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TUCoPS :: Physical Security :: lp-too~1.htm

(Accessory file for The Hackers Guide to Lockpicking)
Lock-Picking Page: Tools


I started picking locks using a small screwdriver and a safety pin. The screwdriver can be used as a tension wrench, and the safety pin is used like a "hook" pick. The last half inch of the screwdriver's tip was bent at a 45 degree angle so as to allow easy entry for the pick (bent safety pin). Do not heat the screwdriver tip to bend it, as this will destroy its temper. Use a vise and hammer to do the job. Bend slowly by using firm and short taps of the hammer, otherwise you may break and weaken the shaft. The safety pin should be about one and a half inches long and bent in the same way.

With the small screwdriver as a tension wrench, you can use more of a turning or twisting movement than with a regular tension wrench so you will generally need less direct force when using it. As I mentioned earlier, with practice you will develop the feeling for the right amount of tension on a cylinder. If the safety pin bends after a short time, use the keyway of the lock you are picking to bend it back into shape. Even after several times of bending, it should still be useful. Keep a few spares handy, though. File the tip of the safety pin flat in relationship to the bottom of the pins in the lock. Smooth any sharp edges so that you won't impale yourself. Also, if the tip is smooth, the pick will not get hung up on the pins while picking the lock.

Granted these are not the best tools for the job, but they do work. If you learn to use your junk box as a rich source of equipment, then with your experience real lock picks will give you magic fingers. Also, you'll have the advantage of being able to improvise should you be without the real things (which are illegal to carry on your person in most parts of the country).

This is my set.

Lock picks are difficult to get. I received my first set when I became a locksmith apprentice. All of my subse- quent sets I made from stainless steel steak knives with a grinder and cut-off wheel. They are much more durable than the commercial picks. If you do make your own, make certain that the steel is quenched after every 3 seconds of grinding-do not allow the pick to get hot to the point of blue discoloration.

I'm afraid he's wrong on that first part... I got my first set sending $11.95 to a security catalog... and every security catalog sells them.

A diamond pick is the standard pick I use on most all pin and wafer locks. A small diamond pick is used for small pin tumbler locks such as small Master padlocks, cabinet file locks, etc. The tubular cylinder lock pick, we will discuss later. The double-ended, single-pronged tension wrench is used with the diamond pick. It features double usage; a small end for small cylinders and a large end for the larger cylinders. A special tension wrench is used for double-wafer cylinder locks with an end with two prongs on one end and tubular cylinder locks with the single prong on the other end. We will discuss tubular cylinder and double-wafer locks later as well. The steel should be .030 inches to .035 inches thick for the picks and .045 inches to .050 inches thick for the first tension wrench mentioned above. The second tension wrench should be .062 inches square (.062 inches x .062 inches) on the tubular cylinder side (one pronged end), and .045 inches thick on the double-wafer end (two-pronged end). You can accomplish this by starting out with .045 inches in thickness. The two-pronged end should be bent carefully in a vise at a 30 degree angle. This allows easy entry for the pick on double-wafer locks.

Among the more common tools used by professionals around the world is the rake pick. The rake pick is used to "rake" the tumblers into place by sliding it in and out across the tumblers. I seldom use the rake pick because it is not highly effective and I consider it a sloppy excuse for a lock pick. I've seen the rake pick work on some difficult locks, but you can rake with a diamond pick and get the same results. I prefer the diamond pick for most tumbler locks simply because it is easier to get in and out of locks-it slides across the tumblers with little or no trouble.

A ball pick is used for picking double-wafer cylinder locks, though I never carry one; I use a large diamond pick and reverse it when picking these locks. This means I have one less pick to carry and lose.

A double-ball pick is used like a rake on double-wafer locks in conjunction with a tension wrench (two-pronged end).

A hook pick is used to open lever tumbler locks, though again, I use a diamond pick with a hooking action when possible. There are various sizes of hooks but they all have the same basic job-to catch the movable levers that unlock lever locks.

There are also various sizes of tension wrenches. They are usually made from spring steel. The standard tension wrench is used for pin and wafer locks. A special tension wrench is called a Feather Touch, and it is used for high- security mushroom and spool pin tumbler locks. Its delicate spring-loaded action allows the pick to bypass the tendencies of these pins to stick. A homemade version of the Feather Touch can be made from a medium-light duty steel spring.

As to getting lock picks for your own use, you cannot go down to your local hardware store and buy them. I could supply you with some sources or wholesalers, but I do believe it is illegal for them to sell to individuals. Your best bet would be to find a machine shop that will fabricate them for you. It would be less expensive and arouse less suspicion if you purchase a small grinder with a cut-off wheel and make your own. With a little practice, you can make a whole set in an afternoon. Use a copy of the illustrations in this book as templates and carefully cut them out with an X-ACTO knife. Cut down the middle of the lines. Acquire some stainless steel (many steak knives approach proper thickness).

With a glue stick, lightly coat one side of the paper template and apply it to the cleaned stainless surface, and allow it to dry. You'll need a can of black wrinkle finish spray paint. This kind of paint has a high carbon content and can stand high temperature of grinding. Spray the stainless (or knives) with the patterns glued on and dry in a warm oven or direct sunlight for one hour. Set aside for twenty-four more hours. Peel off the paper template and you are ready to cut and grind. Please use caution when cutting and grinding. The piece should be quenched every three seconds in cold water. Smooth up sharp edges with a small file or burnishing wheel.

Tools made from stainless steel will outlast the purchased ones. The tools purchased from most suppliers are made from spring steel and wear out after about 100 uses. The stainless steel ones, if properly made, should last over 2,000 uses.

Hmm... Personally, since the purchased kits are only around ten dollars, I prefer just buying the kits... The effort in cutting and filing isn't really worth all that time since the kits will work just as well.

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