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Identifying Set Pins


While you are picking a lock, try to identify which pins are set. You can tell a pin is set because it will have a slight give. That is, the pin can be pushed down a short distance with slight pressure, but it becomes hard to move after that distance (see chapter 6 for an explanation). When you remove the light pressure, the pin springs back up slightly. Set pins also rattle if you flick them with the pick. Try listening for that sound.
Run the pick over the pins and try to decide whether the set pins are in the front or back of the lock (or both). Try identifying exactly which pins are set. Remember that pin one is the frontmost pin (i.e., the pin that a key touches first). The most important skill of lock picking is the ability to recognize correctly set pins. This exercise will teach you that skill.

Try repeating this exercise with the plug turning in the other direction. If the front pins set when the plug is turned one way, the back pins will set when the plug is turned the other way.

One way to verify how many pins are set is to release the torque, and count the clicks as the pins snap back to their initial position. Try this. Try to notice the difference in sound between the snap of a single pin and the snap of two pins at once. A pin that has been false set will also make a snapping sound.

Try this excercise with different amounts of torque and pressure. You should notice that a larger torque requires a larger pressure to make pins set correctly. If the pressure is too high, the pins will be jammed into the hull and stay there.

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