I must start this article by pointing out that I have very little formal training in engineering, so there may be flaws in the following proposition. My main intention is to provoke some thought and discussion on the subject.
Recently I came across a statement about lock picks breaking. Lock picks are used for repetitive actions and this may lead to fatigue and breakages, no matter how much you paid for your picks. Being relatively new to the field of lock sport I have yet to have a pick break on me, personally.
When a pick does break you are likely to discover that the only way to get a replacement is to buy a new kit, many suppliers not offering singles on their websites. Or you can make your own, using the old pick as a model.
The question I want to raise is, is it possible to reduce the likelihood of breakage?
Below is an assortment of picks that I own. For better comparison I have selected hooks.
Chinese Goso Plastic Handle
Cheap Chinese (Goso?) Metal Handle
Dangerfield from Serenity Kit
Dangerfield Bogota Hook.
Obviously, some parts of a pick need to be small to fit into a lock. Does the rest of the pick need to be so fine, however? Even if you include large padlocks most keyways seem to be less than 50mm.
Most of the picks shown above have a relatively long, narrow neck that abruptly widens into a handle. The Dangerfield Serenity pick is off-set and widens with a step arrangement. In one of the Chinese picks the neck and handle are separate pieces joined by a pop-rivet. The Bogota (and Soho) picks remain fairly constant in width, twisting to form a handle that also serves as a turning tool.
Which of these configurations is stronger? The Bogota/ Soho configuration has the merit of versatility and compactness. Four such picks within a pouch take up much less room than two more conventional picks and eliminate the need to carry a standard width L-turning tool. Unfortunately this style is only available in a limited number of configurations. As well as the Soho and Bogota variants there is the Reina from Mad Bob, which appears to be the Princess/ Prince. Other than the Bogota single hook/ half-diamond hybrid there are no other hooks or lifters of this style, at least not commercially available.
If a pick does need a wider handle, would it not be mechanically stronger to have it widen as a curve rather than an abrupt step? Would some lightening holes in the wider part of the neck strengthen the tool and help disperse stresses? Perhaps there is a case for making picks from thicker stock and thinning the head section down?