How to Open a Cylinder Lock

What do you do if you find yourself locked out of your home? Do you call a locksmith, wait an hour and pay him as much as $50 for five minutes of work? If your door uses a common cylinder lock, you may be able to open it with a strong-gauge wire, constructed with a small loop on one end and a small handle attached to the other end. It's not hard to construct and will work on most cylinder locks.

Cylinder door locks can be opened without a locksmith.
    Make a small, oval loop from a length of wire.
  1. Make a small, 3/8- to 1/2-inch oval loop at one end of a 5-inch length of heavy-gauge wire. The loop serves as a catch-and-turn device and allows you to withdraw the wire after turning the catch.

  2. Thick-gauge wire works helps open a cylinder lock.
  3. Saw 3 inches off the end of a wooden broom handle. Drill a very thin hole with a bit slightly thinner than the wire through the center of the wood. Insert the straight end of the wire through the hole. Use the needle-nosed pliers to bend and wind the wire completely around the center of the wood piece. Twist the wire two or three times so it remains fixed to the wood. You should now have a 4-inch, stiff wire length attached to a 2-inch handle.

  4. Unlock a door without calling a locksmith.
  5. Insert the loop end of the wire straight into the cylinder lock as far as you can with the straight wire on the left edge of the keyhole and the loop part of the wire facing the right. After the loop is inserted as far into the keyhole as possible, grasp the handle and turn it counterclockwise several times until you feel the cylinder turn inside. This will unlock the door. Remove the wire loop by jiggling it around until it's free from the cylinder catch.


  • Never pick locks that you do not own without permission. It is illegal.

About the Author

Bruce Santucci works as a freelance researcher, writer/editor, trainer,video narrator, and handyman for BAS & Associates, Inc with published articles in the New Meridan Magazine, Handyman Magazine and eHow. He also researches health products and writes regularly for numerous website and blog owners. He graduated from Seattle University in 1976