How to Open a Soda Machine Without a Key?

Key Takeaways:

  • Tubular lock picking can be used to open soda machines by manipulating the lock’s internal mechanism.
  • Ballpoint pens can be modified into lock picking tools to open tubular locks on soda machines.
  • As a last resort, drilling into the lock mechanism can provide manual access to release the lock.
  • These techniques should only be used for educational purposes, not for illegal activities.
  • Alternatives like contacting the owner or using coins/cards should be tried before attempting to open a machine.


Opening a soda vending machine without the proper key may seem impossible to the average person. Secured with tubular or pin tumbler locks, the internal mechanisms of these machines are designed to only release with the matching key. However, various lock picking techniques can be employed to open them without causing permanent damage. This article will provide a comprehensive evaluation of methods for accessing soda machines without a proper key.

Understanding how to open locked soda machines without damaging them has educational value for learning about lockpicking skills and mechanics. However, these techniques should never be used for illegal purposes, such as stealing soda or vandalizing property. The content provided here is for informational purposes only. Those with no right to access a machine should always first attempt to contact the owner or operator to obtain a replacement key.

By the end of this article, readers will understand the feasibility and techniques for non-destructively opening soda vending machines without a provided key. The methodologies covered range from simple DIY lockpicking to drilling last resort options. While not promoting illegal activities, this information can expand technical knowledge of locks, mechanics, and problem solving.

Overview of Soda Machine Lock Types

Most soda machines utilize either tubular locks or pin tumbler locks to control access to the internal storage and dispensing mechanisms. Tubular models contain a cylindrical keyed plug with spring-loaded pin tumblers that must align to a specific height in order to rotate. Pin tumblers work similarly but with pins of varying lengths that must align at the shear line. These locks are installed through pre-drilled holes and connected to the release mechanism.

Understanding the type of lock is key to choosing the appropriate non-key entry technique. Visually inspecting the lock and keyhole shape provides clues about the model. Tubular locks have a round, smooth keyhole while pin tumblers often have jagged edges from varied pin heights. Most vending machines have tubular locks as they are simpler and more cost effective.

How to Open Tubular Locks on Soda Machines?

Tubular locks are most easily opened using a tubular lock pick, also called a tubular lock pick gun. These devices are designed to open tubular models by manipulating the internal pin lengths. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Insert the pick into the tubular lock, applying gentle pressure.
  • While maintaining inward pressure, slowly rotate the pick clockwise as if turning a key.
  • After rotating approximately 90 degrees, the pick will make contact with the release cam inside the lock and pressure will increase.
  • Continue applying steady clockwise rotation and pressure until the lock opens with a click.
  • Remove the tubular pick and the soda machine should now open without the key.

With practice, most tubular locks can be opened in under a minute using this method. No permanent modification to the lock mechanism occurs. Specialized tubular lock pick guns can be purchased online or a DIY version can be created from an altered windshield wiper blade. The key is applying gentle, rotational pressure while mimicking the unlocking motion.

Using a Ballpoint Pen to Pick Tubular Locks

If lacking a tubular lock pick, a simple ballpoint pen can also be rigged to open most machines. This rudimentary lockpicking technique requires carefully modifying the pen and finesse manipulating the tumblers. Follow these instructions:

  • Disassemble a ballpoint pen and remove the ink tube portion, leaving just the hollow plastic casing.
  • Cut off the end of the pen casing at an angled slope to create an inserting edge.
  • Make 4 small vertical cuts down the end sloped edge to create ridges that will grab the lock tumblers.
  • Insert the modified pen end into the tubular keyhole and apply light pressure.
  • Gently wiggle in circular and up-down motions to push and align the tumblers to the unlock position.
  • Keep tension outward while rotating the pen to unlock and open the soda machine.

The notches cut into the pen mimic the key’s ridges and are manipulated to raise/lower each pin tumbler. With some skill, the makeshift pen pick can successfully open the lock. It may take some trial and error to get the feel.

Lockpicking Legality and Ethics

While convenient for gaining entry, manual lockpicking also carries ethical and legal considerations. Possessing lockpicks in some regions can be illegal depending on intended use. Additionally, the act of non-destructively bypassing a lock without authorization may constitute unethical or criminal trespass. Those exploring lockpicking should research local laws and only practice on their own locks or with permission. Use wisdom and restraint to avoid causing harm.

Drilling as a Last Resort Soda Machine Entry

If lockpicking efforts fail or specialized tools are unavailable, drilling into the tubular lock mechanism can provide access, albeit destructively. This method should only be considered as an absolute last resort, as it ruins the lock and requires replacement. To drill open a soda machine lock:

  • Obtain an electric drill with a metal drill bit slightly larger than the lock’s diameter. Variable speed is best.
  • Carefully mark and stabilize the drill site centered on the lock hole.
  • Set the drill to low speed and gently begin applying pressure to grind through the outer and inner layers.
  • Periodically pause to clear metal shavings and prevent overheating.
  • Once the hole penetrates the lock mechanism, use a screwdriver to manually push the tumblers into unlock position.
  • With the tumblers aligned by the screwdriver tension, the lock rotates open even without a key.
  • Replace the damaged lock mechanism with an identical new one to restore security.

Drilling should be slow and precise to avoid damaging internal components beyond the lock. Patience and steady pressure are vital. With the lock bypassed, the soda machine can then be opened. But the compromised security necessitates replacing the destroyed lock.

Legal and Ethical Considerations of Lockpicking

While this article aims to educate about bypassing soda machine locks, such knowledge also comes with ethical and legal responsibilities. Lockpicking without ownership of the machine constitutes trespass and theft. Never tamper with or break into a machine that is not your own. Instead, always first attempt to contact the operator or property owner to resolve key issues. Respect others’ ownership and consent. If exploring lockpicking, do so only on your own devices or with explicit permission. While fascinating to learn, unethical application of these skills may carry serious consequences. Act wisely.


Opening soda vending machines without a provided key leverages clever lockpicking techniques targeting the built-in tubular or pin tumbler locks. Careful use of lock pick guns, improvised tools, and drilling can bypass the security measures without permanent damage. This overview of methods aims to educate about lock mechanics, advance technical knowledge, and promote problem solving. However, these techniques require discretion and should never be employed illegally or unethically without consent. Responsible understanding of lockpicking better equips solutions for lost key situations. Yet always explore such technical skills with wisdom and restraint to avoid harm.


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