How to Open a Door With a Knife

Three Parts:Getting Ready to Pick the LockPicking the LockUsing Other Tools

There might come a time that you get locked out of your house – or a room in your house, and you don’t have or can’t find the key. Luckily, you can usually pick a standard door lock with a knife, including a typical butter knife. There are several ways to do this. Never break into property not your own, though!

Part 1
Getting Ready to Pick the Lock

  1. Image titled Open a Door With a Knife Step 1.png
    Determine the type of lock, and understand how it works. If the door is locked with a bolt in addition to a lock in the door knob, you are going to be out of luck, at least when it comes to using a knife to get it open. However, you should be able to open a typical lock if it uses a spring-loaded latch system or has a button lock.[1]
    • In a spring-loaded system, the latch springs out from a latch pocket that is built into the door jamb and keeps the door shut. But if you turn the knob or handle, you should be able to retract the latch. That is, unless it’s locked.
    • To unlock this kind of a door, you should be able to take a butter knife or putty knife and manipulate the latch enough to retract it and open the door. The simplest lock to open, though, is the kind with the push button as the locking mechanism. All you will need to do with such a lock is to manipulate the inside of the lock enough to pop the button back out.
  2. Image titled Open a Door With a Knife Step 2.png
    Obtain a knife to open the door. You may not want to use a very sharp knife or a knife with a very sharp tip to open a door lock. One slip and you could injure yourself with the knife. A simple butter knife or putty knife might work, so considering using that first.
    • A thin knife with a sharp point may be necessary depending on the size of the keyhole, though. You could use a pocket knife if the lock is very small, such as a bike lock. [2]
    • If the hole in the outside handle is a small circle instead of a slit, you could choose a paperclip or hair clip instead of a knife as it’s safer. If there is a slit on the outside handle, though, a knife should work.[3]

Part 2
Picking the Lock

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    Put the knife blade in the key hole. Again, you may need a small knife blade to accomplish this. The lock will need to be a pin tumbler lock. Essentially, you will be using the knife as a torque wrench or wiggling it around like a key.[4]
    • Stick the blade into the lock as far as it will go. Put it in the bottom half of the keyhole. Apply pressure, first in one direction, and then in the other direction. Basically, you will want to wiggle the knife around in the keyhole. [5]
    • You may hear a click. If you do, the lock should give a bit. That means you’re in! It can take some time to get the lock open, though.[6]
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    Put the knife between the door and the door jamb’s striker plate. Work it in until you feel the end of the knife bottom out on the door latch. Most people are familiar with how this works. You need to find the spot where the door latches.[7]
    • Pry open the latch by sweeping the end of the knife and moving the latch inward. Take the butter knife, and slide it between the door and the door frame, starting about three inches at the top of the door knob.
    • Slide the knife until you find the door’s bolt. Push the knife in, working it until you slide the bolt out of the door jamb. [8]

Part 3
Using Other Tools

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    Take an unfolded paper clip or hair clip and use it with the knife. This will increase your chances of success with a knife. Put it above the knife blade, while keeping the knife blade in the key hole.
    • Apply twisting pressure to the lock with the knife blade at the same time. If using a paper clip, hammer the end of the paper clip to flatten it before trying to put it in the door.[9]
    • You want to rake the pick across the keyhole pins. You want to be careful not to break the lock or the knife so you may need to carefully wriggle the knife for a while until you hear a click.
    • Insert the tension wrench into the lock opening’s bottom and turn the lock to the side as if you were unlocking the door with a key. Keep holding the tension wrench and apply pressure. Insert the flattened paperclip above the tension wrench, pushing until you meet resistance. Push up on the pin with the paperclip. [10]
  2. Image titled Open a Door With a Knife Step 6.png
    Try another tool like a credit card or lock picking kit. The most common tool used to pick a lock is a tension wrench. If you don’t have a tension wrench, you could use a very small hex key. A flat head screwdriver could also work. [11]
    • You could also try a credit card if you’re trying to get through a lever-type doorknob. Just slide the card into the crack in the door, where the lock is, similar to the process with a knife. Be aware you might ruin the card, though.[12]
    • At the same time, put pressure on the door with your free arm so the latch doesn’t spring back out. You may need to make this motion several times before you can get in the door.[13]


  • Be careful when opening a door with a very sharp knife!
  • Call a locksmith. It will cost you some money, but you won't risk damaging the door.
  • The wider the slit between door and frame, the easier it is to open. Tight-fitting doors cannot be opened this way.


  • Don't do this on other people's property. Remember it can be a crime to break into someone's house. Do not ever commit a crime.
  • Do it fast and keep still as you do it.
  • Make sure you don't cut yourself!

Things You'll Need

  • Knife or slim flat headed screwdriver
  • Butter knife, optional

Article Info

Categories: Doors and Windows