Ask anyone on the street what a Locksmith does for a living and chances are they will say, “pick locks”. There’s a good chance you yourself at some time have had to call a Locksmith to open a locked business or a door in your home. It is the basic, fundamental skill attributed to the profession, followed closely by car opening, safe opening (which is actually a sub-specialty not practiced by all Locksmiths) and “changing locks”, otherwise and more correctly known as rekeying.
But like any other skill, lock picking is a learned ability. You may be born with a feel for it, but you still have to learn the proper techniques. Various sources of this knowledge exist, which is a vast improvement over years past when a student Locksmith had no choice but to attend a school or seek employment as an apprentice. Now days, there are countless books available and the Internet now provides yet another source of information. Locksmith students can now learn the fundamentals from a hundred sources without even talking to a Locksmith, or attending a school.
But what about practice?
In years past, an aspiring Locksmith had to go around picking locks in his or her home or business, or those of friends and relatives who might give their permission. Purchasing locks on which to practice is expensive and not particularly effective since many packaged locks sport hopelessly easy combinations to pick. Up until a few years ago, the idea of lock picking practice was hit and miss. You’ll find that many established Locksmiths earned their current level of lock picking skill only through years of on the job practice. This still works, of course, but it can take years to acquire a high level of competence going that route.
This article will hopefully reveal to beginning Locksmiths, students of Locksmithing, and hobbyists the comparatively new resources open to them that make the acquisition of lock picking skill easier and faster to attain.
Here are a few guidelines for these aspiring lock picking professionals:
Acquire at least two or three high quality Lock Picking Practice Locks on which to practice. The good ones are residential lock rekey, so you control the level of difficulty.
Lock Picking Practice Kits, also called Starter Kits, are available at very reasonable prices. These complete kits include, as a rule, several practice locks, a sturdy stand or holding fixture, and a small lock pick set.
The use of a “cut-away” practice lock is recommended for the beginner, particularly if he has no understanding of how pin tumbler locks work. This is a practice lock that has been milled in such a way as to reveal much of the inner workings, while retaining functionality as a lock that can be used for practice. These, too, are often rekeyable.
Begin with a 2- or 3-pinned practice lock if you have had no prior lock picking experience. You will master this beginner’s lock in short order, but it will help you develop “feel” that will be of great value when you move up to more difficult combinations.
Even after you’ve succeeded in picking 5-pin locks with regularity, do not stop practicing. Instead, change the combinations frequently and strive for highly challenging pinnings.
Move up to a 6-pin Practice Lock when 5-pin combinations cease to challenge you. Many if not most commercial locks use 6-pin cylinders, and many include spool drivers that can render them almost un-pickable. Practice Locks with spool drivers are available from several sources online.
If you are serious about becoming a working Locksmith, this is one skill you must acquire. Nothing gives a customer more faith in a Locksmith’s ability than to see him or her successfully pick a lock in a matter of minutes, and nothing gives a Locksmith more self confidence than being able to do so when called upon.