I'm assuming that you do have a tension tool, this will realy only work if you have your cylinder in a vice & the key for it etcetra, don't try this on a padlock! (And this is nothing more than an example!)
Put the key in the key way and turn it 90Âº, place the handle of the tension tool into the keys keyring hole, lightly rest your index & middle finger on the tension tool, furthest away from the key. lightly begin to apply tension, keep an eye on the plug, or if you are using a profile cylinder the cam. When you see it turn, that is about as close as you will can get as to how much tension is needed, now if you repeat all of the the above except this time your touch is so light you don't even see the plug or cam move but you can feel the vibration of them moving via your finger tips that is what you need to train your muscles into memorizing. It is the mastering of the tension tool that presents the biggest challange in the whole lockpicking process, used incorrectly the tension tool will actually do more to defeat you than assist you, it is all a matter of delicacy and feel so practicing is paramount....
Now your picking order, the pin hole alignment can be perfectly straight centre line/right off set centre line/left off set center line/or random, to find out what you have here's what I normally do:
Insert your tension wrench into the key way and apply medium to firm tension anti-clockwise, insert a diamond pick all the way to the back of the plug and rake two or three times, and make a note of what pins have set high and what pins have not, now turn the tension clockwise and do the same again.
If the rear pins set high when anti-clockwise tension was applied, & the front pins set high when clockwise tension was applied you have right hand centre line off set, if the opposite happened you have left hand centre line off set, & if middle to front set high in both directions (ie:no change) you have random.
If you are still confused about what pin alignment is, go back to the MIT guide there are some pictures, Chapter 6 "Basic Scrubbing" Figure 6.2:
As for what direction to pick, my personal preference is from the rear to the front, some locks won't pick this way I know! but that is where a plug spinner comes into play.
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