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Lock Picking Blog

Why Lock Picks Break - The Hard Truth


It's a question everyone asks - why do lock picks break?

It's happened to me, you and everyone that picks locks - your favourite pick, the first one out of a new set, or just during a session on a cold Sunday afternoon, a pick breaks.  In fact I can guarantee it'll happen to you again.  But why, what's going on?

Lock picks break because of two main reasons: material weakness and technique weakness.

Material Weakness

By this I mean the pick itself has either has an inherent weakness or with time has developed one.  Most picks are manufactured from sheet steel, stainless steel or with cheaper Chinese sets it may have a higher copper content.  The manufacturing process may have lead to micro-fractures or tension at sites in the pick that can lead to it snapping when too much stress is applied.

Also, with time, a pick can develop weaknesses and micro fractures - it's just inevitable.  All that stress and strain adds up.

Technique Weakness

This means you.  It's when you use lock picks incorrectly.  Often we'll read that people are using a pick as a turning tool, applying torque to the barrel to help set the pins.  STOP THIS NOW!  Turning tools, also known as tension wrenches, are specifically designed to do this job - do not use lock picks in this way, despite how convenient or natural it feels.  As always it's a case of the right tool for the right job.  WithoutaKey sells more than 10 types of turning tool so you have the right tool available to you.

Particular picking techniques will also be more damaging to picks.  Consider single pin picking (SPP) over raking for example.

How to reduce lock picks breaking

Now you know the two main reasons for a pick snapping you can actually change your techniques and approach to help reduce the probability of a snap.  Firstly, choose a good set of picks, none are 100% snap-proof, but SouthOrd picks are a better strength than most Chinese lock pick sets.  In fact they also do a high tensile strength version that can take a good battering.  Secondly, buy some turning tools, and take that unnecessary pressure off that other pick.  In the end, remember that it's inevitable - you will break a pick.

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