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Right, let’s get better at this thing we do – lock picking.

At least once a week someone will ask me about picking dimple locks.

Dimple locks are basically pin-cylinders that use the flat side of the key’s blade as the biting area. So rather than cutting into the edge of the key as in a standard pin-cylinder, dimple locks turn the key ninety degrees and cut onto the flat side. Since the cuts resemble dimples, the generic name ‘Dimple locks’ has been attributed to all the many locks that use this design.

A Dimple Key. Note how the warding (the grooves) cut through the dimples. On a standard key the warding is on the side of the key and the biting (the cuts) along the edge. On a dimple key they are both on the side. It looks great but not only offers no added security, but also helps us to pick the lock, using the warding as picking guides.

There’s many of them out there and people seem to be intrigued. I’ll say this now. Dimple locks are nothing special, and rely on the novelty value of a few small changes to convince people they somehow offer more security. They do not. They’re basically a standard pin-cylinder lock, with bigger pins and the key turned 90 degrees. That’s pretty much it! The other main difference is the keyway is also turned 90 degrees (to accommodate the key), but apart from that, Dimple locks are just pin cylinders! Do not be scared to pick them! However, we need to know a little bit more about them, and some tools that make them even easier to pick.

The same as a standard pin-cylinder in a lock. Split pin stacks with a spring. Don't let them fool you, you need to know a few things, and have some specialist locksmith tools, but you CAN pick them locks.

Like standard pin-cylinder locks, each pin set comprises of a spring, a driver pin (top pin) and a key pin (the pin that touches the key), and the key has the job of raising or lowering the pins to make sure they’re not obstructing the shearline so the barrel can turn. Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s a pin cylinder lock! In the saturated market of locks, you need to offer easily identifiable changes to arouse customer interest, and there’s no doubt about it some of the dimple keys look amazing, and arouse such interest.

A standard pin-cylinder key. The biting (cuts) are along the top edge and the warding (grooves) are along the side. A Dimple key has both the biting and the warding on the side. It looks complex and difficult but it is not, it's much the same, it's an illusion!

The combination of grooves and dimples on the flat key sure does look different from what we’ve seen on a standard key, and has the initial desired impact of suggesting some new level of security. But turn a standard pin-cylinder key on its side. Those are the grooves we see on the side of a standard key, the lines that run in the warding of the lock. Just because the dimples cut into these grooves doesn’t add any security – it just suggests it to the uninitiated! Having the biting (the cuts) cut into the warding (the lines that ‘fit’ the keyway) gives the impression of greater security. It’s just an impression.

Now, although you can pick them with standard lock picks, it can be a bit of a hassle. Due to the turning of the key blade, there’s less room for your picks. No need to worry. There are special sets of ‘Dimple Picks’ which have been designed to deal with this. Every lock picker should own a set, then you can Single Pin Pick and Rake them as usual.

The SouthOrd 'Dedicated Dimple Pick Set'. All you need to pick dimple locks. Note the 'flag' type picks. You follow the warding in the dimple lock with the pick, then twist to pick - or 'lift' - the pins. The rakes at the bottom are particularly useful for setting a few pins before you start Single Pin Picking.


The Dedicated Dimple lockpicks are quite something. They use the wards (the guiding lines) in the lock as a guiding line to pick. It really works perfectly, it’s as if the lock contains the seeds of its own destruction! There’s more. How do we cope with the lack of space in the lock that I previously mentioned? Answer: The Dedicated Dimple lockpicks are inserted into the lock, using the guide lines provided for the key, and then TILTED. Dedicated Dimple lock Picks are more like a flag. A long post with the pick offset to the side. It’s inserted into the lock until the flag is under the dimple, at which point it can be tilted, the shaft of the pick – being cylindrical – can be twisted – causing the flag to turn and lift the dimple. After that it’s the same as standard single pin picking

Insert tension tool and apply small amount of turning pressure

Identify the binding pin (the pin with the most resistance)

Pick it

Repeat until open!

There’s a variety of Dimple lock picks in the sets, all with slightly different flags, much like having a selection of hooks, or half-diamonds, and you’ll find the one that’s right for you  - that is right for that pin, that lock – as you pick the locks, as you practice.

The Dedicated Dimple lock Picks also contain a couple of absolutely super RAKES, to have a couple of Dimple Rakes is just excellent! And again, the guides (lines, wards, etc) in the lock provide the perfect place to insert your rake. Tension is applied and the rake is raked! Moved in and out, the tension adjusted accordingly.


It’s usual to rake the dimple lock first, set as many pins as possible using the simplest technique, raking  – and you’ll usually have success of at least two, sometimes three. And then Single pin pick the remainder.

So there you go! There really is no mystery to picking dimple locks. Use everything you’ve learned picking standard pin cylinders, get a set of Dedicated Dimple picks, and apply that knowledge and those tools to dimple locks and hey-ho, everything’s groovy!

Theres also a fair few Dimple Bump keys, which again, use the same technique as usual lock bumping. 

So – you want to pick Dimple locks? Familiarize yourself with the locks and tools available, and practice, practice, practice.

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