Guide to Hand Made Locksmith Tools – Shims

Hand made Shims

Making Shims

Shims are fairly easy to make and use. They can be used to open a pin-tumbler cylinder that may be otherwise very difficult to pick, or they can be used if a driver pin has extended into the plug chamber where there’s no key pin.

1. First, remove a security tag from a CD or DVD case, or any other else with a tag on it.

2. Next, cut it open, and remove the two strips of metal inside it.

3. Now, bend it slightly between your index finger and thumb to give it a more rounded shape that will fit the lock easier.

4. Insert it into the back of the lock between the plug and the cylinder. The shim should be inline with the top of the keyway, so that it will be able to pass between the top pins and key pins.

5. Now, push in on the shim, while lifting the pin up and down. You’ll know when it works because the shim will move in a little with each pin you set. Repeat for each separate pin.

6. Once you’re done, simply turn the plug normally.

Hand made Shims

1. Security tags

Hand made Shims

2. The metal strips from inside the security tags

Hand made Shims

3. Shaping the metal strips

Hand made Shims

4. Inserting metal strip into the back of the lock between the plug and the cylinder

Hint & Tips: Be gentle, the shims don’t require a lot of pressure. Some locks with much tighter tolerances such as Sargent locks are more difficult to shim than locks with very loose tolerances.

Take a look at my youtube video on using shims here.

Taken from our archives of a previous print publication in October 2006

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