We’ve all had practical jokes played on us, and when we want to get back at someone and repay them with a practical joke of our own, the good ole’ penny-locking a door – or pennying up a door, as some people call it – is a timeless one that everyone appreciates. Whether the victim is a family member or a friend, this is a funny practical joke indeed, and it is harmless as well.

What Is Penny-Locking a Door?

In simple terms, it means jamming pennies between the door and the hinge from the outside of the door to temporarily lock it. When pennies are jammed into the door this way, people cannot open it from the inside, and as you can imagine, this is a big pain-in-the-butt to most recipients of this joke.

If you’d like to try this joke yourself, keep in mind that it only works with certain door jams. This means that you have to inspect a door before you decide to enter into this penny-locking practical joke adventure, because you certainly don’t want to bring a bunch of pennies to a door then find out it won’t work!

The best part about this practical joke is that, provided the door jam is the right one and you know what you’re doing, it can be a lot of fun for both the joker and the recipient of the joke. In the worst-case scenario, the person inside of the door will have no choice but to remove the door from its hinges to open the door and step outside of it.

Steps to Locking a Door with Pennies

  1. The first thing you need to do if you want to play this joke on somebody is to take a good look at the door jam. If it has a door frame with a lip that extends over the door, it might be hard to place the pennies between the door and the jam. If there is no lip, you can get your pennies ready because this practical joke is bound to work. One hint before we go any further: many office buildings have doors with lips extending over the door, so you might not be able to execute this joke if you’re at work.
  2. Next, you can go ahead and get your pennies ready. Depending on the size of the door and the amount of space in between the door and the jam – which shouldn’t be that much – you’ll need anywhere from 5 to 10 pennies per door. Have a few extra on hand just in case you’re wrong.
  3. Once you get your pennies ready, you’ll need to wrap them. You do this for several reasons. First, wrapping the pennies makes it easier to slide them into the door space because they’ll go in there much faster and quicker. Second, it keeps the pennies in there longer because it is more difficult for them to move around and fall out of the space when they’re wrapped.
    What do you use to wrap the pennies? You can use just about anything, but most people use tape, and it can be basic adhesive tape, duct tape, masking tape, and even painter’s tape. Wrap them all the way around and make sure there are no loose edges. You want them to be as thick and as smooth as possible.
  4. Start sliding the pennies into the slot between the door and the frame. Some people do this on the side with the hinges, while others do it with the space on the doorknob side. If you like, you can even put pennies on both of these sides. Just to be on the safe side, aim to put an equal number of pennies on both sides just to make sure one isn’t looser than the other.
    Also, you should keep sliding pennies in until you can’t slide in anymore. If you feel a little looseness, it means you still have room to add another penny, so go ahead and do so. When this happens, you’ll create some friction between the door and the pennies; so much friction, in fact, that the door will refuse to open.
  5. Finally, knock on the door to get the attention of the person inside, then wait for him to come to the door and try to open it. Once again, if the job is done correctly he’ll likely have to take the door off of the hinges to get it open, and since you’re the one who played the joke on him in the first place, you may want to stick around to help him put the door back on the hinges!

What Can Go Wrong

Naturally, things can go wrong with this joke. If the door isn’t well-made or if the frame is loose, you won’t be able to make the joke work like it should. Of course, there will be no harm, either, so if you’re looking to use this on your next practical joke victim, you might as well go ahead and give it a shot because you have nothing to lose but a few moments of your time!


Playing a practical joke on someone is always a fun thing to do. The penny-locking trick is simple and it takes nothing but a few pennies to make it a success. You can play this trick on a college roommate, a pesky brother or sister, or even a friend or family member who is always playing a joke on you and everyone else.

Becoming a ninja joker is easy with this practical joke, which is why it is used so often as a revenge joke on someone. Following each step exactly as described is important but at the same time, this is also a simple joke that anyone can do. This practical joke, in fact, is the perfect prank to play on college campuses, especially if you belong to a sorority or fraternity, in part because it doesn’t hurt anyone and it is practically harmless.

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