I will admit, I have been looking forward to these ever since I heard about them several months back. Last night a review copy of the Polaris lock rake kit arrived. Here are some initial impressions:
The Polaris is the baby of Chris Dangerfield of UKBumpkeys. It is available from UKBumpkeys or their North American outlet, LockPickWorld.com. Polaris went on sale a couple of days ago and apparently are selling fast! Currently available at an introductory price with a 5,000 word ebook on raking techniques.
I was expecting the usual sort of pouch that lock picks come in. Instead, the envelope contained a rather elegant-looking black wallet. As I opened the flap it was obvious that it had magnetic fastening.
Once opened, you are confronted by a suede-type interior and a neat row of polished rakes, each in its own pocket. A flap to cover the points is thoughtfully provided, which is a nice attention to detail. On the far left, an eleventh pocket holds a pair of turning tools, one TOK and one BOK.
Each rake is nicely polished and proudly marked “DANGERFIELD – POLARIS”. Each rake is also numbered, which is a feature I approve of. It can be useful to know you have already tried “no.4” or that “no.3” worked best on a similar lock in the past.
Polaris gives you ten rakes, and a very nice selection they are too! All rakes are 0.025"/0.635 mm thickness.
Regular readers will know that I have wanted to try a double hump Bogota. Rake no.1 is a double-hump Bogota! No.2 is the more common but very useful three-hump and no.3 is a four-hump. These all made quick work of most of my test locks.
Recently I have worked on several locks that seem to respond best to a technique that is intermediate between single pin picking (SPP) and raking. I use a rake but need to concentrate on a particular group of pins. The two-hump proved useful on these locks, having a bit more room to move about. On the other hand, the three-hump seemed a fraction faster on locks susceptible to conventional scrubbing and rocking.
Rake no.4 looked very similar to the four-hump Bogota but the peaks are more rounded. This is a cycloid rake. It resembles a Bogota but with slightly lower and more rounded peaks. No.5 is more symmetrical and you might think of it as a form of snake, worm or serpentine rake. It is actually a four-hump sinusoid. These are both useful for locks where the Bogotas are too tall.
No.6 and 7 are five-wave cycloid and sinusoid and appear to have a slightly lower wave-height, making them useful in locks that 4 and 5 are too high for.
So far, a nice, intelligent selection of rakes that nicely complement each other.
No.8 is a bit of a change of style since it is a ripple or jag, also known as an “L” or “city” rake. I think of this one as a “classic city”. I have at least two other kits with rakes of exactly the same profile. When I first started lock picking I was not particularly keen on jags. I did not then appreciate that they were not for techniques such as zipping or scrubbing. The correct way to use a jag is rocking. The no.8 is a fraction taller than some of the other city rakes I have. This is easily addressed with a little filing, but I doubt this is significant since jags tend to only be useful in taller, straighter keyways. When a jag does work, however, it tends to work very fast indeed! No.8 is no exception!
No.8 is the only straight-backed rake in the set, making it useful if you want to count the pins in a lock. Interestingly, I was able to use the straight back to rock open a mushroom-pinned practice lock.
You may have noticed that most lock pick sets seem to share the same assortment of picks? I have never seen another kit with rakes like no.9 and 10. When I first saw them I thought of them as double-sided jags. Chris Dangerfield likens them to jiggler keys.
Like more conventional jags, these can quickly open some locks by rocking. I have also had successes using them for gentle scrubbing. No.9 and 10 are fairly wide in places but I have opened some narrower, twisty locks by using the curves of the rake to probe around. Novel, but useful designs. Note that most of the rakes in this kit can be treated as double-sided. If they do not work one way up they may work inverted. Always worth trying.
I like the turning tools in this kit. Raking can be difficult with a TOK tool when used in the top of the keyway so try using it at the bottom. This suits some lock ways better than the other tool. When I first opened the wallet I was a little disappointed there was not more room for additional turning tools. Part of the reason for this is the turning tool pocket is on the wallet flap, so space is a little limited. You can probably fit a few more BOK tools in the pocket, and it would be useful to have a selection of different widths and thicknesses. Perhaps Dangerfield will release an add-on set?
I like the magnet feature of the wallet. It adds a certain “majesty” to opening it. It may have practical applications too. Turning tools and rakes can be “stuck” to either of the outer panels, useful when you need a hand free but cannot return the tool to its pocket. Will the wallet stick to a metal panel such as a locker door? Yes it does! It sticks to my fridge too!
The kit comes with a 5,000 word ebook on raking techniques. I don’t know if that is a permanent component or just for the introductory offer. Since my set is a review sample I did not get the ebook. Knowing Chris’ experience and enthusiasm for raking I expect it to be well worth a read.
In conclusion, this is a really, really nice rake set. Classy to look at but also with a really useful selection of rakes. It has all of the rakes you might wish for and also some effective novel designs. It is, as advertised, just a rake set. If you want to learn SPP you will need some hooks and half-diamonds. A Serenity and a Polaris kit would be an awesome combination! I plan to add a snake-rake to my Polaris set.
I would say, “add these to your Christmas list”, but I understand these are moving fast so the introductory offer may not last that long!