas for his proofreading
and ASCII drawing skills
Also thanks to Ponce De Leon for Western Union and his
killer fake ID that we had to bribe some oriental store
worker to get it laminated!!
And of course to Toxic Offspring for letting his mother read
my file on alarm systems and making me look like a convict!