Locksmith Education, Guidance, and Reviews

October 9, 2009

Types of locks, and Picking them – I

In this blog at various times we mentioned about lock picking, and we also put up a couple of articles about lock picking tools. In case you missed it, there was a video about picking locks, and you can search for that in the archives – it is real exciting!

This two part series is a basic run down on how one can pick basic locks of different kinds.

By definition, lock picking is the process of manipulating the interiors of a lock without spoiling or breaking them. Even since locks were invented, lock picking has been around, and even the most complex of locks can be picked. Contrary to what people think, the best locksmiths can even pick the modern locking marvels – provided they have the right information, the right tools, and the right information.

Let’s start our lock picking sojourn with a simple dead bolt.

You need a thin flat piece of metal and a lock picking tool to pick a simple dead bolt. If you have a torsion tool which bends to 90 degrees, that should be fine. Else, take the thin piece of metal and bend it to 90 degrees. Now, insert it into the lowest part of the keyhole and rake over the lock pins in the locking system. Raking over them makes them a bit loose and easier to pick. Slide the tool into the bottom of the keyhole and turn it as if you were turning a key in the lock. Apply constant pressure on it and insert the pick tool into the top the keyhole. When you are applying pressure with the torque tool, use the pick tool on top to rake each of the pins of the deadbolt lock. When the pressure on each pin is right, you will notice the pins moving up to their right positions. Let each pin come to their correct position, and you will notice the lock pop open.

If you are wondering if it is truly that easy, it is! Just that you need to get a hang of the process. Applying the right kind of pressure on the torsion tool is the key here, and each pin needs to be pushed up just right, so it pops open. The right position of all the pins is known as ‘Sheer Alignment’ and once that is reached, the lock will pop open. With time, you will be able to open the deadbolt faster.

There are some kinds of bolts however, which have an added level of a lock inside, and for those you need to work extra hard. If you are on the inside of a home, you will naturally turn an additional knob on top to keep it safe, and that is the way to go! From the outside, when you need to crack the door open, and you find that there is an additional bolt lock inside, you will need to repeat the whole procedure once again with the other set too. Here is a video which will help you open the door easily.

Video courtesy – Monkey See


October 8, 2009

Lock Diagram

Filed under: Lock Picking,Locks — locksmithing @ 10:29 am
Tags: , , ,

When we mentioned about lock picking in one of our earlier articles, we used a few terms like striking plate and deadlock. A few people wrote in if we could get them a picture showing which part of the lock was which, and we said we’ll oblige.

Here is a clear lock diagram showing the different parts. Pay attention to this, and our next article will be about lock picking.


September 19, 2009

This looks seriously easy! Lockpicking at its best!

Like we promised you at the launch of this blog, we are always on the hunt to bring together the best information including videos on the lock making business, and that includes LockPicking. Here is a fabulous video we found on YouTube from the famed HowCast team.

Video Courtesy – HowCast

September 4, 2009

Lock Pick Guns

PG-20 We mentioned earlier about tools used by locksmiths to manually open locks. That ran to two parts and if you have not read them, here are Part – I and Part – II. We also wrote about Slim Jims and other uncommon tools used by locksmiths in general and you can find them from our archives or you can use the search box on this blog.

What we did not cover is the lock pick guns, and that is what we will be doing in this article.

Ever since lock pick guns were invented a couple of decades ago, the concept of lock picking has undergone a radical change. This has also led to locksmiths complicating locks so that they cannot be picked by every amateur with this gun. Actually, unlike what a lot of people think, just owning a lock pick gun will not make any person a lock picker. A lot of people walk in to stores and ask for automatic lock pick guns, buy the best ones by spending a couple hundred dollars, and when they come home and try it on the lock at home, they realize that the lock is not popping open!

So what are these contraptions, and why are they so popular?

The basic reason these were invented was to partly automate the process of picking locks. Though the guns are called automatic, they don’t crack open locks all by themselves. What they do instead, is use Physics laws of energy transfer to put pressure on the pins and cylinders inside the lock, and make it easy even for an amateur to open basic locks. To open the more complex locks an expert with considerable practice in using these guns is needed, but most of the experts anyway don’t need this machine to open locks!!

The original concept of lock pick guns was so they could be used by law enforcement authorities to break into a house, when needed, without the need for additional training on lock picking. As locks got more secure, the lock pick guns also got more complex, and today (as you can see from the picture above), there are multiple picks that go into a gun to help open different kinds of locks. In fact, the picture we put up (courtesy – Internet) is just a basic lock pick gun, and there are ones which are far more complex. The modern versions of lock pick guns are with electric motors. These electric lock pick guns are for use on the locks which need more pressure exerted – like the cylindrical cam locks, or other modern locking systems which don’t give out so easily. Since a manual lock pick can only exert so much pressure, electric ones have been invented. We’ll bring to you a separate article about that in a few days time.

The basic kind of lock pick gun is called the ‘snap’ lock pick gun, as the action when you pull the trigger actually a snap of the spring inside. This snap exerts considerable pressure on the locking drum or cylinder inside the lock, and force it to pop open. For different kinds of locks there are different kinds of picks which can be added onto the lock pick gun as extensions, and there are about 10 different kinds of picks available in the market. Between them, they can snap open most of the kinds of locks we see normally.

A lock pick gun usually comes with a user manual, and these manuals have detailed information on how to use these guns. Then there are a series of videos which are anyway available (and we will bring you the best of them here next week) on using these guns to crack open locks that are more advanced. A good locksmith will be able to use a lock pick gun and open even the most complicated lock within a few minutes. With a bit of practice, you also should be able to open the basic locks we use in our homes. Lock Pick guns are quite an innovation, and the only real danger is that once you get used to them you can’t use the manual lock picks again!

September 3, 2009

Disc Tumbler Cylinder Cam Lock – Diagram

Like we promised earlier, we have been bringing to you a series of technical pictures and diagrams, so that your knowledge of locksmithing is upgraded.

Here is a detailed diagram of the disc tumbler cylinder cam lock. We spoke a bit about picking that kind of a lock earlier, and we also mentioned the kind of tools which might be useful in that venture.

Pic Credit – Internet


September 2, 2009

Common (and some uncommon) tools used by locksmiths


As we mentioned in a couple of articles earlier, there are several tools used by locksmiths for a wide range of services that they provide to the community at large. While most of them are to do with the opening of locked cars and doors, there are some uses which are pretty surprising to even read!

If you have not read the earlier articles we’ve written about the tools used by locksmiths, you can do so here and here.

We also mentioned about the usage of a unique tool called a Slim Jim and if you’ve missed out on that, you can get updated here.

But that is not the entire range of tools used by modern locksmiths. Since the profession has gone hi-tech, there are a lot of tools used by them to open electronic tools, but we won’t go there in this article. That is for later. But what we’ll do in this article is run through some of the most unique tools used by the profession.

The pic we have here (courtesy – Internet) is of a common set of tools which can be obtained at any good hardware store – provided your state laws allow the possession of these tools. Some of the other tool sets are

  • JackKnife Picks
  • Tubular Lock Picks
  • Vehicle Entry Tools
  • Snap Guns, Electric Picks, and other automatic equipment


The Jackknife set is among the most popular ones in the recent times. Like the name suggests, it is a set of lock picking tools that fits into a small pocket knife styled holder. Actually, it is more of like a Swiss knife, which opens different lock picks in different angles and they all fold back in. Most of the common tools including the ones shown in the picture above are present in this innovation, and thanks to the ease of carrying, this happens to be one of the most sold over the counter items. Especially for amateur locksmiths and for people whose hobbies include picking locks for fun.

The next set of tools are the tubular lock picks, which are again a modern innovation. Since the invention of locks that are tubular in nature (the shape, that is), the traditional locks have gone down in sales. Most houses now feature advanced locks that come with a tubular frame and the pins inside are operated by keys which cannot be duplicated normally. To open those locks, there are tubular lock picks, and these picks are capable of working with the tubular locks with high spring pressures as well. These are available in 7-8 pin configurations.

Vehicle entry tools are some of the most popular lock picking sets sold over the counters, and most cars would have some sort of a tool – be it a normal wedge that goes into the beading to pop the door open, or a more advanced set of auto lock jigglers which are quite popular with experts. Since modern cars don’t open with sheets of metal or with plastic wedges, there are new kinds of door openers that have come into vogue. For instance, there is an inflatable car door wedge that fits into the gap between the window and the beading on the front door and can be inflated through a little balloon on one end. This leads to additional pressure exertion – and that too without damaging the locking rod or other parts. Then there is a more advanced navigator locksmith scope that is perfect for lockpicking experts. This scope, like the name suggests, comes with a viewer that shows the user the lock’s functions once it is inserted into the keyhole. This kind of an opener is especially useful in opening automatic locks, and since most of the new cars come with this kind of a locking system, these navigator tools are quite in demand.

We won’t talk here about the electric and electronic lock openers as that is a lot of articles by itself. But most of the people out there would know about the way these lock openers work – including the most popular snap gun lock pick.

In the next articles, we’ll go into each of these kinds of lock picking tools in detail, and also come up with videos that show how each can be used. Stay tuned.

September 1, 2009

Who is ‘Slim Jim’

180px-Slim_Jims One of the most heard references in lock picking, lock making, and from locksmiths is the term ‘Slim Jim’.

No, it is not a person, but a little piece of equipment which is more commonly known as ‘lockout tool’.

This is a specialty piece of equipment used in automobiles, and is also one of the most common ways in which you can get into your car if you got locked out. However, most of the recent models of cars have put in technology that renders the old slim jims obsolete.

Anyway, you would probably have used some kind of an improvised slim jim if you got locked out of your car. It is a known fact that by putting in a slim piece of metal between the beading and the window of your front door, you can jimmy your car lock and open it, gaining you access to the keys you left inside. That is precisely what a slim jim does, with a bit more ease. As you can see from the pic (credit – Wikipedia) above, there are different kinds of slim jims that can be purchased in the market. While some are the plain old sheets of steel, others are more complex and come with a small hook or file at the end that goes into your car door. This is so you can hook the lock rod and pull it if just the jim does not do the task.

It has been said that car locks can be damaged if you exert undue force onto the lock by the use of a jim, but it is not conclusive. Many people we know have a small piece of metal that they put under the hood or affix it into a tyre well, just for this emergency. Most of the old cars and station wagons pop up with a simple plastic scale, and that is how many car robberies have happened in the country. But you can’t refute the claim that this is a seriously useful piece of metal! Some of the most frustrating moments are when we forget the keys in the car or misplace them somewhere else, and the car is locked when we get to it. Especially if you are on a long tour, and if the second set of keys is in the drawing room of your home, you are done for! Having access to a country wide 24/7 locksmith is the best alternative, but if you can’t find someone in your phone book or locally at the city, you are in trouble! That is when having a slim jim becomes invaluable!

But like we said, modern cars don’t allow for slim jims to open doors, and they have an additional layer of security built into the door itself to ensure that a piece of metal does not slip in between the door beading and the window glass. Some cars even go one step ahead and cover the locking rod and lever with a piece of metal so that the jim can’t reach them! The only thing you can do is hope that you have an automobile locksmith somewhere nearby, or you can try calling your car manufacturer helpline and ask for help. Since most of the car dealerships help out customers who get locked out, you can expect some help, albeit in a while.

But the usage of slim jims has not reduced across the country. If you look at the tool kit of a professional locksmith, you are sure to find a few kinds of slim jims, so that any kind of a car can be opened. We still remember the day when we got locked out of our old SUV, and when we called our car manufacturer, the lady at the help desk simply asked us to find a thin piece of metal and insert it into the window. Imagine our surprise when the lock popped up!! It is actually a wonder that more car-jackings did not happen during that era!

Even today, most of the older cars (of say 5 years ago or so) can be opened with a slim jim. For a more recent model, you should call an automobile locksmith if you happen to get locked out!

August 31, 2009

How to Pick a Simple Lock – Video

Video Source www.wikihow.com
More DIY videos at 5min.com

August 30, 2009

Manual Lock Picking – II


Like we mentioned in Part – I of this article, there is more to lock picking than just going out with a hammer and a chisel and try to break open the lock! It is an art which requires the right tools and the right kind of practice.

Carrying on from where we left off in the earlier article, the torsion wrench is probably the most important lock picking tool of them all.

Shaped like the letter ‘L’ (you can see it at the left of the above picture), the torsion wrench is used to apply torsion on the cylinders of a lock. Also, you will know that today’s locks don’t come with single pins. There are multiple pins inside, and each of these pins has to be put in the right place in order to pick it. It is the torsion wrench which holds each pin in place when we go about adjusting the rest of the pins. This tool is also known as the Tension Wrench, but the actual purpose is to apply torsion on the pins. There is also an advanced version available, where there is a coiled spring at the end of the wrench (the tool is known as Feather Touch wrench). This spring ensures that the torsion is maintained on the lock pins so we can go about our job of opening the lock without worrying if the pins will slip back.

The next most versatile tool has to be the half diamond pick, which is fifth from left in the picture above. This is the most common pick of them all, and is used for picking individual pins. The half diamond is also the right tool for disk locks – which by the way are not all that easy to open.

The hook, the rake, and the warded picks are the next in line in the above pic, and they all have their uses.

Coming to our topic, manual lock picking is not just pushing the rake into the lock and sensing whether the pins move. That is because once the pick is out, the pins tumble back into position. This is why there is a special practice needed. We will bring you a few videos on lock picking during the next one week, and that will give you a better understanding. One thing that you should learn, however, is the general process of lock picking. Here is a run down.

  1. The torsion wrench should go in to the lower portion of the keyhole
  2. Twist the wrench in the direction of opening the lock and hold it
  3. Put in the pick into the upper part of the keyhole and feel for the pins
  4. Each pin will have its own position, and it is a process of trial and error before you hit on the right combination
  5. The most important pin is the one which is the most stubborn. You need to push it enough so it overcomes the tension exerted by its spring
  6. Continue with all pins till they don’t come back down; and sit in their opening positions
  7. Turn the cylinder with the tension wrench and your lock should open!

If it does not open, you need to go back with the pick and check whether all the pins are in position. It is not too difficult to find out – once you practice a bit.

Learning lock picking is not wrong! In fact, there are dozens of times in life when we lock ourselves out of the home, or when we lock an old suitcase and misplace the key. Happened with you? Each time something like that happens, we either decide to break open the lock, or call in a locksmith. If we know the basics of manual lock picking, we can just fiddle around a bit, and the lock should pop open in a few minutes time. Experts crack open locks in under a minute; but that is a different ball game altogether!

The tools we mentioned above – from the tension wrench to the set of picks should be easily available – provided your state permits the sale. Else, you should find them online, but be sure about the laws in your region before ordering them.

We will bring to you a few videos, and then a couple of articles on lock picking guns. We will also bring forth a few tips from the lock picking experts. Stay Tuned.

August 16, 2009

The Essential Tools Used by Locksmiths

lockpickset Locksmithing is known as the science and art of making and defeating locks. It is a trade that requires meticulous skill and mastery of tools. Traditional locksmithing is a combination of other skills such as metalworking, lock picking and even basic carpentry. Historically, lock smiths actually created the entire locks and keys through hours of painstaking work. However, the rise of mass production of locks and keys has made custom-designed locks a rarity.

Nowadays, parts swapping or like-for-like replacements are used to repair most locks. Fitting of keys to replace lost keys for homes or cars is also a common job performed by locksmiths. In addition, many locksmiths also specialize in installing high quality locks with improved locking mechanisms.

There are classic and essential tools that all locksmiths use to perform their job. A mainstay in a locksmith’s toolbox is the lock pick set. This set of specialized tools is used primarily for defeating locks if the original key is lost. A typical lock pick set consists of the following tools: manual picks, tension wrenches, key turners and lever picks.

Professional locksmiths may also use special destructive opening tools like special cylinder crackers and bell. Other special tools include grinders, cutting burrs and milling machines that come with grinding bits and discs. Another essential tool used by locksmiths is the traditional manual pick gun, which is operated by pulling a trigger.

Just as there are numerous types of keyways, there are also many tools that can be used to open locks. UPVC and Euro locks are easier to pick by using slim line pick sets that are narrower than standard versions and thus allowing better access to the pins inside the lock. If the lock has to be opened using destructive tools, the most common equipments used are special tools such as the bell with pulling screws. These tools are designed to crack the door lock cylinder. For doors, locksmiths commonly use a selection of wedges.

For car door locks, one of the most effective tools used by locksmiths is the air fighter pro. This consists of a bag that slides between the doorframe and inflates so that the locksmith can use the tools to open the locks. A tool used for older cars with upright door locks is the lasso tool.

In the United States, there are laws concerning the possession of lock pick sets and they differ from state to state. In most states, a lock smith must be licensed to own a lock pick set. However in most states, possession by laymen is legal since illegal possession must be coupled with felonious or malicious intent. Illegal possession of lock picks can be prosecuted as a felony under the category of possession of burglary tools.

August 14, 2009

The perils of being a Locksmith!

hands of a locksmith paul Being a locksmith is no ordinary job. There are perils that come with this line of work. In fact, there are dangers that can put both a locksmith and the people who need locksmith services at risk. For example, people who need the services of a locksmith should be more cautious especially with the rising prevalence of locksmith fraud. On the other hand, a locksmith is also at risk of being falsely accused and sued for damage that he did not do.

Being in the locksmithing profession is a choice that must be taken seriously and with pride, especially for locksmiths who want to excel in this field of work and gain the respect of his peers and the patronage of more clients. Like in any other career, there will be locksmiths who are trustworthy and professional and locksmiths who are not. There will be times that people will be forced to hire a locksmith with little time to check their background. If they happen to call on locksmith impostors and unscrupulous individuals, these clients may be in danger from scams and fraud. Worse, dealing with shady locksmiths can make them vulnerable to attack.

A locksmith with no integrity can put his client’s life and property in danger simply by doing a shabby job. Sometimes, there are locksmiths who are the perpetrators themselves and may use locksmithing as a front for theft and other crimes. In this regard, naturally skeptical clients may always view locksmiths with suspicion. People are warned to always verify and check if a locksmith is reliable and professional. Moreover, it is even advised that one should never hire a locksmith unless he has achieved a reputation as someone respected, recognized and trustworthy in this line of work.

To help dispel the notion that a certain lock smith could be non-trustworthy, there is locksmith education offered for anyone willing to pay for the course. In addition, there are also licenses and affiliations available for locksmiths to help bolster their trustworthiness. One of the perils of being a locksmith is being unfairly accused of a wrongdoing due to the delicate nature of the job. Since locksmiths deal with defeating locks that protect other people’s property, they may be prone to wrongful accusations stemming from problems that may arise due to the lock-picking job.

Therefore, locksmiths must also take precautions to protect themselves from these possibilities. The best thing to do is to have the necessary and proper licenses, certification and insurance. These will help protect locksmiths from the many perils that face people in this line of work. Locksmithing can be a profitable business with many perks and rewards as long as the proper precautions are taken both by the locksmith and the client.

Pic Credit – Hands of Locksmith Paul

July 30, 2009

Manual Lock Picking – I

lock When you search on Google for something like ‘Locksmithing’, you will get tens of thousands of links which will teach you how to pick locks! It is truly amazing to see how many people are really interested in picking locks, and they even make dozens of videos of themselves picking locks (we will bring to you the best public videos from that genre on this blog starting from next week)!

That is probably the single largest reason why people are interested in locksmithing. Now, don’t think that everyone who is interested in picking locks has a thieving streak in him. It is human tendency that we try and do something out of the ordinary to look cool, and picking locks is near the top of that list! There are hundreds of amateur lock picking clubs in the USA, and all over the world, and they meet regularly either online or offline and discuss strategies. Now, it is more of a hobby than anything else, as someone who is looking at picking locks for a profit will not come out into the public and showcase his talent to everyone, right?

Anyway, lock picking has been around for many many years – even since the invention of locking systems thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, and some of the earliest locksmiths were all in reality more of lock breakers than lock makers! It is like the Fosters Ad (which is embedded below) where the lady calls a locksmith because she is locked out of the house. In the earlier days, a majority of calls for locksmiths used to be for breaking locks, and if the lock has been made by a locksmith, he would be called again and again to pick the lock! With machines taking over the lock making process, today’s locksmiths are called more than even to pick locks – of homes, offices, and a lot of automobiles!

As we go along on this blog, we will bring to you simple ways through which you can ensure that you can pick a lock if needed – for your personal emergency use of course. We will focus on home locks and automobile locks, but the best option would be to keep a spare key somewhere common to everyone in the family – not necessarily next door.

Coming back to what we were talking about, manual lock picking is an art that requires a lot of patience and tremendous practice.

But the secret is that most of the locks don’t really need to be picked. We can get around locks using simple tools like a drill, bolt cutters, a bump key, or hydraulic jacks. Why unnecessarily render the lock useless if we can get around it, right? There are commonly a set of lock picking tools (here is a picture of a common lock picking tools set) which include two torsion wrenches and six blade-tools of different shapes and sizes. The picks which are commonly used in them are

  • Half Diamond Pick
  • Hook Pick
  • Rake Pick, and
  • Warded Pick

Depending on the kind of lock to be picked, these are used in combination, or separately. If you have been pursuing lock picking as a hobby, you will probably say that the easiest way to pick a lock is by using a Lock Pick Gun; but since we are talking about manual lock picking here, we will not go there (that is content for another article).

One word of caution – check the statutes of your region. In many states in the USA and several countries in the world, possession of lock picking tools is the equivalent of intention to steal and can be punished! In some more states, unless the intent is proven, carrying or possession of these tools does not make it a crime. Better be safe than sorry, right? Just check them out online.

Of all the tools used in manual lock picking, none is as important as the torsion wrench. Unless the wrench is used right, it is almost impossible to open a good lock. There might be a few cheap ones which don’t require tools at all, but we’re not worried about those!

There’s a lot more to talk about, but that is for tomorrow. Stay tuned, or bookmark this page so you can come back easily.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.