How To Crack a 3 Wheel Combination Lock

We’re not condoning illegal activity - let’s make that very clear. The purpose of this article isn’t to allow you access to your friend’s luggage, or your work rival’s office safe.

If you successfully learn how to pick a lock, make sure that you use your powers for good. We’re trusting you with this information. 

The thing about 3 wheel combination locks is that they’re incredibly useful … until they’re not. If you’ve forgotten the combination to your lock or can’t find the piece of paper reading the code that someone trusted you with, you might need to know how to crack the lock. 

combination padlock on fence

3 wheel combination locks use one dial that can be turned both left and right to input the combination. There are three discs that need to be aligned perfectly to allow you access to what you’re trying to open. 

These locks are generally considered incredibly safe, but every lock can be cracked! 3 wheel combination locks come in different shapes and sizes, so we’ll be looking at how to crack two types today. 

Cracking a combination lock with a singular dial

This method is to crack a 3 wheel combination lock that has a large dial on the front of it. It looks like a dial that you’d find on a safe with a metal lock looping above it. These are very common locks and they can be rather bulky. 

For this method, you’ll need a soda can, a pencil, and some scissors - that’s it! Were you expecting us to tell you that you’d need to purchase a high-tech lock picking set?

Unfortunately, you won’t need to carry around a briefcase full of magnets and metal tools like they show in the movies. Simply enjoy a can of pop and get to work. 

The main premise of the soda can method is that you’ll need to cut out a piece of the aluminum and jiggle it inside of the lock.

The size of the piece of metal that you cut is quite important, so it’s important to get that right straight away.  

The size is right

First thing’s first, cut a rectangle out of the side of the can with your scissors. You’ll be cutting this down to size so make sure that it’s not too small.

Lie the metal down and place your pinky finger at one end, using the pencil to make a line down the other edge where your pinky stops. 

Place your pinky on the other side of this pencil line and make another line. Cut down this line so that you’re left with a piece of aluminum that is the width of two of your pinky fingers.

Turn the aluminum around and do the same thing again, now for the length of the piece of metal. 

You’re now left with a square of aluminum that has the same length and width of two of your pinky fingers. 

Creating the Lock Cracking Shape

Find the middle of one of the edges on your square piece of aluminum. Cut from this point upwards and diagonally to over the halfway point.

Repeat on the other side so that you have a pointed middle segment. Cut off the outer segments so that you’re left with a T shape with a pointed end. 

Fold the shape down the middle. The shape should look identical on each side, so folding it will make it look like half a T shape.

Open it back up so that it looks like the original shape with an indent down the middle. Cut a small piece of the pointed end off so that it’s not as sharp. 

Cracking the Lock!

You should know which side of the lock normally pops open when it’s unlocked. However, if you don’t know this information, try the left side.

This is the most common side for locks to pop up, so it’s a good starting point if you don’t know your lock that well. 

Take your lock cracking device and wrap it around the left side of the lock. The fold will come in handy here as it will naturally follow the cylindrical shape.

Push the once pointed end of the T into the lock. Keep pushing the device while simultaneously pulling at the lock. 

It shouldn’t take too long for the lock to pop open with minimal effort. You might need to find the perfect position for the lock cracking device, so keep trying until you find the sweet spot. 

What about a lock with the wheels exposed on the outside?

These locks are smaller than the locks we just looked at, and they are used for luggage or small lockers. They have a square locking chamber with three wheels on one side.

These wheels are numbered and need to have the correct combination lined up to allow the lock to open. 

They’re much easier to pick than the combination locks that we looked at above.

All you need to do is pull the looped metal out of the lock and keep the tension as tight as possible throughout the entire process. Now you need to turn each wheel until you feel them naturally lock into place. 

If you cannot feel this, you might have more luck trying to hear them lock into place. Hold the lock up to your ear and turn one of the wheels until you hear a sound that is not like the rest. Continue this for all three of the locks and the metal loop should pop open. 


Cracking 3 wheel combination locks is quite simple once you’ve had some practice at it. Some require tools and some don’t, but you won’t need to break the bank to crack your lock.

You might even find that you already have the supplies waiting to go out in the trash! 

Combination locks are notorious for getting stuck and not allowing the owner in because the wheels need to be lined up perfectly.

So, it’s very beneficial to remember how to crack a 3 wheel combination lock. 

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