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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

How To Open A Locked Diary

by Ralph June 20, 2022

Diaries and journals are very important and intimate items, and the locks we put on them are intended to maintain a certain level of privacy. But when you lose your diary key or combination, the lock needs to be opened. But what can you do to open your locked dairy?

Let’s look into how to open a diary lock without a key and how to open a diary combination lock from the perspective of a professional locksmith company. And we promise it will not require a tremendous amount of training or high-end tools. The processes can be quite simple in most cases.

To understand how to open a locked diary, familiarize yourself with the full breath of relevant information:


How secure are diary locks?

Diary locks are designed for privacy rather than security. Do not buy into the illusion of security offered by diary locks. If anyone wants to know how to open a locked diary, they can figure it out. Yes, all locks can be picked, but they cannot all be picked by the average person with no prior experience.

Is it easy to pick open a diary lock?

With only minor instruction, almost all diary locks can be picked by novices. The only unpickable locks you are likely to encounter are broken locks. But even if you are not able to use a lock pick, you can still look into how to open a diary lock without a key via destructive entry.

Can you put a better lock on a diary?

If a lock is built into the journal or diary, you cannot change that lock. But if the book has a hasp for a padlock, as long as the shackle of a new padlock fits, you can use it. However, you should not use one of the best padlocks of all time because someone can rip or cut into the book.

Should you break the lock to open a diary?

How to open a locked diary should be relatively easy and straightforward, but you may also run into issues with the non-destructive methods. For example, removing a broken padlock will almost always require you to break the lock further into a state of openness.

How do you open a broken diary lock?

If you are using the proper key or combination for your journal, you will be limited in the effective methods of how to open a diary lock without a key. Start by using a bit of door lock lubricant to get the lock working a bit easier, and if this does not work, break the lock open.

Will opening a diary lock without a key harm the book?

As long as you can open the lock with lock picks or a bypass, neither the lock nor the diary will be harmed. If you are cutting off a padlock, then only the lock will be damaged. But when the lock is built into the journal, breaking it will damage the book.

How Diary Locks Work

How to open a locked diary without a key can be so simple that you don’t need to know what you are doing, but when something goes wrong, it takes a deeper knowledge to troubleshoot the process. For example, if a padlock won’t open, knowing how the lock works gives you a better idea of the opening methods that may still work with limited functionality.

Diary locks come in a variety of styles, but most keyed padlocks use a simplified warded style of locking mechanism, not unlike handcuff locks. There is a mechanism inside the lock body that just needs rotation pressure applied to it to pop open the lock.

If you are looking for how to open a diary combination lock, it is important to understand that there are two main combo locks. One is the standard locker lock, which has one dial that you rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. But the combination locks most diaries use have 3 to 4 wheels.

A multi-wheel combination lock will have a gate on each wheel, which is a crescent cut. When all of these cuts align, it forms a trough for a bar to fall into. With this bar in position, the lock can open. With many multi-wheel locks found on diaries, you can see these gates on the side of each wheel.

Tools To Open A Diary Lock

How to open a locked diary without a key or combination requires the right tools. Luckily, the tools that will open your average diary lock are not very exotic. And even if you are using something as specialized as lock picks, they should never have to be from the best lock picking brands.

The various tools you can make use of when you are looking at how to open a journal lock without a key include:

1. Old Keys

Almost every keyed diary padlock works with the same style of warded key. This means that each key is essentially a skeleton key for this group of locks. If you have a key from an old lock, it should still open this new lock.

2. Bobby Pins

A standard bobby pin has a U-bend on one end and two points on the other. That bent end without any alterations can open a locked diary that uses a basic small warded diary lock.

3. Paper Clips

A paper clip must be shaped to approximate the U-bend of a bobby pin. The bend has to be slender enough to fit into the keyway and bulbous enough to manipulate the lock’s actuator.

4. Shims

A shim can be used for low-security padlocks or to decode multi-wheel locks. The size of the shim must fit either between the shackle and lock body or between the lock body and the wheel.

5. Lock Picks

If your diary lock uses something like a pin tumbler system, you may need regular lock picks. When it comes to how to open a diary lock without a key, the best lock pick tools are going to be a rake and a tension wrench which can be made out of paper clips if necessary. They may need to be on the smaller side to accommodate the size of diary padlocks.

6. Mini Bolt Cutters

With small leverage-based cutting implements, you can open almost any locked diary. As long as there is metal in the way of getting the dairy open, it can be cut. Usually, rather easily.

How To Open A Diary Lock Without The Key

The fastest way to open a locked dairy is to take your bobby pin or bent paper clip and do the following:

  1. Insert the bent end of the tool into the keyway.
  2. Move the tool as far back into the lock as possible.
  3. Rotate the tool clockwise.
  4. If there is no effect, rotate counterclockwise.
  5. If the lock does not open, readjust and try the steps again.

The standard keyed diary lock’s warded profile is the same throughout various diaries. The key is simple and repeatedly used, so how to open a diary lock without the key is similar to unlocking handcuffs with a bobby pin. However, some people will use a more secure keyed padlock.

If you have a more complicated padlock, you will have to look into how to pick locks. You can use the method of raking vs single pin picking (which is more difficult). If this is still too difficult, you can cut the lock with small bolt cutters on one or both sides of the shackle, depending on whether or not you can cut the side that releases from the lock body.

How To Open A Diary Combination Lock

If a diary uses a combination lock, it is almost always a multi-wheel combination lock. How to open a diary combination lock is essentially the same as decoding a suitcase lock, as these low-security products have very standard flaws. Because it is not usually possible to change lock combinations, decoding is the only way to salvage the lock.

For diary locks, you may have combination locks where the true gates are visible on a particular number. A true gate is going to be visually distinct (if visible) from the false gates on other numbers. The visual distinction is usually a cut or groove not present on the false gates.

You can find visible true gates with a simple process:

  1. Look at either side of each wheel for visible distinctions.
  2. Rotate one wheel.
  3. Compare visible differences between the rotating number and stationary numbers. 

If you can identify these markers on each of the wheels, how to open a diary combination lock can be achieved in the following way:

  1. Move each wheel to the number with a visibly determined true gate.
  2. Move all wheels down by a single number.
  3. Try to open the lock.
  4. Continue moving all wheels down by a single number.
  5. The lock will open once the correct sequence is set.

If you cannot see any markers on the side of the wheels, you can use a shim that can slide between the wheel and the lock body. However, it is much more difficult to feel for the gates if you have no experience with this. Essentially, you can feel it, or you can’t.

Final Thoughts

After you familiarize yourself with the basic types of diary locks, you need to take an inventory of the tools required to open these locks. And finally, it is time to learn how to open a locked diary. But do you know how to open a diary combination lock or how to open a diary lock without the key?

experience with lock picking or decoding. These are great practice locks to understand the simplified principles of lock bypasses. If you have any other questions or want to share your experience and insight, please let us know in the comment section below!

Category: How To's, Lock Picking

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