Each year there is more interest in locksports, or hobby lock picking, until recently, the hobby of lock picking in much of the world has been a solitary pursuit with enthusiasts practicing their skills alone – but that’s changing. At technology events, hacker conferences and with groups like locksport more folks are taking up this challenging sport and hobby.
This year MAKE has put together the only lock picking gift guide that we know, we hope you enjoy it – Special thanks to Austin Appel and Doug Farre (The president of Locksport International) who helped put this lockingpicking gift guide together!
Things you should look at if you want to learn about lockpicking…
Donâ€™t buy any type of â€œHOW TOâ€ guides on the internet, everything you need to know is available online. If you want to pick locks, you are going to need some lockpicks first!Â Since there are so many different sorts and types, letâ€™s give a few options:
Southern Specialties LRH-10
The basic set. Good handles, 3 tension tools, a variety of picks and rakes for the locks you might see on a daily basis, and all in a pouch to carry around in.
Peterson â€œThe City Litesâ€
Need a beginners set with a little better quality?Â This Peterson set will cost you 10 dollars more, but has more attractive handles along with a more comfortable grip.Â These custom tempered spring steel picks will last you longer than most other brands of picks.
Peterson â€œKen’s Pick Setâ€
Petersonâ€™s sets are considered by many to be the cream of the crop in picks by many locksmiths.Â This set is no exception.Â For the more advanced user, this set also includes a slender pick for complex keyways, Deep Cut Access Picks for tough bittings, serrated tension tools, and the same nice stuff that comes with â€œThe City Litesâ€ in your choice of color! The pick I included in here for this can easily be edited to do without the text and made more compactâ€¦in fact there might be a better pick around on a distributorâ€™s site.
Southern Specialties FPS-8
The perfect stocking stuffer!Â Not to be used as oneâ€™s main pickset, but great in a pinch, this jackknife set comes with a bunch of picks, makes it easy to switch them out, and is probably the only item of its kind that I would deem â€œusableâ€
Pick Gun …. PTG-5
This mechanical pick gun comes with 3 picking needles,2 straight and 1 offset.1 double end Tension tool. This unit is backed by a lifetime warrantee from the manufacturer.Â Already taken the time to learn the art of lockpicking?Â A pick gun is a great addition to accompany your tool bag, but if you have never picked a lock before then forget it.Â This tool is not easy to use, it takes lots of practice as well as a full understanding of how a lock operates.Â However, once you figure it out, locks will fly open before your eyes.Â
Tubular Lock Picks- 7 and 8 pin set
SouthOrd tubular lock picks are precision tools designed to easily open standard 7 and 8 pin tubular locks. Tubular lock picks feature two different types, one designed for seven-pinned locks and one for eight-pinned locks. Vending machines, coin-operated appliances (e.g. laundrymat washers and dryers,candy and gumball machines, soft drink and water vending machines) and jukeboxes are just a few of the devices that rely on tubular locks for added security. They’re more expensive than pin-tumblers and wafer-tumblers and generally not used for residences. If you’re shopping for tubular lock picks, it’s a good idea to purchase a set that gives you both a seven- and eight-pin pick, since you’re likely to find both types of locks in your line of work as a locksmith. Our advice is the same to those of ou that work in the vending industry as you’ll likely find machines with both 7 and 8 pinned tubular locks on your route.
Dieing to pick those intimidating tubular locks you see in elevators and on candy machines?Â These tools with help you do that! And after you get your tools and start practicing, you will begin to realize just how easy they really are.
High Output Electric Lock Pick -E500XT
High output electric pick features aircraft aluminum and hard steel construction. Electric picks require some skill to use, but we find them easier to use than lock pick snap guns or conventional lockpicks. The electric pick allows you to duplicate exact raking motion at many times per second. The gun rakes open pin and disc tumbler cylinders using a rapid up and down striking movement, which causes the top and bottom pins to separate, meeting the shearline.
Can anyone say no skill?Â This machine is expensive and takes all the fun out of lockpicking! It makes lots of noise, and it is also known for its unreliability (not in picking, but in its performance life).Â However, if you want a quick thrill, then why not?Â It can only pick simple pin tumbler locks.
Now you have some tools.Â We just need something to use them on!Â Sadly, using locks on the street or your front door is not a good idea.Â Get some cheap Kwikset locks (not the â€œSmartâ€ series for beginners!) from your local hardware store, disassemble it, and work your way up from 1 pin to a full complement.Â Master locks are decent beginner locks as well, though you canâ€™t disassemble them as such.Â Then, you can work your way up to some locks with higher tolerances such as Schlage, and locks with security pins.
6 Pinned Cut-Away Practice Lock Cylinder-RH
The CUT-AWAY practice cylinder has proven to be a boon to beginning locksmiths who wish to learn the time-honored skill of lock manipulation in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort. Cost is kept low by the use of high quality generic cylinders. For those needing greater picking challenges (locksmiths who desire to develop a greater skill level), please consider our ADVANCED PRACTICE CYLINDERS.
Having trouble understanding how the inside of a lock works? Buy one of these! Or make it yourself with files and a cylinder.Â Now you have some tools.Â We just need something to use them on!Â Sadly, using locks on the street or your front door is not a good idea.Â Get some cheap Kwikset locks (not the Ã¬SmartÃ® series for beginners!) from your local hardware store, disassemble it, and work your way up from 1 pin to a full complement.Â Master locks are decent beginner locks as well, though you canÃt disassemble them as such.Â Then, you can work your way up to some locks with higher tolerances such as Schlage, and locks with security pins.
Speaking of Master locks, many cheap padlocks can be shimmed right open.Â Thatâ€™s right â€“ high school gym-locker lock, I am looking at you.Â They are simple enough to make out of aluminum soda cans, but if you are the lazy sort or want something that will last more than 1 or 2 uses, you can nab some of these.
Ever picked a lock only to find out that you picked it the wrong way?Â Well, that is what this lovely device is for.Â Plug spinners turn the plug back the other way so fast, that the pins donâ€™t have time to settle back into their resting positions, saving you the trouble of picking the lock again.
Many hobbyists choose to experiment with their own creations.Â These last 5 are aimed at those who like to make their own tools. (H means Hobbiest)
Always a necessity when working with materials â€“ especially metal.
Often, this stuff can be scrounged up for free.Â The locksport hobbyistâ€™s favorite materials are usually street sweeper bristles (can be found on streets frequented by sweepers), car windshield wiper blades (look in your nearest autocenterâ€™s dumpster or just ask), or hacksaw blades.Â If you have the burning urge to spend some money, McMaster-Carr has some decent rolls of various types of steel for cheap.
Powerful and stable, this can take care of both shaping your metal into pick-like shapes and helping to polish the picks afterward.Â Pick templates can be found all over the internet.Â Dremels can also perform this job, but one needs a much steadier hand to use these. Maybe a cheap one from Harbor Freight here?
Files are used for making your own cutaways of locks, impressioning key blanks, and smoothing out your picks to your desired shape!
Varying and increasing grits of sandpaper are great for making your picks smooth and shiny.Â Even the commercially sold picks could use a bit of a sand-down.Â This makes your picks glide smoothly in and out of the lock, as well as taking it a bit easier on the (typically brass) pins in the lock.