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which way do you turn the lock?

Having read the FAQ's you are still unfulfilled and seek more enlightenment, so post your general lock picking questions here.

which way do you turn the lock?

Postby Wiplash » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:59 am

Is there a fool proof method for determining which way to turn the lock. I have come upon some locks the need to be turned clockwise and then there are some that need to be turned counterclockwise
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby Olson Burry » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:00 am

In my experience, padlocks open clockwise.

What you can do sometimes to tell, is to lift all the pins up, using the flat edge of an upside-down pick say, apply tension and remove the pick. When you remove the tension you should hear some pins drop down if you're going the right way.

The other thing I heard as a general rule of thumb which I could be wrong about, is that you turn away from the side of the door jamb the lock is installed on. So I suppose this means if the lock is on the left side of the door, you're looking to go clockwise, and on the right, anti-clockwise.

Either way, sometimes your regular door locks will pick much easier one way than the other, and you could use a plug spinner if it happens to be the wrong direction, however most of the UK rim lock mechanisms I've come across will actually function both ways anyway.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby jimb » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:24 am

Olson Burry wrote:The other thing I heard as a general rule of thumb which I could be wrong about, is that you turn away from the side of the door jamb the lock is installed on. So I suppose this means if the lock is on the left side of the door, you're looking to go clockwise, and on the right, anti-clockwise.



This works with dead bolts almost always, but with a kik it could go either way.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby poor paperclip picker » Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:03 am

I also found out that some wafer locks I have only go one way, and to pick it you just have to try each way. But I found with some expirience you can tell when you start picking the way that the cylinder won't turn... If that makes any sense.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby thedominator7a » Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:54 pm

A cheap alternative to a plug spinner would be to use a decent sized rubber band and a nail grinded at the end to fit the lock. Attach another nail on the non grinded side with the rubber band and you have a simple home made plug spinner. The rubber band has to be wrapped around the nail after you attached the top (handle.) This should form a T shape.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby bushd » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:32 pm

At the university I attend when using my key I've noticed that the correct turn is away from the side the lock is on. For instance: Lock is on the left side then correct is clockwise where if it were on the right side correct is counterclockwise. Now, these are also best locks that also have it set to allow for unlocking via key turn the opposite way. This certainly won't be the common case but I'd use this if I didn't have a custom or purchased turner.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby yono » Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:57 pm

for me, except for desk locks, and car door locks,experience and familiarization is the key to determine which way is the correct turn of the lock (in lockPicking works) here are some in my knowledge.
*most mortise lock cylinders turn clockwise to open.
*for Double profile cylinders, if it is installed upside down, the turn is counterclockwise.
**but then it is a process of constant learning. sometimes i make some misjudment on my direction in turning the lock cylinder when picking. and i just simply solve it with my plug spinner. regards.
hi everyone, im glad to be a member of this very interesting community, our community of locksmiths. i hope i could help others, within my ability, and hope you can help me too, God bless us all fellow locksmiths.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby Blindbraille » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:55 pm

Olson Burry wrote:In my experience, padlocks open clockwise.


Lol if that's true it's only because you've only ever tried to opened them one way. In MY experience every single padlock opens either way, clockwise or counter clockwise. I know (as someone stated previously) that all deadbolts are opened by turning the lock away from the jam/doorframe. I suspected there might be a failsafe way to tell which way a lock would open but it seems there isn't, not one that I've found yet. Many times it isn't even the lock manufacturers fault, but rather the inexperience of some amateur home improvement wannabe. I've seen them installed upside down, off kilter and once, before the door was put up, backwards. With the lock on the wrong side of the door. Only thing I suggest is to Google the hamdle/lock, that's if the manufacturer marks are visible. They aren't always but it has been a help to me in the past. Great question though.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby Robotnik » Sat Dec 26, 2015 3:32 pm

Blindbraille wrote:
Olson Burry wrote:In my experience, padlocks open clockwise.


Lol if that's true it's only because you've only ever tried to opened them one way. In MY experience every single padlock opens either way, clockwise or counter clockwise. I know (as someone stated previously) that all deadbolts are opened by turning the lock away from the jam/doorframe. I suspected there might be a failsafe way to tell which way a lock would open but it seems there isn't, not one that I've found yet. Many times it isn't even the lock manufacturers fault, but rather the inexperience of some amateur home improvement wannabe. I've seen them installed upside down, off kilter and once, before the door was put up, backwards. With the lock on the wrong side of the door. Only thing I suggest is to Google the hamdle/lock, that's if the manufacturer marks are visible. They aren't always but it has been a help to me in the past. Great question though.


While it's true that some padlocks - Master laminated, etc.- open either direction, many do open only in the clockwise direction. Out of what's in front of me currently, there's nothing that opens either direction, but I have a Yale 850, Yale 840, Sargent quatrefoil, American 5200, and an American Series 10 that only open clockwise.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby LocksportSouth » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:02 am

I may be wrong, but in my experience most locks mounted in doors turn away from the edge that is opening, the reason for this is that the action of turning the key is usually actuating a cam of some kind which is pulling the locking bolt back, or away from the door. If you stand at a door and turn the key to unlock, imagine the action, as you turn the key, of throwing the bolt back away from the locking edge of the door. This means that usually if it's a right hand handle/lock you'll be turning anti-clockwise (pulling the bolt back, towards the hinge side of the door), and if it's a left hand side locking door (I've not actually ever seen many of these here in the UK, but I'm sure they exist somewhere) you'd turn the key clockwide, pulling back away from the door edge. For bottom or top mounted locks (such as on shops, etc), the same rule applies - imagine you're applying rotational action to pull the bolt back away from the locking edge, and you generally won't go wrong :).

All the padlocks that I have owned open clockwise. If you own any of those see-through cutaway plastic locks, you'll see how this works and it's also linked to turning rotational action into moving a cam to retract the locking bars, however I could see that padlocks could go either way so it's not quite as exact a science for padlocks.

Note that Euros will technically turn either way but if mounted in a door you'll be limited by which way the actuator can throw the bolt.
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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby GWiens2001 » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:24 am

While a majority of padlocks I have used have turned either both ways or clockwise, some of them do turn counter-clockwise to open.

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Re: which way do you turn the lock?

Postby MBI » Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:28 pm

Wiplash wrote:Is there a fool proof method for determining which way to turn the lock. I have come upon some locks the need to be turned clockwise and then there are some that need to be turned counterclockwise


If you're picking unmounted locks, i.e. not in use, then it doesn't matter which way you turn it. You'll be able to tell when you have it picked either way.
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