How to Pick a Padlock using Padlock Shims

Padlock shims are designed for use on padlocks with spring operated latches. Generally, they are more effective on cheaper types of padlocks. More expensive padlocks tend to be made to better specifications and are therefore more resistant to opening with padlock shims. For padlock shims to be effective there must be sufficient clearance between the shackle diameter and the holes in te padlock body to enable insertion of the shims. On single latch padlocks, any slack in the pivot side will help if the clearance is minimal.'s padlock shims are manufactured from the highest quality carbon spring steel to give them more durability and a longer life. Oftentimes a shim or a pair of shims will open several locks. Occassionally, with the better made padlocks, it may become necessary to try a new padlock shim if it becomes damaged.

Method of Use

First determine whether the padlock is single or double latched. If you don't know, then start by sliding a single shim down the inside of the pivot leg of the shackle to feel for a latch. Ideally, knowledge of the lock is the best way of knowing whether it is a single or double latch.

Single Latch Padlocks

For most padlocks, the latched leg of the shackle is generally on the same side as the serrations of the key. Choose a shim having the same of slightly larger bend radius than the shackle diameter. A slightly larger radius will close down to the correct shape more accurately than an undersized one will open up. It may also be necessary to shorten the length of the arms before using a shim on smaller padlocks.

Proper Use of Padlock Shims

  • Exert some pressure on the pivot side of the shackle to ease the shackle towards the latch side and increase the clearance between the shackle diameter and the hole.
  • Then insert the shim into the clearance on the outside of the shackle opposite the latch and twist and push the shim down as far as possible.
  • When the shim is fully inserted, rotate the shim around the shackle so that the tongue of the shim approaches the latch from the side and eases it back. Once the shim had been rotated until the wings of the shim are pointing outwards away from the lock, it is likely that the latch has been sprung and the shackle can be pulled to open the lock.
  • On some types of padlocks with weak latch springs, it may be possible to force the shim down onto the latch(es) directly from above, and ease it (them) back. However, if this technique is used on a latch with strong springs, the tip of the shim could bend and the latch would not be pushed back far enough to release the shackle.

Opening Combination Padlocks

Opening a combination type padlock is different from opening a standard inexpensive padlock. Padlock shims are not the proper tools to use for this type of lock. For that matter, neither are standard lock picks. 
It's really easy to forget or misplace the combination to padlocks on your have in your own home like the tool shed, or your gym locker, your children's school locker, or anyplace else these common locks are found. Learning how to pick a combination lock isn't as difficult as you may think! We know of a handy, no-frills guide that teaches you one thing and one thing only: how to open a padlock whose combination is forgotten, lost or garbled.
It's a small paperback book that will make the job of opening a combination padlock pretty easy. It's simply called "Opening Combination Padlocks". 
You'll find Opening Combination Padlocks for $15.95 at

Padlock Shims

Padlock Shims