Here’s How To Open A Padlock With A Can

We’ve all been there, at some point. We come to a locker, or a shed, or something else, and realize we’ve forgotten the combination on the padlock. Some of us just sigh, set aside ten bucks to buy a new one, and break out the bolt cutters. But the more resourceful among us grab a beer can and get to work.

Pad Unlocked

As you can see in the video above, a fairly simple series of steps lets you build a shim that lets you pop open pretty much any conventional padlock. But how does that even work in the first place?

Well, with pressure. Here’s how shims work, from a lockpicking perspective; a lot of basic locks, like a deadbolt lock, are just basically a dumb piece of metal rammed into the door. This is especially true of “self-locking” mechanisms, which are spring-loaded metal bars. A shim slides between that dumb piece of metal and the door, giving you some leverage to pop it open or push the bolt back far enough to get through the lock. It’s a fairly common strategy that uses the lock’s nature against it, and is mostly a matter of finding a material thin and strong enough to work between the bolt and the surface it’s latched onto.

Locked Out


Needless to say, you should not exploit this knowledge to go where you’re not allowed, because that’s both illegal and probably something of a bad idea anyway. But, if you’re locked out of your shed, need to get into your locker, or just want to be sure you can get into a place you’ve locked up even if you lose the scrap of paper you kept the combination on, at least now you’ve got the tools to get in.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.

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