A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOCKPICKS.
Here at locksmith training merseyside we will show you the tools that will be important to you and the ones that will lie at the bottom of your toolbox unused.
The world famous credit card operating the door latch only this stuff works way better and can be used multiple times, comes in multiple cut to size sheets of flexible, low friction plastic.
Here at LOCKSMITH TRAINING MERSEYSIDE we give our trainees a basic locksmith training toolkit with every 2 and 3 day course done comprising of a wallet of mica, 3 Lever wire picks and tension wires, we show you how to make 5 lever curtain pick wires.
A traditional pickset. Tension wrenches, "twist-flex" tension wrench, offset diamond pick, ball pick, half-diamond pick, short hook, medium hook, saw (or "L") rake, Snake (or "C") rake, broken key remover, a mortise drill gauge and instructions, curtain turners, mortise key turners for 3 non curtain and 5 lever curtain mortise locks, and we make various other tools on the course. There is also a 4 hr DVD on locksmithing and a file of paperwork relating to the course you have done, which you can refer back to at a later date if needed. On the 3 day course we show you how to cut bump keys and how to use them along with springs and dampners which you get as part of the course.
We also show you which tools are well worth buying and are essential and which tools will be sat in your tool box and never get used, we all have them, the difference is i,ll tell you so you wont waste your money, ive already wasted my money for you.
The tension wrench,
Often called a torque wrench, is used to apply torque to the plug of a lock, in order to hold any picked pins in place. Once all pins are picked, the tension wrench is then used to turn the plug and open the lock. It is typically shaped like a letter "L", although the vertical part of the letter is elongated in comparison to the horizontal part.
Some tension wrenches, called feather touch wrenches, are coiled into a spring at the bend in the "L"; which helps the user apply constant torque. Some users; however, maintain that such wrenches reduce torque control and the feedback available to the user.
Other tension tools, especially those for use with cars and wafer locks resemble a pair of tweezers and allow the user to apply torque to both the top and the bottom of the lock. These would commonly be used with double sided wafer locks.
There is also prybar tension tools you can buy, these in my opinion are superb tension wrenches and give you loads of feedback as to what is happening in the lock.
Also, high tech tension tools exist which sit over the lock face allowing the user to see a display of the amount of torque applied. these are commonly known as circular tension wrenches. This aids with the process of feeling when a pin has set since the tension level will drop suddenly then spike again as the next pin sets.
The tension tool is just as important as other tools in the set, but is often neglected and is rarely represented in fiction. It is not possible to pick a pin/tumbler or wafer lock without a tension tool, even with the use of a pick gun.
Perhaps the most basic and common pick, this versatile pick is included in all kits and is mainly used for picking individual pins, but can also be used for raking and for wafer and disk locks. The half diamond is usually 0.1 to 0.5 inches long. Each of the ends of the triangular half diamond of this pick can be either steep or shallow in angle, depending on the need for picking without affecting neighboring pins, or raking as appropriate. A normal set would comprise around three half diamond picks and a double diamond pick.
The hook pick is similar to the half diamond pick, but has a hook shaped tip rather than a half diamond shape. The hook pick is sometimes referred to as a feeler or finger and is not used for raking. This is the most basic lock picking tool and is all that a professional will usually need if the lock is to be picked in the traditional sense rather than opened by raking or using a pick gun. A variety of different sized and shaped hooks will be available in a normal set.
The ball pick is similar to the half-diamond pick, except the end of the pick has a circular shape. This pick is commonly used to open wafer locks. Can also come in double ball sometimes called the snowman pick.
These picks, such as the common snake rake, are designed to rake pins by rapidly sliding the pick past all the pins, repeatedly, in order to bounce the pins until they reach the shear line. This method requires much less skill than picking pins individually, and generally works well on cheaper locks.
When the pins are excited they bounce all around the shear line and with the skilful application of a tension tool this is the easiest way to pick a lock. This is also how beginners start. Advanced rakes are available which are shaped to mimic various different pin height key positions and are considerably easier to use than traditional rakes. Such rakes are typically machined from a template of common key configurations. since not all permutations of pin heights for adjacent pins are possible given the process by which keys are manufactured.
The rarely used Slagel pick is mainly used for opening electronic locks. It is often made with small magnetic regions. The Slagel pick is named after James Slagel, a leading security technician for IBM. The Slagel pick works by selectively pulling internal parts of the lock to the correct positions, more often used and found in the usa than the uk.
The decoder pick is a key which has been adapted such that the height of its notches can be changed, either by screwing them into the blade base or by adjusting them from the handle while the key is in the lock. This will allow not only access to the lock but also a template for cutting a replacement key.
More often than not the simplest way ( with a lot of practise) to open the majority of pin locks is to insert a key (or variety of keys) which have been cut so that each peak of the key is equal and has been cut down to the lowest groove of the key. This key is then struck sharply with a hammer whilst applying torque. The force of the blow is carried down the length of the key and (operating as does a Newton's Cradle) will force the top pins only to jump above the shearline leaving the bottom pins in place. Some modern high security locks include bumping protection such as false setting pins, weaker springs mixed in with standard springs and impact absorbent foam.
The warded pick, also known as a skeleton key, is used for opening warded locks. It is generally made to conform to a generalized key shape relatively simpler than the actual key used to open the lock, this simpler shape allows for internal manipulations. This style of pick can also be used to rip the lock. This is where the pick is placed at the back of the lock and then pulled out in one sharp fast ripping action.
The keys for warded locks only require the end section which is the one which actually open the locks. The other parts are there to distinguish between different variation of their locks. i.e if you have a chest of drawers with a warded lock you can make a skeleton key for that type of warded lock by filing away all but the last one or two teeth or bittings on both sides of the blade. Additionally, a series of grooves on either side of the key's blade limit the type of lock the key can slide into. As the key slides into the lock through the keyway, the wards align with the grooves in the key's profile to allow or deny entry into the lock cylinder.
Often seen in movies and in the tool box of locksmiths, manual and electronic pick guns are a popular method used today for quick and easy ways of opening doors. The higher-end electric pick guns are usually made of aircraft aluminum and hard steel. The pick is operated by simply pressing a button that vibrates while the normal tension wrench is being used. A manual pick gun (or Snap gun) is used in a similar way but usually has a trigger that creates a movement which (like bump keys) operates on the same principle as Newton's cradle. It transfers sudden energy to the key pins which communicate this to the driver pins causing those pins only to jump, allowing the cylinder to turn freely for a brief moment, until the pin springs return the pins to their locking position. A pick gun is used in conjunction with a tension tool and the only skill required here is learning the timing.
Manual pick guns come in both up and down varieties and were patented in the 1920s making them a staple of the film noir and detective fiction generally.
To prevent picking of locks, numerous methods have been employed throughout history, in addition to locks which must be reset using a master key if they have been tampered with e.g. the Chubb detector lock.
Today, anti-picking methods include the use of side wards which obstruct the key way, and security pins. These are pins which are shaped like a spool, mushroom, or have serrations in them, with the effect that they feel as though they have set when in fact they have not. Overcoming these pins involves reverse picking.
Locksmith’s use a variety of tools for their work, and they range from different type of picks, to specific tools for specific jobs. Here is a list from Locksmith Training Merseyside, which feature some of the most common tools and a brief insight into what they do.
Short Hook: This pick is used to pick pins one at a time. It is thought of as a must have in the locksmith world, and locksmiths use the short hook to work out how much tension they need to apply, and to work out how the tumblers are configured.
Double Ball: Often used for wafer locks, it simply works by putting it in the lock with various amounts of tensions. Many locksmiths use one ball first, and if that doesn’t work they use two. Often referred to as the Snowman pick.
Half Diamond: This pick is often used with wafer and pin tumbler locks, and is held in high regard by the locksmith community, some of whom, use it as they would the Short Hook Pick. Like most picks, the Half Diamond is used to manipulate the pins of a lock, and locksmiths often know if it’s working by hearing or feeling a pin click. This pick, like the Short Hook, is an essential part of a locksmith’s tool kit.
Rake: The Rake is known to be ideal for picking some locks but is useless with others. Rather than the precision required with Short Hook or Diamond, these simply work by jiggling or raking in and out the lock till it opens.
C/Rake, Snake: Like the rake above, it requires a fair amount of jiggling to get it to work, but it also requires less skill than say the the Short Hook.
Long Hook: Is a bigger version of the Short Hook, and is used for bigger locks that require a longer tool to manipulate the tumblers.
Broken Key Extractor: No prizes for guessing what the purpose for this pick. The pick is often used in combination with the Half Diamond to extract keys, and can be used for some other locksmith functions, which we at locksmith training merseyside would show you as part of the course.
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