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Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:05 am
by Psychlonic
You've heard about the aluminum ones you can snip from cans but they're shit.

Moving on.

Instead, why not make them from steel so they don't crumple immediately when you try to use them? Speaking with Sicarius recently I'd mentioned this idea but I'll elaborate in this topic how you can have your own unlimited, effective padlock shims for free using only a couple simple tools.

First you'll need stock. The best common material out there for this job is steel banding, used to bundle together lumber, bricks, and other building materials. This steel is thin and springy - perfect for shims not to mention picks, wrenches, and other tools. If that's completely unavailable to you in your area (construction sites?) you can opt for lighter weight steel food cans. These lack spring but will still make an acceptable shim if you select a thin enough can.

Today's internet has a plethora of tutorials on making the aluminum ones so I'll direct you to Google for looking up the shape and general dimension of these. Oh yes, welcome to a half ass guide. Instead of using aluminum however, you want to cut your shape from the steel. Being tougher, you'll need the right tool. Tin snips work great, those serrated utility scissors - sometimes called magic scissors - will cut through, dremel obviously... if you're hung up on this part feel free to reply and I'll try to help.

Once you've gotten your rough cut finished, file to a proper finish. If you lack access to files, a dremel, or anything else capable of doing this you might get away with fine use of your cutting tool. Again, if there are problems reply.

At this point you need to shape the shim. With commercially bought shims, you typically receive a set that can handle different diameter shackles. In your case, you need to do the shaping yourself and the best way to do this is find a cylinder you can hammer the shim against. Thick nails or bolts can work, maybe a shackle itself if you have a long shackle padlock, just something round and strong enough to endure being worked without bending. Then, you just hammer a few times until it's rounded. While springy, even strapping steel will work here as it's small enough at this point to overcome that property and retain a rounded shape.

If possible, try to create several sets that can be used for various sizes of padlocks.

Often, this is the fastest way to get through low security padlocks which are still all too common because of their price and the perception that your average person can't get past them with non-destructive means. (Sadly, this isn't necessarily wrong.) While even the infamous Masterlock No.4 can be picked rather quickly, shims are still faster and far less fussy when you take light levels and hasp arrangement into account. Many locks may be in a lit area so time on target is ideally kept to a minimum. Keep some kind of lubricant for the lock handy and apply prior just in case it's a bit weathered. Speed is always nice, right?

Outside of being a budget option, this also leaves no purchasing trail so you're never on record having bought tools like this. They work fine, give it a try. I think you'll be happy with the results and hopefully open up new areas to you. Cheers.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:52 am
by Sicarius
I prefer lock picking, but I still enjoy trying new techniques and encourage others to do so. My main beef with these tools is carrying them as they are not flat. Try storing them in a small case, perhaps with foam or cloth, and then put the small case into your pouch. The tighter the fit on the tools, the more silent it will be. That should eliminate rattling to a minimal level or non-existent level. I did this with my bump keys, although I never really use them in the field.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:56 am
by Psychlonic
Made correctly, they should stack on top of each other fine and they can then be bound by a band, tie, tape, etc. You'd probably still want a case for them anyway though.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:34 pm
by Bruce Wayne
I have padlock shims, but I haven't gotten it to work properly for me. My favorite way of lock bypassing is the shove knife or a plastic card for cheap doors. Other than that, the basic lock picks.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:38 pm
by Psychlonic
More than likely if you're using them correctly, the internal components are just a little stiff. Here's a great video that shows them in use with a clear padlock so you can see what's going on inside:

Code: Select all
BTW I know it's weird to have to copy and paste links and seems annoying, but it keeps people from seeing their video being linked to from here lessening the chance that they'll be pulled.

I'm with you on carding. You might also be interested in the under-the-door tool that's described a few pages back or can be found in action on YouTube. Great device in the right circumstances.

Another common padlock exploit that I believe the LPL describes a few times on YouTube is that many cheaper models can be bypassed by simply shoving a long probe as far in as you can and manually shifting the spring loaded hasp catch over.

I'm all for lock picking and don't feel training in it should be replaced by any of these methods of course, but many times it's a fast way to bypass the frustration of a stubborn lock cylinder.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:52 pm
by Wind
Thanks for the heads-up on links. I had no idea why people did that until now. Also, how do you put it in the text the way you recommend?

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:45 pm
by Bruce Wayne
Incredibly helpful Psyclonic! Thanks for the link. I have heard of the under the door tool and the long probe for padlocks, just don't have them. At least not yet. And I agree. I believe in short cuts, but not forgetting the main road.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:58 am
by Psychlonic
Wind wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:52 pm
how do you put it in the text the way you recommend?
Code tags are above the main post field, next to the quotes option. Bold > Italics > Underline > Quotes > Code

We used to redirect through an anonymizing service to avoid the hassle but it's been defunct for a minute.

Re: Better Homemade Padlock Shims

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 2:15 pm
by Wind