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Walking out the front door only to release you’ve locked the handle and left your keys on the entry table can be a very frustrating experience.  Even worse, locking your keys in your car while far from home can turn a day trip into an overnight adventure. Locksmiths in Henderson and Las Vegas NV can remedy this rapidly, but there are several techniques that could save you time, as well as a check made out to your local locksmith. 

1.  Lockpicking

The most popular and well-known method of opening a lock is lockpicking, which typically requires a set of lockpicks but can be accomplished using a couple of paperclips.

The steps of lockpicking sound simple, but they take time and practice to truly master.  If you find yourself getting locked out frequently, this may be a handy skill to have. The most of a locksmiths use this method before anything else.  You will need two tools, a tension wrench and a rake.  

As I said before, this sounds much easier than it is in practice.  In a pinch, you can use paper clips, but they will not have the same ease of use as real lockpicks. 

2. Drilling

Drilling a lock should only be done in a time crunch, and as a last resort.  The drill will destroy the internal components of the lock and render it unusable.  After the fact, you will have to replace the lock and potentially other parts of the door.  However, if someone is in danger or requires immediate assistance, this may be your only option.  In that case, find the right sized drill bit, drill the top part of the keyway (where the pins are located). Don’t push too hard, and slowly go through each pin (there are 5-6 pins in most of the locks). Eye protection may be a good idea to shield yourself from any flying metal.  

3. “Screw and Rod” Technique

This technique is specifically for opening car doors. Be warned, this technique is potentially damaging to your car door and should only be performed if it is necessary.  All you will need is a screwdriver and long, skinny rod made of metal or some other sturdy material.  

Wedge the tip of the screwdriver in the crease between the door and the “B” pillar, or the part of the frame that separates the front from the backseats.  Once you have the door cracked you can slip your rod through and press the unlock button on the door panel, electronically unlocking the vehicle. Again, this technique is intrusive and can cause damage to the vehicle.  

4. Shoelace Technique

Everyone walks around with a shoelace (two of them in fact) in their possession.  If you find yourself locked out of your car, the shoelace method of opening your car door is reportedly the easiest way to get the job done.  However, this only works with cars that have vertical locks on the windowsill. If your car has the physical lock “latch” inside of the interior handle, check out another method on this list.  

To do this, simply remove your shoelace from your shoe and tie a slipknot in the middle.  Carefully thread the knotted end between the door and the frame of the car. Shimmy the knot downwards using both sides of the shoelace.  It may take a couple of tries, but you should be able to loop the knot over the locking mechanism and pull on one side to tighten the knot.  While applying adequate pressure but not yanking, pull up on both sides of the shoelace to pop the lock.  

5. Using a Knife

While using a knife may sound excessive, or possibly destructive, a carefully used butterknife can achieve the end goal in a variety of ways.  Different types of locks can be handled with a knife in different ways. Household bathroom doors typically only have a simple flat keyhole. Placing the tip of the knife in and turning does the job instantly (a coin can also accomplish this).  

However, some doors with more complex keyholes can also be opened by bypassing the keyhole entirely.  If there is enough room between the door and door jamb, a thin knife blade can be slid between. Once there, slide the blade up and down where the striker plate should be until you find the bolt.  Push the knife in and attempt to get it around the bolt, finally pushing the bolt out of the unlocked position.  

A butterknife can also be used to pick the lock in place of paper clips or a lockpicking set.  By inserting the knife blade into the lock as far as it goes and applying pressure in different directions, you may be able to pop the lock open.  This is by no means a science, and you may have to play with the lock for a while before succeeding.  

6. Using a Credit Card

This method is sometimes used by a locksmith, but instead of a credit card they use a thicker plastic shim. Similar to using a knife, the credit card needs to be inserted between a door and a strike plate (the part that is mounted to the frame of the door that has a hole where latch goes in) and push the latch out. It has to be done multiple times until you are able to successfully reach a latch it the right way, so try changing an angle and a direction of the card. The problem with this technique is that most of the new locks, have a type of latch that is shiming resistance, but it’s still worth trying. 


In sum, the best item for opening a lock is the key.  Locking yourself out can feel like the end of the world at the time, but there are many solutions. If none of these techniques work to open your lock, you may end up having to call a locksmith anyways. Always attempt to avoid damaging the lock or the door and remember that a professional is just a phone call away.