So you want to make your own lock picks, but you have no idea where to begin when selecting material for these epic homemade creations.
At first thought, it can kind of be overwhelming.
There are a lot of things to consider when selecting materials and objects for these DIY lock picks such as the quality of a material, how well that material works as a lock pick, how much it costs, and even how much work it takes to mold that material into a useable pick!
But choosing a good material for homemade locks picks doesn't have to be a headache and there are actually quite a few awesome options out there that can give you some pretty cool results!
So let’s first look at some of the qualities that make a particular material or object a good option for a lock pick and then jump into our list of 15 things that you can easily obtain and use for your first masterpiece!
Let's get to it and cover the best homemade lock pick materials!
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There are a thousand things that you can use to make your own lock picks ranging from chicken bones to bobby pins, but not all materials make good lock picks.
When it comes to making your own high-quality lock picks, steel will always be your best friend.
However, not all steel is equal in utility. When it comes to selecting the ideal steel for lock picks, you want something that is hard, but not too hard.
If you use a blend or temper of steel that is too soft – it simply won't be able to hold it’s rigidity while picking and also won’t transmit feedback very well. An example of steel that is too soft is a paperclip. While they make excellent improvised lock picks, they are too soft and bend under the pressure of picking.
On the other hand, if you use steel that is too hard, you'll make picks that are too brittle that risk breaking within the lock. "Harder steel being more brittle" may seem like a contradiction, but to better explain it think of a material like silly putty. In its base form, silly putty is very tough and elastic. However, if you stick it in the freezer it becomes very brittle and fragile. The same concept applies to steel.
So with this in mind let's look at 15 lock pick materials that aren't too soft nor too hard!
There is always going to be scrap or waste that comes from making a product and most of the time this extra material can’t be effectively used and is typically recycled or thrown away.
However, some manufacturers opt for a third option of selling this scrap material.
The beautiful thing about these leftover materials from pick manufacturers is that you are getting steel that is specifically designed to be used as a lock pick – it was made for this purpose and this purpose alone!
This also means that you can get these materials in thicknesses that are ideal for picking – typically between 0.015" and 0.030".
However, to my knowledge, the only manufacturer that currently offers their scrap metal for sale is Peterson Manufacturing. They offer four different thicknesses in their famous "Government Steel" ranging from 0.013" to 0.025" thick. You can find these steel blanks here.
If you are looking to make some high quality picks that will last a long time, I can't recommend this steel enough. One of the notorious lock pick makers Ratyoke used Peterson blanks to make some of his famous lock picks. That guide can be found here.
However, it is rather pricey compared to the other options on this list. So if you are just getting into making your own picks, I would start with something cheaper until you've had a little practice.
Next up is the hidden gem of lock pick materials – feeler gauge!
Feeler gauge is an extremely thin strip of steel that is typically used by engineers to measure or calibrate the gap between two objects.
You can find feeler gauge everywhere – from your local hardware store to the deep dark depths of the internet. It is a common product that is cheap and easy to get your hands on!
But by far the coolest thing about this material is that you can buy it in a TON of different thicknesses. You can also get it in huge 20-foot rolls if you want to mass-produce and lower the cost per pick!
Feeler gauge is extremely easy to work with, will produce high-quality lock picks, and will provide you with enough material to have some fun with. So if you are looking to make some serious homebrew lock picks, feeler gauge is your huckleberry!
You can thank the high carb/low fiber diet for the mass availability of this awesome and fairly cheap source of steel!
Flat sewer rods are essentially very long pipe snakes used for removing sewer pipeline blockages and are typically about 40 - 50 feet long – that's a lot of picks!
It's made of high carbon spring steel so that it can bend without breaking in sewer lines, which makes it a perfect lock pick material!
It seems that just recently many companies have discontinued their 1/4" variation which was the perfect width for pick handles. So unless you can scavenge some on eBay, you'll have to use the 1/2" version like found here and shave off a little more metal – or make some picks with wider handles!
Regardless, this is an awesome and fairly cheap material that will make you more picks than you can possibly ever use!
For all you men that desire to spend more on lock picks but your wives won’t let you – here is the loophole you have been waiting for your entire marriage.
It’s high-quality spring steel that can provide you with a couple of good picks and in most cases, it already lifts more weight than it will while picking a lock!
Just snatch a bra here and there and you'll potentially have an endless supply of great lock pick material! However, some men are blessed with a bigger supply than others.
If you didn't already know, the purpose of a hacksaw blade is to hack through things at a high speed. To effectively accomplish this, the steel of these blades has to be hardened and resistant to the heat produced from the friction of "sawing."
As we mentioned above, the more you harden steel the more brittle it becomes. While most picking doesn't require a tremendous amount of force, spending a bunch of time making a lock pick only to have it immediately snap in a lock is kind of a bummer.
In addition, there is a huge variety of hacksaw blades on the market using different steel blends and tempers depending on their quality and their intended use. This turns the process of making your picks into the guessing game of "what hacksaw blade should I get and hope works."
This all being said, many people have found success using these blades for their homemade creations.
So your mileage may vary on hacksaw blades, however, if you find a good one that works for you be sure to throw it in the comments below so others can narrow down their search.
Next up is the itty-bitty jigsaw blade!
These little guys differ from hacksaw blades in a few positive ways. Firstly, because their primary purpose is to cut through softer material (like wood) and because they extend outward from the saw they are typically made of softer and more flexible steel.
So in short, they will make less brittle lock picks!
They are also much cheaper than hacksaw blades and you can easily acquire them in bulk online.
However, when using them as lock pick material, they do demand a little more work. They can sometimes be a little too thick to fit into most keyways and may require you to do a little grinding to thin them out!
Regardless, jigsaw blades are decent enough lock pick material that will yield some good results.
You can't drive through any town – small or big – without passing by one of those infamous dollar stores. These stores are no secret, but very few know that they can provide us with a cheap and effective material for lock picks – the stainless steel steak knife!
Now making a lock pick out of a knife isn't the easiest task as knives are typically thick and bulky creatures. But they work surprisingly well and look pretty damn cool if you put the time and effort into them.
Beyond these knives being stainless steel and cheap, they provide another really cool benefit. They already have handles.
I mean what more could you ask for?
If you don't have a dollar store in your town, you can also buy these knives for just as cheap on Amazon – like these.
Hose clamps are one of those strange things that provide the bare minimum of what you need to make a useful lock pick, but nothing more.
These clampers of hoses are great for making homemade picks because they provide high-quality stainless steel, they're cheap, and they can be found in about every hardware store on the planet.
However, a nasty downside is that they have slits cutout on almost half of the clamp that makes those sections unusable material for lock picks. So in the end, you are paying for a ton of material that you can’t actually use.
Additionally, because the steel has a natural curve applied to it, you have to spend some time straightening the steel which in many cases can weaken it.
There are a lot of other options on this list that I would recommend over hose clamps, but if that is what you want to try or all you can get, it will still serve you well.
This one typically surprises many people, however, those noisy and strange-looking vehicles that roam the streets at night can provide us with more than a squeaky clean street! They can actually leave behind a trail of amazing lock pick material!
The "brushes" on most street sweepers actually use very high-quality spring steel that makes excellent lock picks!
How excellent you ask?
Fun fact! The creator of the Bogota – Raimundo – used sweeper bristles to produce many of his original lock picks. At the time, Raimundo's Bogota was an innovation like no other that took the lock picking community by storm. To this day, lock picking enthusiasts are still trying to get their hands on original Raimundo Bogotas. It just goes to show that a little creativity and mad genius can go a long way – no matter what material and tools you have!
So if you want some of the same spring steel that has made some of the most popular and most sought after lock picks known to man, chase after a few street sweepers and collect their sacred bristles.
However just a little heads up, some street sweepers use nylon bristles, so you could be in for a disappointment there.
Windshield wiper inserts are probably one of the most popular materials among homebrew lock pick makers.
This is because they are a long strip of high-quality spring steel that comes in multiple different widths and thicknesses – and they are very easy to get your hands on!
You can get a TON of these inserts by either raiding your local junkyard and stripping all the wipers or simply asking your local auto parts store if they have any sitting around.
Tell them you’ll throw them 10 bucks if they collect all the old wipers they spend hours a day changing for people and throwing away!
If you don’t want to tell them that it is for making lock picks, just say it’s for a “friend's art project.” You can come back in a couple of days and most times they will have a full bag waiting for you!
Wiper inserts are also an excellent material for making homemade tension wrenches!
Putty knives are a great and cheap source of thin stainless steel that can be cut into sections to make multiple picks!
You can find putty knives in just about any Walmart, hardware store, or even online. However, they are not always the cheapest and can sometimes be a little too thick, so you may have to spend a little time thinning them out!
But, if it is all you can get, it's better than nothing!
Something that many pickers don’t think about until it is too late is collecting all their broken picks for the day that they might start making their own.
While the pick itself is broken, the handle is still excellent material that can spawn a beautiful new pick – like a phoenix rising from the ashes! While you'll have to get creative with finding a way to add a handle, the metal itself is perfect for making picks because... well it is a pick.
This will really only work with picks that don’t already have handles, and it’s really not worth grinding away plastic handles to get to the raw metal underneath. So if your broken pick has a handle, you’re better off grabbing another material to work with!
Remember those awesome steel rulers you had as a kid whose only true purpose was to catapult things across the room. While now they have an adult purpose too, and it still isn't to measure things.
These rulers are typically made of stainless steel and yield enough to make 4 or 5 high quality picks. They are also VERY cheap and can be found in just about any store that sells school supplies or online!
However, their one downside – besides the flow of horrible memories of math – is that they are on the thicker side, so you may have to thin them out a bit.
Let's say you are at the junkyard scavaging around for wiper inserts and you want to make the most of your trip. Well, you may as well strip other useful parts from those old beat-up cars while you're there.
If you have ever checked your oil, you may recall what your dipstick looks like.
It is essentially a very long strip of spring steel and exactly what we are looking for!
However, many dipsticks – especially from newer or smaller vehicles – just aren't wide enough to make useful lock picks. But if you find yourself at the scrapyard you may as well try and kill two birds with one stone and check those engines for something useful!
This one is sort of hit or miss as bike spokes can sometimes be made of materials such as plastic or aluminum – neither of which are good materials for lock picks.
However, if you can locate an old bike tire with steel spokes you have landed on a small goldmine!
This is metal is typically roundish but with a little grinding and creativity, you can make some pretty cool looking picks!
A little opportunity for those that live near a college or university. At the end of every school year and the beginning of Summer break, many colleges have hundreds of abandoned bikes chained around their campus. They typically give the students a few weeks to collect their bikes or risk never seeing them again.
However, after a few weeks have passed, some institutions cut the locks and inform the public that those bikes are free game for whoever wants them! So if you want a nice supply of spokes for your lock pick creations, or you just need a new bike, the beginning of Summer is a nice opportunity for either!
As you can see, there are quite a few awesome lock pick materials out there today that are cheap and very accessible!
Your only limitation is truly your imagination. Making your own lock picks is a total blast and a very rewarding hobby in itself. So go forth and make some lock picks, stay safe, and most of all have fun!
I hope this guide on the best materials for homemade lock picks was useful and if you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything others, be certain to throw those down in the comments below.
Also if you have any other hidden gems that aren't on this list and should be, let me know in the comments!
As always, happy picking!