far2picky wrote:Starting simple -- can anyone tell me (by looking at the picture I took of the key) how many pins it has? And how I can determine pincount from the key? I apologize if I missed such an explanation on this site somewhere previously (and would appreciate even a link to such a thread). From there, is it just a matter of applying a lot of tension as I pick? And (as asked earlier), if I apply a lot of tension won't that mess with security pins?
Your lock has 4 pins, using a M1 key way. Likely a cheapy Master Lock knockoff. 2 easy ways to determine pin count, firstly, look at the key closely and identify all the flat parts cut into the key. These are where the pins rest and therefore how many you have. Also, any key that looks like that, and is the same length will likely belong to a 4 pin lock, as a M1 Keyblank only has 4 cuts on it, unless its a homemade or nonstandard lock. But I've never run into one that has more. Another easy way to tell is take your tension wrench handle and use it to lift up all the pins, slowly pulling it out of the lock without applying tension. You should hear each 'click' of the pin falling back into place and that will give you your pin numbers.
As for the 'How much tension" question, it's difficult as, simply put, a lot of locks just require stupid hard amounts of tension to turn. One thing to look out for is make sure your tension wrench is not dragging out the bottom of the keyway, on the actual housing, as this could increase it.
Apply just enough tension until you see the plug shift then stop, that means somewhere, its binding, and you should be able to feel it. If you can't then unfortunately yes, it may just be a lock that you have to tension hard to pick. Some, not many, but some are like that.
I am doubtful your lock has security pins. But if everything is set and the lock is still not opening it may. At that point try pressing a little harder on each pin, testing it. If you feel increased tension that's called counter rotation and is often indicative of security pins.
Hope this helps and good luck!