Lock picking is the activity that opens a lock without the proper key. When we are thinking of it, usually we are associating it with illegal activities. But that isn’t always the case!
Let’s think for example what we can do if we have lost the house key or if we have locked ourselves outdoors. If we live on the ground floor we could jump through the window (if it’s not open we can easily break it with a stone). But if we are not, we either unlock the door or… break it (which is not a cheap solution). With a bit of talent and an unsophisticated lock, we can manage to unlock it ourselves. Though the reality is not quite like in the movies (when a door is unlocked in a couple of minutes, just in time for the hero to save the heroine). The best solution is to call for a professional locksmith, who is trained to deal with these situations.
When picking a lock, a locking tools kit is needed. The simplest kit contains a tension wrench (a screwdriver for example) and a lock pin (a long, thin piece of metal, curved at the end). In an emergency situation, a lock pin is successfully replaced with a hair pin. A professional kit will have a lot of tension wrenches (in different sizes and shapes) and a lot of dimensions for the lock pins. Or it could have a pick gun (contains many metal pieces, that vibrate and push all the lock pins up at once).
First step is to insert the tension wrench in the keyhole and turn the cylinder like a normal key would do. Then we can insert the lock pin and carefully start to lift the pins up. When they reach the normal position we will hear a slight click and the lock is unlocked.
Along with “picking” there is another technique called “racking”. It presents a lower level of precision. We need a special pick called a “rake”. This will be inserted until it hits the back of the cylinder (not slowly like a pick) and it will be pulled out quickly in order to hit all the pins up on its way out. In the meantime the cylinder is turned with the tension wrench.
Master locks are one of the hardest locks to be picked! They are not infallible, but they do have an excellent protection system. They were invented in 1921, by Henry Soref, who thought of producing the padlocks in laminated layers of steel. While the Master locks in padlocks have the same picking system as the other locks, Master locks in combined formats require a patient and skillful locksmith.
There are a lot of lock picking books, which teach us the techniques of lock picking step by step. Sometimes they are accompanied by a video or CD for a better illustration. Some of the books are written for professional locksmiths, but there are also many others directed to people that simply want to know more about the subject. Sometimes the books show the history of locks and lock picking or how a person can become a locksmith!
When buying a lock, we have to keep in mind the value of what we intend to protect! Most locks can be picked, but buying a good one increases our security and safeness!