As regular readers will know, I have acquired a number of lock picking items over the last few months. What most will not know is this was with a particular goal in mind.
Where I work people are assigned lockers. This is on the understanding that come September, they empty the lockers and remove any locks. Of course, as is the spirit of the age many of them take the stance that the rules intended for everybody do not apply to them personally. It is quite amazing some of the things people will leave in lockers and often never return for!
Usually we cut the locks off or break them, but this sometimes damages the lockers. Given my newly learned skills this year I intended to pick as many locks as possible. This would also increase my collection of padlocks to practice on.
For the last few months I have acquired lock picks, comb picks, master keys and several other items that might help with “the Great Locker Opening”.
Ironically, for the first time, most of the people have observed the rules and vacated their lockers. Only five remain locked. One has a keypad padlock. Three are very small padlocks and one is rather large.
I will deal with the “failures” first. There is a technique for opening the keypad padlock. I was not able to get it to work in the limited time that I had so cut this one off. I was unable to open one of the small padlocks. The actual problem was the wide but very small key way. All of my turning tools proved to be too wide or too thing to engage. Those that would left no room to use a pick in. This was a very small padlock that was easily broken. It is a paradox that many of the hardest locks to pick are easiest to brute force.
The first success had an odd key way. Very narrow up at the pins but wide at the plug edge. Firstly I tried my usual “quick” openers. The bogota, the Octo-rake, the Warlock and the Worm. No luck! I tried one of my snakes and she popped open! I had brought my snakes for situations where the bogotas could not be used, so this vindicated that decision.
The second success also had a keyway much wider at the edge than the pins. It also resisted the bogota et al. I had a sudden inspiration that I should use a low jag. I selected the no.10 pick from my “Honest Wave” kit. The lock opened with a few seconds of rocking and jiggling. (Since then I have opened this padlock just by attempting to turn the plug with one of my longer Chinese turning tools. It also opens using my knife pick or by turning with a relatively thick pick such as my single hump bogota.)
This left the largest lock. At least there were no problems getting a turning tool in! I tried a variety of the usual picks but it resisted my seductions. For some reason I decided to try my half-snowman.
Many people dismiss ball picks as a gimmick. They will point out they do not do anything that more conventional picks cannot do. I don’t dispute this. My half-snowman was a novelty purchase, a bit of whimsy if you will. I actually could not find anyone selling a half-snowman so mine is actually a full-snowman with one side ground down.
I employed a technique known as “having a bit of a poke around”. You can imagine my surprise and delight when the lock popped open after a few seconds! (Since then I have opened this lock with other picks such as the Serenity bogota and the Sparrow Worm.)
I am quite happy with three out of four for my first “public” lock picking. The failure was more due to lack of a suitable tool than technique.
Several things were learnt her, some of which I will cover in later posts. The primary one is that I need a turning tool(s) that can deal with wide but small keyways. I have some ideas along these lines and will keep you informed.
Like any tool kit, a collection of lock picks tends to have a small number of tools that gets used for the majority of jobs. Interestingly, all three locks were opened by my “other” lock picks. I did not bring my credit card pick set with me for this, but might have tried the jag and the snake if I had. I have ordered a duplicate set and intend to add the tools to my Serenity Plus kit when they arrive.
It is quite surprising how often you drop turning tools! It can also be difficult to tell one from another when they are mixed together. Distinctively marking turning tools with paint, coloured tape or heat shrink may address both problems.