DIY Alert: Learn How To Make A Homemade Tubular Lock Pick

Key Takeaway

  • A tubular lock is a pin and tumbler lock with the pins arranged in a circular arrangement.
  • In case of a misplaced key, you may make a homemade tubular lock pick key using a ballpoint pen.
  • The notches cut on the pen’s cylindrical body displace the pins in the lock to let the cylinder move freely.

You made a wise decision if you decided to put a circular or tubular lock on your safe or house to secure it more effectively. However, losing or misplacing the key to your lock might make you question your choice, as tubular locks are more complex to break in. 

Tubular locks, which are commonly seen in gun safes, ATMs, vending machines, elevators, public computers, etc., are far more challenging to pick than conventional lock-and-tumbler locks. You need a tubular lock pick to open a tubular lock without a key. However, in cases of quick access, you make a homemade tubular lock pick. The homemade pick may not work on all locks, but if your lock is not a high-security lock, you may get to bypass it. 

This article will talk about how to make a tubular lock pick with tools as simple as a ballpoint pen and a pair of scissors. Basic know-how of how a tubular lock works will help you better understand the making of a tubular lock pick.

How Does A Tubular Lock Work?

How Does A Tubular Lock Work?

A tubular lock is a type of pin-and-tumbler lock that uses a stack of pins to lock and unlock the lock. Unlike deadbolts, which have their pins arranged in a straight line, circle locks have their pins arranged in a round pattern. The key of a tubular lock is also cylindrical to align with the pins.

When the cylindrical key with notches is inserted and turned, each of the notches raises a matching pin within the lock to a specific height, allowing the lock cylinder to turn freely. While the majority of circular locks have 6 to 8 pins, some can have as few as 4 or as many as 10 pins.

How To Make A Homemade Tubular Lock Pick

While creating a homemade pick for a tubular lock, we will make a cylindrical tool that will help displace the pins in the lock just as the key does. A ballpoint pen works great for this task because of its cylindrical body.

Material Required

  • Ballpoint Pen: the body of the ballpoint pen will work as the cylindrical tool needed to displace the pins in the tubular lock.
  • Scissors/Cutter: It is needed to cut notches on the ballpoint pen to create a tubular lock pick.

Steps To Make A Homemade Tubular Lock Pick

  • Step 1: Take a ballpoint pen with a diameter equal to or slightly smaller than the diameter of the keyhole of the tubular lock.
  • Step 2: Remove the ink tube and any springs from the pen, as we only need the pen’s body to make a tubular lock pick.
  • Step 3: Using a pair of scissors or a cutter, cut the tip of a ballpoint pen so you have a straw-like tool. 
  • Step 4: Make four or five vertical notches on the back of the pen. The number of notches depends upon the number of pins in your tubular lock. The notches should go up and down the edges of the pen. These will keep the pen flexible when it slides into the lock.
    back of the pen
  • Step 5: Insert the pen into the keyway of the circle lock. Insert the pen all the way inside the lock. If the pen gets stuck and you feel any resistance moving forward, lengthen the notches and try again. Do not force the pen inside, as it may break the notches created.
    pen into the keyway
  • Step 6: Once you align the notches on the pen with the pins of the tubular lock, shake both the lock and the pen until the pins come loose. You may have to shake it several times to succeed. 

If the lock still doesn’t unlock, you have no option but to invest in a lock pick to open the lock. In emergencies, it is possible to drill through the tubular lock to open it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I use a bump key to pick a tubular lock?

Answer – A bump or 999 key is a flat key with notches cut to the deepest point. Since you can only open tubular locks with a cylindrical key, you cannot use a bump key to pick a tubular lock.

Q2. Is it possible to remove a tubular lock by drilling?

Answer – A tubular lock may be removed by drilling it, although doing so completely ruins the lock. Therefore, you should only employ the technique in an emergency.

Q3. Can a homemade tubular lockpick be used to open all tubular locks?

Answer – No, a homemade tubular lockpick probably won’t be able to pick all tubular locks since cutting many notches on the ballpoint pen becomes challenging. You need to use a specialized tubular lock pick if your circular lock is a more secure kind with 7–10 pins.


The usual means of picking a lock do not work on the tubular locks. Hence, you cannot bypass the lock by using a screwdriver, credit card, or knife. In most cases, you would require a cylindrical tubular lock pick to pry open your tubular lock. However, you may try creating a homemade lock pick using a ballpoint pen to open your tubular lock without a key.
In case you were looking for instructions on making a tubular lock pick, this article must have helped you find detailed instructions. Please share it with your friends and family if you found the information useful. If you have any more questions about tubular locks, write to me in the comment section.

Leave a Comment

Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.