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How to Open an Older Safe With a Stethoscope

Stethoscope bells increase sound by amplifying vibrations.
stethoscope image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com

Collecting antique safes can be a delightful and intriguing hobby. Many antique safes date as far back as the 1800s. You may also find an added hidden treasure if your safe has not been recently opened. The only roadblock to enjoying your safe may be the lock. The combination is often lost as the safe is passed from owner to owner. If you purchase an antique safe that has a combination lock, it is possible to figure out the combination using a stethoscope. The stethoscope can help you detect the sounds of the lock tumblers falling into the correct place.

Insert the stethoscope ear pieces into your ears. The ends of the stethoscope should be slightly bent forward to follow the natural curve of the ear canal.

Place the bell of the stethoscope on the door of the safe near the combination mechanism.

Turn the dial to the right slowly until you hear the lock click. This represents the first number of the combination.

Turn the dial to the left slowly until you hear the lock click. This represents the second number of the combination.

Turn the dial back to the left until the lock stops moving. This represents the last number in the combination.

Pull down on the handle to open the door of the safe.


  • This method only works on antique safes; modern locks use a different locking mechanism.
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