How to Make an Inexpensive DIY Lock Pick Practice Set - ITS Tactical

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How to Make an Inexpensive DIY Lock Pick Practice Set

By The ITS Crew

Lock Pick Practice

Whether you consider yourself a novice or pro when it comes to lock picking, there’s no denying that everyone needs to keep up their skill-set without damaging their house locks.

Today we’re going to show you how to build an inexpensive lock pick practice set for less than $40 that will rival the stands, kits and sets that cost three times that.

With just a quick trip to Home Depot, you’ll be on your way to creating your own set to work with and ensure that the next time you’re locked out of your house, you’ll be able to get back in!


The way we’ve designed this practice set, is to enable you to practice providing tension from both directions, i.e. clockwise and counter clockwise. As you might know from practicing yourself, it’s nearly impossible to tell which direction the plug in a cylinder is going to turn simply by looking at the lock.

Other visual queues must be used in order to read the direction the plug is going to turn and from which direction you’ll provide tension with your tension wrench. While we could take up an entire article just on technique, we’ll save that for an upcoming article.

Suffice to say that this set will allow you to practice for what you may potentially encounter when LEGALLY picking locks and makes an excellent practice station for your Bogota Entry Toolset. What it won’t help you practice for are the dummies that install their locks upside down, which will eventually cause pin spring problems. Make sure you don’t make that mistake when building this setup.


Not only will this practice set allow you to turn plugs in either direction, but the cylinders you’ll have with your purchased deadbolt sets will allow you to re-key or remove pins.

Lock Pick Practice

Removing pins is a great building-block method for learning how to pick locks. While again the scope of this article is the creation of this set, not necessarily teaching how to remove the pins. However, this is something that will be addressed in an upcoming article.

The cylinders you’ll see in the image to the right are removable from the deadbolt housing and with a simply sliding/prying motion, you can remove the cover and access the pins.

Beware of cheaper deadbolt sets you’ll see in your hardware store adventures, some lack the ability to access the pins and remove or re-key the lock.


The only real expenses for the set, provided you own tools, are the two deadbolt sets and wood. However, there are some specialized drill bits you’ll need that you may have hiding out in your tool box.

Lock Pick Practice

Don’t be afraid to open the deadbolt package up in the store to make sure it’s the kind we’re describing.

Here’s what you’ll need:


Essentially what you’ll be creating is two door jambs, but first you have to build the stand. We were able to find a 48″ x 9″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep piece of wood to make two stands for about $2. What’s great about buying this at Home Depot was that they’ll cut it for you. So for $2 we had four 12″ pieces of wood to work with, even though the project only requires two.

Make the Stand

Assembly is very straightforward after your wood is cut. Simply draw an outline of the upright 12″ piece of wood on the base piece and mark the location for your pilot holes in the bottom side of the upright piece and the top side of the base piece. Our three holes were marked at 2″, 4 1/2″ and 7″.

Lock Pick Practice

Now drill pilot holes (to keep the wood from splitting when you screw the two pieces together) with your small diameter drill bit all the way through the base piece, as well as up through the bottom side of the upright piece of wood. Flip your base piece over and using the pilot holes you drilled all the way through, countersink these to allow for clearance of the screw heads so they’ll fit flush.

Keeping the base board flipped over, line up the upright piece underneath it and screw your three screws in. You might want someone to hold and provide pressure to the base piece to ensure it stays still and that you don’t wind up with a gap where the two pieces meet.

Drilling Deadbolt Holes

As you’ll read in the instructions for the deadbolts you’ll buy, the 2 1/8″ circle that needs to be cut is either 2 3/8″ or 2 1/2″ in from the outside edge depending on what. Our measurement was at 2 3/8″. Remember that you’ll be repeating the instructions for both sides. Our instructions even had a template you could use to mark the location of your holes.

Lock Pick Practice

On our 12″ piece of wood, we measured 3″ down from the top of the upright piece and drew a nice straight line all the way around the upright. This will help you out when you drill the 1″ holes required for the actual deadbolt backset.

We’re not going to get into how to drill these holes, as it’s pretty simple. You need to (2) 2 1/8″ holes and (2) 1″ holes drilled deep enough in the sides to meet the larger 2 1/8″ hole on each side.

After your holes are drilled, insert the deadbolt backset and trace around the face plate of the latch. This is now the area you’re going to chisel out. This takes some patience and work, as you need to continuously check the fit to ensure the chiseled out area is deep enough. Be careful not to chisel out too much. You’re not going for style points here, just make sure it fits flush.

You can also mark where the screw holes are in the faceplate and drill pilot holes for those, although it’s not really necessary.

Hardware Assembly

At this point you can spray paint your stand if you’d like to, we just used flat black spray paint. This is just cosmetic though, but you’re welcome to throw some support our way and slap some ITS Stickers on there too!

Lock Pick Practice

Following the assembly directions on your deadbolts is the best course of action here. All you’re essentially doing though is inserting the backset, screwing down the faceplate, placing the deadbolt cylinder set in the hole (make sure your cylinder is facing the right direction!), placing the turn piece on the back and screwing it all together with the long screws that are included.

What you have now is an awesome place to practice your lock picking that allows you quick access to change out pins or even replace the deadbolts completely if you wear them out. Keeping graphite in the locks is a good way to ensure proper operation.

An option modification to this stand is to purchase a piece of non-slip drawer liner material and spray glue it to the bottom like we mention at the end of the video below. This will ensure your stand doesn’t slide around while you’re practicing.


We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on creating your own Lock Pick Station, please follow the lock sport code of ethics below and have fun! Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll show you in detail how to remove pins and some good techniques for picking.

Lock sport is an honest, ethical, and legitimate hobby. Unfortunately, the whole world hasn’t figured that out yet (though we’re working on it!). Because the lay person has a tendency to perceive what we do as somehow nefarious, it is extra important that we commit to following a strict code of ethics. For this reason, the above credo is non-negotiable in the lock sport community. Lockpicking should never, ever be used for illegal or even questionable purposes. Please do not misuse this information. We assume no responsibility for your actions, and in no way condone immoral activity. Help keep locksport fun for all by following strictly the one rule.

You may only pick locks you own or those you have been given explicit permission to pick.”

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  • Mark

    Saw the vid on Youtube last night…good job guys!!!

    • Thanks for the kind words Mark! Glad you liked it 🙂

  • Mike

    Great article! For those not familiar, the boards described will be labeled as “2×10” (pronounced 2 by 10) at the store. Just look, or ask, for a 2×10 and you won’t need to measure each set of boards to find what you’re looking for.
    Also, as someone that builds with wood almost daily, the risk of splitting the base plate with 3 screws in the center is very small. There is a slightly higher chance of splitting the end of the upright. The pre drilled holes will definitely make it easier to drive the screws though, so it’s still worth it. To make it even stronger, put a bit of wood glue or even Elmer’s glue on the end of the upright when assembling.
    A final note is that there are inexpensive kits for drilling the holes to install locks and door knobs. I’ve bought them for $10-$15 usually and they typically include the two size drills needed, a plastic guide and instructions. If you’re not familiar with drilling doors, the guide is a great help in positioning and keeping the holes straight.

    • Thanks Mike, figured it was a 2×10 🙂

      Appreciate the advice on the glue, that’s definitely something that we should have done. Good tip on the kits too!

  • Great idea! I need to dig my pick set out of the ol’ foot locker and start practicing again.

    • What’s your pick set doing at the bottom of your footlocker? LOL

    • When I was stationed on Johnston Atoll there wasn’t much to do so I got decent set of picks to practice with.
      I got a lot of free booze as I was the “unofficial” person to go to if you locked yourself out of your room haha.
      The set is buried in that locker somewhere!

  • Great! Now if “Red” sees this I have to go to the hardware store and make one of these. Ever since she saw your first article on lock picking she has wanted to learn this skill.
    Thanks Brian ;-P

    • LOL! So that would be a bad thing?? Just build one and hope she doesn’t see the article… “Hey honey, look what I made you!” you’ll score some hubby points for sure 🙂

    • “Red”

      You guys forget that I read these articles too. 😛 I’m already scoping out the local Home Depot deals.

  • As a suggestion you can save some money and still get the practice tensioning in both directions by buying a double cylinder deadbolt lock. These locks do not have a knob on the inside but are keyed both inside and out. Double cylinder deadbolts are designed to prevent an intruder from breaking the glass in a sidelight or window near the lock and just reaching in and twisting the knob. The locks are a little more expensive than single cyl. locks but not twice the price.

    • Great suggestion Cliff, a slimmed down stand could be made to incorporate just the one double cylinder deadbolt as well. I personally like the two single cylinders because you could have, for instance, two of the five pins in the left side lock then move right over to three of five pins in the right lock. Ideally it would be neat to have an even longer board with five different locks and be able to move from one pin all the way to five.

  • Benjamin Fasseel

    I just finished making mine. It was quick and easy and there actually enough room on mine to add a few more locks. So I think I might get some other types. I do have a question. Does anyone know how to make a bump key? I don’t want to buy one. I would much rather make my own. Great job Bryan it was a great article

    • Awesome Benjamin! Glad it was quick and easy for you. If you have extra space you should consider adding more and having a range of pins removed for even better practice. Bump keys are fairly simple to make, but are also inexpensive to purchase. To make a bump key you need a pippin file like 215 Gear has on their Website There’s a discount code through December 5th available for ITS Readers as well. Check out the 215 Gear Custom Tactical Bag article we wrote a few days ago to find it. The discount is good on any lock picking supplies they sell!

  • Curtis

    Homedepot will rekey the locks for you at around $5.00 each lock. There are also tools that make installing the lockset in the door easier but they cost around $50.00 for a set.

    • Curtis, to me $5 isn’t worth it. It’s so easy to do and you learn so much by doing it yourself. Kits with different pins are cheap and easy. Thanks for the tip though!

  • Kevin

    Looks great Bryan. I am putting this on my list of projects, but I think I am going to upgrade to 5 separate locks.

    • Sounds great Kevin, be sure to throw us a photo on our Facebook page so we can see the completed design 🙂

  • Agent 000

    Awesome article.

    A good place to find lots of locks, deadbolts, and Etc. is the RE-Store. Check to see if you guys have one in your city, I recently picked up about 15 different cylinders for about $10.

  • Bass

    So glad you guys did this write up, I wanted a practice stand but wasn’t about to pay the money for one. I thought making one would be simple and from this here it looks to be! I am definatly making one next week to practice with.

  • jon bodon

    Wow, this is great! Thank you, sir!
    Btw, awesome shirt in the video.

  • Matthew Baxter

    I think that you should change your product links to Home Depot or Lowes, not only do they sell the required items cheaper that Amazon but do so without the shipping. They also offer a 10% discount to Police, Fire, EMS, Military, Veterans and Retired Military year round That alone ensures my local bix box store will get my business and not Amazon.

  • Pingback: Make A DIY Lock Pick Set From A Windshield Wiper | Lifehacker Australia()

  • Pingback: Make A DIY Lock Pick Set From A Windshield Wiper | Gizmodo Australia()

  • Jon Massaro

    this website is the absolute best source for those with the tactical mindset

  • Andy Ramaeker

    I found a template for drilling the holes and faceplate at Lowe’s. It was only $13.00. It fits on the “door” and you just drill through. It’s AWESOME.

    • Kyle Shelley

      The template I bought today also came with the two sizes of hole saws (for $14-15 I think). It was hidden on the bottom and a Lowes employee pointed it out to me. This was a great deal when the 2-1/8 hole saw was going to be $12 alone.

  • iamnoskcaj

    It never even occurred to me to look for a how-to for building a practice set.  Last year I built one for myself, but it wasn’t as pretty as this one.  

    Having an indoor practice set sure is better than practicing outside (especially in the winter) on my exterior locks 😉

  • ericbarton1972

    Rather you are into doing LockSport International or good’ol  Hobby stuff like…” Im a man…I kmow how to pick locks!! “, SHTF skilz…… either way or for whatever your reason…..then without a doubt…….. Re-pinning / Re-keying your own Locks for practice picking ….  IS …the way to go for the Win !!!
    Believe it or not it will help you with your picking skilz quite a bit. Besides,  knowledge alone makes it worthwhile.
      With 1 or 2 good locks and pins from other locks/padlocks that you gut yourself help you to add 1 thru 7 ( cylinder dependent a course ) pins to work whatever skill level your at and/or lets you load up regular pins thru out or mix match different security pins ( serated, spool or mushroom ) to challenge your skill-set……from Newbie to Pro.. SelfPinning for the win!!!

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