Open A Deadbolt Lock With A Screwdriver

Well, hello there! So, you’ve stumbled upon this guide because you need to know how to open a deadbolt lock with a screwdriver, huh?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It can be a common dilemma, whether you’re locked out of your house or just trying to up your handyman skills.

And guess what? You’re in the right place to get all the info you need!

Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following:

  • what are deadbolt locks and how do they work?
  • The essential tools you need to unlock a deadbolt lock
  • A step-by-step guide to opening a deadbolt lock with a screwdriver
  • Common mistakes to avoid and troubleshooting tips
  • A discussion on the legal and ethical implications of lock picking

What are deadbolt locks?

Let’s dive in with the basics. Understanding your enemy, or in this case, your lock is the first step towards victory.

Basics of Deadbolt Locks

A deadbolt lock is a type of lock mechanism that provides superior protection compared to regular spring bolt locks.

Unlike spring bolt locks that can be easily opened with a credit card or a similar object, deadbolts are resistant to such intrusion attempts, making them a favorite for home security.

There are two main types of deadbolt locks: single-cylinder and double-cylinder.

  • Single-cylinder: A single-cylinder deadbolt is operated with a key from the outside and a turn-style lock from the inside.
  • Double-cylinder: Meanwhile, a double-cylinder deadbolt requires a key to open from both inside and outside. This difference is crucial to understand as it will affect the approach we take to open it with a small screwdriver.

For more information, check out this article about deadbolt lock types.

How Do Deadbolt Locks Work?

Unlock Deadbolt Locks

You may be wondering how does a deadbolt lock works and why is it different from a pin tumbler lock?

Well, a deadbolt lock operates through a unique mechanism. It features a solid metal bolt that moves in and out of the door jamb by rotating the key or the knob.

This mechanism offers increased security as the bolt is housed within the door, making it harder to pick or force open.

However, no lock is impervious, and deadbolts have their weaknesses too. Some older or cheaper models may be susceptible to lock bumping or picking. That’s where our handy-dandy screwdriver comes in!

What Do You Need To Open A Deadbolt Lock?

Open a closed door with a screwdriver

As with any task, having the right tools is essential. So what exactly will we need for this job?

Essential Tools

First off, you’ll need a screwdriver – pretty obvious, right? But not just any screwdriver will do. For this task, a small flathead screwdriver is most suitable due to its thin, flat shape. You’ll also need a tension wrench.

This tool will help apply the necessary pressure to the lock while you work with the screwdriver.

If you don’t have a tension wrench handy, a thin, flat, and rigid piece of metal like a bobby pin can also work as a substitute.

Precautions While Handling Tools

Before we dive into the steps, let’s remember that handling tools requires care. Safety should always come first.

Avoid rushing the process, as you could potentially damage the lock or even hurt yourself. Also, remember that this guide is meant to help you in emergency situations or for legal and ethical purposes and not to engage in illegal activities.

How To Open A Deadbolt Lock With A Screwdriver (Explained)

Unlock Deadbolt Lock With A Screwdriver

Let’s roll up our sleeves now and get down to business! First things first. Take a moment to observe the type of deadbolt lock you’re working with.

A good look can help you better understand how to approach the situation. Choose the right screwdriver. The simple screwdriver, preferably the flat-head one, is your best bet.

Also, make sure you’re comfortable handling the tools. Practice a bit with the tension wrench and the screwdriver to get a feel for them.

Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. Follow the steps outlined below to easily open a deadbolt lock with a screwdriver:

  • Step one: Applying Tension
  • Step two: Picking the Pins
  • Step three: Opening the Lock
  • Step Four: Monitoring Tension and Progress
  • Step Five: Incremental Progress
  • Step Six: Checking Your Progress
  • Step Seven: Turning the Lock
  • Step Eight: Celebrate Your Success

Step one: Applying Tension

Start by placing the tension wrench into the lower part of the keyhole. Apply gentle, consistent pressure in the direction the key would turn.

Remember, the key here (pun intended!) is subtlety. Overdoing the tension can make the task harder.

Step two: Picking the Pins

Identify the pins inside the keyhole using your screwdriver.

Try to set them using the screwdriver. You’ll feel a slight give or movement, which means the pin is set correctly. Patience and practice are crucial at this stage.

Step three: Opening the Lock

While maintaining tension with the wrench, continue to set the pins.

Once all the pins are set, the lock should give, allowing you to turn the wrench and open the locked door. Remember to maintain the tension throughout the process!

Step Four: Monitoring Tension and Progress

The next step involves multitasking. While you continue to apply pressure with the tension wrench, monitor the progress you’re making with the screwdriver.

As you set each pin, you should feel a tiny shift in the lock’s resistance. This shift signifies you’re on the right track.

It’s crucial to maintain steady pressure on the tension wrench to prevent the pins from falling back into their initial positions.

Step Five: Incremental Progress

Picking a lock is a delicate process. You might not get all the pins on the first go, and that’s okay.

When you feel the give of a pin, it’s a small victory. Celebrate it, but remember to stay focused.

If one pin falls back down, you’ll need to reset it while maintaining the positions of the other pins. Stay patient and keep trying until you’ve set all the pins.

Step Six: Checking Your Progress

You can check your progress by very gently easing off the tension. If the pins start to drop, you’ll hear a faint click, signifying you’ve correctly set some of them.

Reapply the tension and continue picking. Be careful not to let up too much tension, though, or you might undo all your hard work!

Step Seven: Turning the Lock

With all pins set, you should now be able to turn the lock. Maintain steady tension and rotate the tension wrench as if it were the key.

The lock should turn, allowing you to disengage the bolt and open the door.

Step Eight: Celebrate Your Success

Finally, once you’ve turned the lock, congratulate yourself! You’ve just picked a deadbolt lock with a screwdriver. Be sure to carefully remove your tools to avoid damaging the lock or your tools.

Remember, though, that this should only be used in emergencies and not as a method for unauthorized access.

Remember, lock picking can take time and requires plenty of practice. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first few times. Patience, persistence, and mindful attention to the process will eventually lead to success.

Common Mistakes When Picking A deadbolt Lock

Mistakes are an integral part of learning, but when it comes to lock picking, some common errors could make the task unnecessarily challenging or even damage your lock. Let’s look at a few of them and their solutions:

Over-tensioning: One of the most common mistakes is applying too much tension. This pressure makes it difficult for the pins to move, preventing the lock from opening. If you’re struggling to set the pins, it could be a sign you’re applying too much tension.

Solution: Try using less pressure on the tension wrench, maintaining just enough tension to hold the pins in place after they’re set.

Using the wrong tools: Using an inappropriate screwdriver or tension wrench can complicate the process and possibly damage the lock.

Solution: Ensure that the tools you use are suitable for the lock. The screwdriver should be thin and flat (a thin flathead screwdriver is ideal), and the tension wrench should be thin and rigid.

Rushing the process: Trying to speed through the process can lead to both the above mistakes, resulting in failed attempts.

Solution: Be patient. Lock picking, especially for beginners, is a slow process. Take your time, apply steady pressure, and be gentle with the pins.

Misreading the lock: Not all locks are the same. Failing to consider the type of lock you’re working with can lead to inappropriate methods and failed attempts.

Solution: Examine the lock carefully before you begin. Know if it’s a single or double-cylinder deadbolt lock, as the method may vary.

Tips For Unlocking A deadbolt Lock Easily

Picking a Deadbolt lock With a screwdriver

Unlocking a deadbolt with a screwdriver isn’t easy, but these tips and tricks can enhance your success rate and make the process a little smoother:

Practice: As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Try practicing on old locks in your home. Remember, though, not to practice on locks that are in use as you risk damaging them.

Get a feel for the tools: Spend some time getting to know your tools before you start. Familiarize yourself with how much pressure your tension wrench needs and how your screwdriver interacts with the pins.

Maintain your tools: A well-kept tool is a more effective tool. Keep your screwdrivers and tension wrenches in good condition. They should be clean, straight, and rust-free for optimal performance.

Visualize the lock: It can help to have a clear mental image of what’s happening inside the lock. If possible, try to look at a diagram or cut-away view of a lock to better understand how the pins move and interact.

Breathe and take breaks: It’s easy to get frustrated if things aren’t going your way. If you’re feeling stressed, take a break. A clear head will make the task much easier.

Know when to call a professional: If you’ve tried multiple times and still can’t get the lock open, it might be time to call a professional locksmith. Trying to force it could cause damage that makes it even harder for a professional to open it later.

Remember, these skills are meant for emergency situations, not for illegal activities. Always use them responsibly!


Unlocking a deadbolt with a screwdriver can be a handy skill in certain situations. With the right tools, patience, and practice, you can get the job done.

If you’re trying to open a car’s door instead, then make sure you check out our guide on how to unlock a car door with a screwdriver. we shared a lot of useful tips there.