Today I am going to look at two different lock pick kits. A seven piece kit and a five piece.
The seven piece kit is one you have already seen in my post on the Serentity plus kit I have built. These are often referred to as “mini-rakes” or “finger rakes”.
Regular readers will know that one of my more reluctant locks I practice on is a little Abus. In my early days of picking I considered the possibility that my Bogota rakes were too big to pick this lock. Hence, I became interested in acquiring a set of rakes more suited to smaller keyways. Experience has shown that it was my skills that were deficient in the case of the Abus. The Bogota is one of the most reliably performing picks for this lock. Ironically one of the best picks for this lock is the much larger Octo rake. I was, however, well aware that in a few months I might have to deal with much smaller padlocks, so the finger rakes remained on my wish list.
Problem was, these rakes are actually part of a much larger kit. Many stockists break the kit into two parts and sell the parts separately. The finger rakes tend to sell well so are usually out of stock. Understandably vendors are reluctant to restock until they have shifted some of the other half of the kit. In short, I have had to wait several months for these. At least once they sold out before I was able to place my order.
The finger rakes appear to be made from what I suspect is music/ piano wire. The actual rake parts have had their sides filed flat to thin them. That is some nice attention to detail. What many websites on making picks from paper clips fail to tell you is that paperclips may be too wide for some keyways. You will need to file down the sides, or in the field, abrade them on a suitable hard surface.
If you look carefully you will see the rakes can be grouped into two styles. One style resembles Soho/ Sabana/ Monserate-type rakes in that a straight section separates the humps. The set has a two-hump and a three-hump example, top and fifth down in the photo. The peak to peak distance (wavelength) of the finger rakes (12mm) is close to that of the equivalent part of a Soho, but not identical (13.5mm).
The remaining rakes might be termed as “continuous wave”, with one to five peaks. Wavelength is close (7mm), but not identical (6.5mm), to that of a triple-hump Bogota.
I brought this set to use on small keyways. A very pleasant surprise has been that this kit works very well on many standard size keyways too. Being constructed of music wire these rakes are very light and springy. They are not suited to techniques such as rocking. The technique that seems to suit them best is scrubbing. Insert them in the keyway and move them back and forth. As always in lock picking, if it does not work, use less force!
I did find a padlock with a tiny key way, only about 4 mm high. Mindboggling thinking about how small the pins must be! The main challenge was finding a suitable turning tool. I ended up using a short length of hairpin, doubtless a product of some of my recent handcuff opening experiments. The finger rakes popped this tiny lock open in a few seconds. They also open small warded luggage locks. Even the multiple-peaked examples fitted down the lockway.
People who make lock pick kits are well aware of the “socket set mentality” many men have, also known as “more is better”. The three-hump “Sabana” can do anything the two-hump can. In small locks only the first hump and a half of either is likely to contact the pins. Likewise, the five-hump wave can do anything its less endowed sisters can. I am uncertain as to if the single-hump has potential as an SPP half-diamond. The locks I have successfully opened with it also open for the Sabanas and multi-waves. This implies that you could potentially split the finger rake set into two sets, making sure each has a Sabana and either a four or five wave rake. The three-hump and five-wave might find their way into my main lock kit.
I like the finger rakes a lot. I expected them to be a specialist item but they have proved more useful and versatile than expected. UK Bump Keys have them for under just under £3/ $5, which is great value. A few stockists charge a bit more, but this is often still a good price given how useful they are likely to be. These finger rakes tend to sell out fast, so balance how much you are willing to pay with how long you want to wait.
The larger kit the finger rakes come with is usually termed a “Wave rake” kit. I have seen these attributed to either KLOM, “Honest” or DAINU, with considerable variation in price. These are probably all made in the same place in China, so the possibility of directly importing only the finger rakes should be looked into.
The second set that I am looking at is one that I brought when I first began buying lock picks. It was a fun purchase of what I considered a novelty item.
As you can see, it comes in a box printed as James Bond’s credit card. (Visa? I would have thought Access as better for lock picks!). The design on the box will actually vary, some websites offering a blank fronted box. I am a bit dubious as to the tactical practicality of pick sets apparently designed to fit in a wallet. It seems if you are illegally detained your wallet and jewellery are very likely to be taken off you. This kit seems a little thick to fit in a wallet, but my wallet is one that only holds cards and is a little on the small side, so others may feel differently.
This kit was a surprise. The picks are actually quite nice! Several times on this blog I have mentioned the poor finish and crude production methods of some Chinese-made lock pick sets. The picks in this set are nicely finished with a good polish and smooth edges. The metal seems adequately springy. I have seen one video where the picks showed signs of rusting so watch out for this if you carry them in humid conditions. It seems I was lucky with this example. The second of these kits that I brought was of much cruder finish.
The kit has two Single Pin Picking (SPP) lifters: a hook and a half-diamond. You also get two rakes: a snake and a jag/ city rake. The fifth piece is a turning tool. I have seen one video on youtube where the kit came with two hooks instead of a snake. I have also seen a kit offered for sale with a training lock that apparently has a duplicate snake instead of the jag.
I have heard complaints that the tools are too short but I have not found that to be a case. My Bogotas are probably shorter. The short handles may be an issue if you are using them for prolonged SPP. For the rakes the short handles are perfectly adequate.
I like the snake rake. Last night I even opened my Abus with it. Regular readers know I am not a big fan of jags and ideally I would rather have seen a two or three-hump Bogota in this kit instead. I suspect the kit predates Bogotas, however. That said, this jag works very well. Using it as a rocker it has opened several of my practice locks in well under a minute.
The one piece I do not like is the turning tool. It is too thin for a turning tool of this type and the noses too narrow. Used centre of the cylinder (TOK) it continually pops out. It is not much better edge of the cylinder (BOK). The best use for it may be to grind it into a Bogota!
This kit may be more practical if carried without the box. I have seen suggestions for drilling a hole in each handle so they can be carried on a split ring. Or rivet them to create a fan. There are key carriers that resemble jack-knives and this is potentially another way to carry this set. The short handles could be used as a tang to fit a longer handle.
The reason I think this kit may be of interest is that it can be found at very low prices. I paid just a few pounds for mine and the vendor also sent me a free booklet on lock picking. I have seen these sets at even lower prices. Then again, I have also see the same sets at five or six times this price, so shop around.