How to Break a Padlock

by | Learn

Last Updated on May 28, 2021

If you left or misplaced the keys to your padlock, the only option is to break it. But how do you open a padlock if you do not have a metal or bolt cutter? Or if you are outside the house, what are your options to break the fasten?

Here, I will show you the alternative and simple ways to shatter a lock without hurting yourself. As we go through the different methods.

Before you proceed, you may want to read the best padlock here. We also have a guide for the best combination padlock.

Be sure that you consider the following to succeed:

padlock like a proThere are several strategies to break down the veil of safety padlocks. Each approach relies on a specific technique, procedure, and materials to break a padlock open.

The most common method is to use a comprehensive tool-cutter, hammers, or wrenches. This applies typically to a high-security padlock (to be discussed later). But, with a few simple methods and a little know-how, you can bypass a padlock without breaking a sweat.

Yes, it is possible. There are seamless ways to open the lock-up and reuse it. This approach can bypass low to medium-security bolts. Often it is doable on compact keyed locks, numbered-combination padlocks, and other traditional household personal lockers. (1)

So let’s begin.

How to Break a Padlock without Tools

1) Padlock Shimming

Shimming is probably the most widely used technique for bypassing padlocks. It entails detaching the locking bolt from a padlock’s shackle using a small piece of metal or a tin can.

When shimming a padlock, keep in mind whether it has a single or double-lock shackle. It can be difficult to tell from appearance. But, numerical padlocks are usually a single lock, which ensures that only one side of the padlock shackle engages in the locking mechanism. (2)

You need the following materials to perform the technique:

  • Small metal or tin can (coke can or a tin cap)
  • Tin snips like a sharpened scissor, alloy cutter, utility knife, or anything used to cut tin cans
  • Marker or pentel pen

Safety reminder: Please take whatever precautions you believe are appropriate to prevent cuts and wounds.

How to create shims?

  1. Get a coke can and trim off the top and the bottom part of the can, leaving the middle portion.
  2. Cut a little “M-shaped” in a small piece of tin alloy. Make around six shims in a single can.
  3. Make a rounded “M-shaped” fit its way into the locking mechanism in the shackle. The mid-point of a shim should either be round or angular.

Padlock shimming procedure:

Shimming a single or double-lock padlock is precisely the same, except you’ll need two shims for the double.

  1. Insert the shim on the space between the locking groove of the padlock body and the shackle.
  2. Twist it while moving the lock-shackle up and down to work its way to the locking mechanism until it pops open.
  3. The same procedure is best for double-lock padlocks, but you will be working on both sides.

You can watch the steps to do it here:

2) Padlock Picking or Jimmying

lock pickingThis approach is helpful in a variety of scenarios where you might be stuck. As a hobby, this skill set is entirely legitimate. You’ll never leave the house without bringing picking tools or tension wrenches; after learning how to pick a lock. You might, however, use a paper clip or something similar for your DIY shot. A pin tumbler lock is the most common lock in lock-picking.

Tool used:

  • Tension wrenches or lock picking tools
  • Paper clip
  • Plier

How to pick a lock using lock-picking tools?

  1. Insert lock-picking tool into the keyhole.
  2. Apply tension to plug.
  3. Locate the pin stack that resists the most.
  4. Raise the pins pile one by one until the stack’s location hits the right point with the shear line.
  5. Repeat the method until the plugs open freely.

How to make a lock-picking tool using two paper clips?

  1. Bend the first clip as straight as possible.
  2. Get the two ends and bend them to each other.
  3. Using a plier, crimp down the ends a little bit to make a loop section that fits the keyhole.
  4. Insert it about a centimeter inch and bend it out to the side to create tension.
  5. Get the second clip and bend only on section 45 degree angle. It serves as a lock picking tool.

There, you can start the lock-picking technique. Mastery, practice, and more practice are necessary for lock-picking.

More tutorials on this video:

How to Break a Padlock Easy

1) Breaking a padlock using 5.8 bolt and wing nuts

You need:

  • 5.8’bolt
  • 2 5.8″ wing nuts
  • Plier


  1. Put the first nut in the bolt until it reaches the head of the bolt.
  2. Put the other nut.
  3. Position the bolt in the shackle, locking the 2nd nut on the upper part of the shackle.
  4. Using a plier, turn the bottom nut clockwise until it pops open.

2) Destroying the keyhole and locking mechanism

You need:

  • Tin sheet
  • Lead and soldering iron
  • Hammer
  • Blind rivets
  • Screwdriver


  1. Cut a small piece of tin sheet 
  2. Round it enough to fit the keyhole housing.
  3. Put lead on one side of the tin.
  4. Using a hammer, insert the tin sheet into the space around the keyhole until it breaks.
  5. Using blind rivets, remove the cracked keyhole and all locking mechanisms.
  6. Unlock the shackle utilizing a screwdriver.

How to Break a Padlock Like a PRO

There are also more creative options for working with hard-locks that require comprehensive tools. 

1) Pop a padlock with two open wrenches

You need:

  • Two open wrenches
  • Elbow grease


  1. Get two open-ended wrenches that fit the correct size for the shackle of the lock.
  2. Hook the wrench’s open end over both sides of the lock-shackle.
  3. Squeeze the open-wrench handles inwards against one another until the lock-shackle breaks up.


2) Smash the lock with a handy hammer

  1. Insert your finger into the shackle loop and pull the shackle away from the top of the lock. If you don’t remove any of the extra slack from the lock-shackle, you won’t be able to knock the lock open.
  2. Hit the side of the lock repeatedly with a hammer or similar tool until the lock opens.


Did you have fun learning a new life hack today?

With the hectic daily schedules, there is always a higher chance that you forget or misplace your keys. Hence, developing the skills of lockpicking, shimming padlock, and other DIY methods in breaking a padlock is important.

If you want to contribute more ideas on how to break a padlock, be sure to leave a comment. Sharing this post will help other people to discover this life hack.

Before we end, here’s another learning guide on how to open a padlock without a key. Until next time!


(1) bolts –
(2) locking mechanism –

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.