How To Open A Padlock Without A Key: 8 Easy Methods

Have you ever been stuck staring at a simple padlock? Maybe you forgot your key, or maybe you just simply misplaced it somewhere and can’t remember where. And now you are stuck with that security padlock to your basement door, garage door, or just a simple box and can’t figure out a way of opening it.

You might only think of breaking it at first, but that might do extra unnecessary damage to your property. Then comes the idea of calling a locksmith, but that might take a while. But, if you are in a hurry, or you simply want to do it yourself, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we are here to show you some of the best ways to unlock a padlock yourself. Let’s dive right in.

1. The Shim Method

To start us off, we have the shim method. First things first, to explain what a shim is. It is a small piece of metal that is shaped in such a way that can be maneuvered into the top part of the lock, where the shackle meets the body. To start you off, insert the thicker part of the shim into the body of the padlock. Next, you will wiggle it back and forth until you hear the latch click. At which point, the lock should spring open, and voilà, you have an open padlock.

Check the video below;

2. Hammering Away

Next up, the hammer technique. You start by putting two fingers inside the shackle loop and try to force the shackle away. This will eventually force the locking pins into the right position, making it easier for you to finish the job. After this, use the hammer to tap the padlock’s site, again and again, targeting the shackle’s fixed side, because that’s where the pins are. After a while, the pins will disengage and the lock will open easily.

Just make sure not to use excessive force so that the padlock can be reused after this. Also, if you don’t have a hammer handy, you can use the handle of a screwdriver or any similar blunt tool. 

3. Cutting it with a Bolt Cutter

bolt cutter

Maybe the easiest method on the list, but it will require you to have bolt cutters nearby. And not everyone has a pair of those lying around their house. But, if you are of the rare few who do have them at home, then it’s simple. Just position the shears on either side of the shackle and squeeze. When it’s finally severed you can remove the padlock completely. Not a great method though, because it will destroy the padlock in the process. But, still, a good option if you were planning on replacing it anyway.

4. Picking the Lock

picking lock set

This would be the most popular way of opening a lock from what you see in the media, but this definitely takes some getting used to. Not everyone is an expert at picking locks. Plus, you will need a lock picking tool to get this done. If you don’t own a lock pick, then maybe you could try it with a hairpin or a paperclip. Even if you use one of these alternatives, know that you will still need something extra to place tension on the lock.

The process begins with inserting a tension wrench straight to the bottom of the keyhole. This causes the plug to rotate slightly and catch the first pin when you push it above the shear line with the lock pick. You will need to repeat this step for every single pin that the lock consists of. You might have to repeat it several times to catch all of the pins simultaneously. Definitely not an easy feat and will require some practice beforehand.

5. Using a Master Key

masterkey 1

A master key is a key that is specifically made to open multiple locks inside your home. This type of key can be made by a locksmith but comes at a price. Nevertheless, this is a good second option if you tend to lose your primary key.

To open any lock with your master key, you simply slide it inside the lock and turn. Nothing more complicated than using your regular key. But, you should be aware that a lock change might be needed in your home so that the master key can be used on most of your locks.

6. The Wrench Method

wrenched method

To crack a padlock with this method, you will need two wrenches, Place one on both ends of the shackles and bring their handles as close together as you can. This will in turn get their heads butting. After placing them on the shackle’s vertical shaft area, and keeping them firm and steady start applying force on the handles. This will require a certain amount of strength, but don’t give up midway. Try your hardest.

Keep doing that until the shackle breaks in two. Then, just remove the broken pieces from the lock and you’re home free.

7. Cracking the Lock Using Compressed Air

compressed air 1

For this, you will need a can of compressed air which can be bought at any home improvement store, drugstore, or pharmacy. And also a hammer. (1)

The gas inside the canister is called difluoroethane, or cooling gas. You will need to spray this on the side of the lock for about 25 to a max of 40 seconds. You will notice the change in color of the lock once you stop. After seeing that, grab the hammer and give it a few goods smashes. Thanks to the frost on the metal, the lock will easily break, and then just remove the broken pieces from the latch and you’re in.

8. Calling a Locksmith

People who have lost their keys often call a locksmith to open their door. The job of the locksmiths is to use various tools to open the lock in the quickest time possible. Many people believe that it is easier to get someone else to do a job than doing it yourself, so they hire professionals for tasks like this.

But most importantly, a locksmith uses their knowledge and skillset to find the easiest way into your home so that they can be helpful and save you time and money.

A locksmith will use many tools including different types of wrenches, screwdrivers, and even drills to make sure that they can fix your lock efficiently. They might also use suction cups or magnets to help them gain access inside the door without breaking any windows or doors by using brute force methods.

The Future: Electronic Locks

electronic locks

These newer models of electronic locks are much more secure than your regular lock. And they come in two variants, one which utilizes magnets and the other which utilizes motors. Both are usually opened digitally with your phone or a simple magnet or a signal in a sort of fob which can be attached to your phone or your wallet. They will provide you with far better safety than your average lock, but you still need to be careful with them as well. Being an electronic type of lock, it can still be breached nowadays.

Your Security

To finish off, we need to remind every single one of our readers that your security should always come first. We covered a couple of different ways to open a padlock when you don’t have a key here (hopefully you will only be doing this on your own locks), all in order to quickly get you access without waiting on a locksmith. Hopefully, we have taught you a couple of our methods on how to open a padlock without a key. Try some of them out next time you are locked out and let us know how you do.

But still, if this is a door that you are keeping locked with a padlock, maybe consider investing in a better lock. Like we mentioned before, your safety is the most important thing.

(1) compressed air –

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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