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Locksmith Blog | Locksmiths Blog | Blog
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Lock Buying Guide - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
A new addition to my locksmith wolverhampton website is the 'Buying a lock guide' aimed at customers looking for information on choosing the best lock for their door at the right price.

Feel free to take a look at the site (currently under construction) and i would be greatful for any feedback or ideas to improve what i hope will become a popular resource.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 12:58 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:26 AM GMT
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Friday, 10 September 2010
Random Experiments - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Lock picking

I have always struggled with the picking of the 7 pin Garrison locks so have been experimenting with various new ideas to open them.

Im pretty sure after my last post its fair to say they will be shimmable like the mt5 was.

Secondly was impressioning.
I had a crude attempt at making up an impressioning key that used a plasticine face in which to sink the pins. I made this by sinking each cut to full depth (and a bit more).

I then filled the rest of the key with soft plasticine and carved the profile back in.


The main problem would be getting the key in the lock unscathed. My method was to stick the key in the freezer for 10 minutes although in a real situation it would be better to use a gas aerosol or similar.

Anyhow once the key was in the lock i left a few minutes to thaw and began the self impressioning wiggling.

I managed to get the lock to false set on 3 attempts meaning there were pins oversetting. The problem with garrisons is there always seems to be high and low pins situated alongside one another making impressioning tough. (this is why i didnt go for foil)

Although i didn't get a 100% result here it displayed some positive results and with a few modifications i think il be able to get this to work.

and Thirdly the rake key.

Using a Garrison bump key i machined away a mm of the edge of the key so that i could insert a tension wrench in with the bump key. The idea being you can hold light tension while concentrating on the raking as oppose to trying both with one hand movement.

Rake key

Again some success. I managed yet again the false set, however it was then impossible to remove the key to pick the remaning pins by hand. So all in all not much use... just like the bump key 

 Rick | West Midlands locksmiths

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:57 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:40 PM GMT
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Sunday, 5 September 2010
Opening an MT5 - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

I recently aquired a small box of mul-t-lock euros of various types including a few MT5 cylinders.

snapped locks

mt5 lock

Having never encountered these before i naturally spent a short time picking the lock which i found to be pretty challenging. The telescopic pins lacked the sloppy feel of the classic style lock.

In defeat i decided to open her up and see what I was up against.

Each driver pin is a self contained spring and inner pin as usual but of smaller diameter and inner driver slightly serrated on the end.

Main pins consist of inner and outer pins again of smaller diameter than the classic.

pin stacks in lock

The sixth pin in the back of the lock is a special shape with a protruding conjoined piece that  sits out of line with the other pins and is located at the rear right hand side of the keyway.

mt5 pin

The particular model of MT5 i have i assume is not the plus (+) model incorporating the sidebar as no sidebar was present and the plug does not look machined to take any finger pins.

mt5 plug

I really needed a way to defeat this lock without drilling should i ever encounter one. (Note the MT5 has the usual halfmoon hardened drillplates that sit under the plug and hardened pins so drilling could be awkward).

You may remember a few weeks back i toyed with the idea of frontal shimming. As the MT5 has such a thin plug face and no aparent protection against this attack i decided to give it a shot.

So i hacked away with a junior hacksaw right to the hardplate in the lock which was sufficient to expose the locks sheer line.

bypassing locks

...and slowly worked the shim through the lock by overlifting the pins one at a time to progress deeper with the shim, it was a little fiddly as the serration on the inner driver tends to catch but reversing up a fraction and then manipulating the center pin easilly overcomes this.

shimming a lock

 You will be able to shim the first five pins in the lock but the special 6th pin didnt seem to want to know so instead i used a tension wrench and just picked it. It is located at the back right hand side of the keyway.

Picking locks

Hey presto one open lock.

Ok, its techinically a semi-destructive method but works a treat and is something i would definately use in a real world situation as oppose to trying to pick this lock which would take considerably longer in my opinion.

Im sure the MT5+ will be a different story but i cant really comment til i get my hands on one.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 4:55 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:41 PM GMT
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Friday, 3 September 2010
Sub-contracting, Is it worth the hassle? - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
In the UK most locksmiths have either worked for or definately heard of the main contractors; Keytek, Reactfast, Lockaid, Able Group; that supply work all over the country to self employed locksmiths like you and I and pay you a cut of the money, typically 40-60% minus your CIS deductions.

These companies charge heavilly and often encourage a huge markup on parts. As the subcontractor you are deployed to complete the work and deliver the bad news (the bill). Its often an uncomfortable position to be put as a lot of your customers tend to be poor or elderly folk, easilly mislead and manipulated over the phone.

Its rare you find a lockie that enjoys working for these companies, however as a new start up its an essential stepping stone in gaining experience and meeting new customers.

I myself knocked two contracts on the head after a few months, mainly because I wasnt tough enough to rob from the poor to give to the rich... I often found myself charging as little as possible so that the customers didnt go away and hang themselves afterwards.

Secondly, when it came to pay day getting your money was usually an ordeal. As most of you know all monies generated are to be sent to the contractor on job completion and then you are paid your share and reimbursed for your expenses at the end of the week/month.

Payment rarely arrived on time and i often found myself out of pocket the end of the month and chasing my money. Able Group and Reactfast were particularly skilled at delaying payment and i eventually resorted to threats of removing locks I had installed.

Initially Lockaid werent too sloppy on the paying up side until I began negotiating a higher percentage for work further afield. Needless to say im still awaiting payment to this day for that work....
I have also been asked to perform underhand tactics such as 'go back and see if you can charge a bit more on the parts' and to perform work without receipts. Lockaid are indeed a very shady company to the extent i cant publish some of my suspicions.....
and that was the last bit of sub-contracting i did.

My accounts are just the tip of the iceburg, iv heard stories of big lockies being shafted for thousands by non paying contractors thats seem to turn on the subbing locksmith for no apparent  reason.

It will always be a risky area to work in and undoubtedly an uncomfortable one. It all boils down to how badly you want the work, unfortunately for the newcomer its pretty much essential to get the ball rolling and to meet new customers.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:04 AM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2016 8:10 AM BST
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Thursday, 2 September 2010
Finally Back Online - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
Aghh, moving house was far more stressful than i imagined but im now finally back online and back in business.

Had a wonderful 2 weeks in the Maldives and was suprised to see an interesting lock in use on our apartment door. (My wife was delighted to see me wasting our cameras memory snapping locks...)

Made by Fontaine, Paris is appears to be a crude tubular style lock with a big brass key. Unfortunately i didnt have my tools with me (under threat of death from my wife)

I cannot find much info on the lock to link to other than a youtube video. A translation would be appreciated from any of my overseas subscribers :-)

fontaine locks

brass tubular lock key

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:20 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 5 September 2010 5:39 PM BST
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Friday, 23 July 2010
Lock For Alcoholics - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
One final post before the internet provider cuts me off...

I stumbled across this amusing lock design whilst searching on the internet.

The alcoholic's groove ensures no drunkard ever misses the keyhole and gets home safely...

Whether its a real design or just a joke, im not sure.

Il let you decide :-D

alcoholics lock

Posted by Rick the Pick at 7:28 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 5 September 2010 5:38 PM BST
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Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Moving - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
Things may be quiet here for a few weeks as im about to get married and move house all in one go. It will take a while to get unpacked and get the internet back up and running. No doubt i will have plenty more to post when im back.

Happy picking and il be back soon

union euro profile cylinder lock

Posted by Rick the Pick at 2:52 PM BST
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Monday, 19 July 2010
Lever Lock Bible - Locksmith blog
Topic: Bypassing
For those with a particular interest in lever locks click here (You will need powerpoint).

Theres not everything in there, but most of the five lever locks i ever encounter.

Note: this is something i created for my own personal use and id prefer it not to be distributed outside of this site as intended solely for hobbiest/locksmith reference.

If you have no understanding of lever locks id strongly suggest you dont risk drilling a lock!

Measurements taken from top center of keyway and for lever picking only.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:35 AM BST
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Saturday, 17 July 2010
Amusing Destructive Entry - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing
Heres another old video worth sharing:

This was supposed to be a plug puller demo for a local locksmith training course... but didnt end as planned.

You couldnt make this stuff up!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:13 AM BST
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Friday, 16 July 2010
Securefast Decoder - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Lock picking

If you deal with any particulat lever lock on a regular basis it may be worth investing some money in a decoder / make up key kit for that lock.

They are fairly exspensive but can save a lot of time when compared to picking or drilling open the locks.

These decoder kits can read the levers in the lock.

The decoder for the securefast locks reads the levers by the height which they are lifted which then corresponds to a cut depth.

Here is a demonstration by a local locksmith in Middlesbrough that encounters securefast 5 lever locks on a regular basis.

 Important things to note:

- Make sure to place the pins in the correct slots in the blank.

- When no pin is required remember to leave that part of your blank empty and not insert the next pin into that hole.

- When cutting a key from the make up key remember to reverse the cuts for the rest of the key.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:37 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:43 PM GMT
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Alternative DE Methods - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

Looking through some of my old pictures I came across a few i took whilst experimenting with drilling certain locks.


A method you can use to open the Kaba dimple cylinders:

The Kaba cylinders consist of a self contained unit housed in the lock body. This is held in by a hard steel grub screw. (This is usually sealed over with a resin)

Once that is removed the whole unit will turn, regardless of being picked or not.

gemini lock

kaba gemini

As you can see above, the grub screw in a traditional shaped cylinder is located at approx 45 degrees clockwise. In a euro/oval profile the grub screw is directly beneath the plug.

You will need a hard plate drill or two to break the grub screw as its hard grade steel, drill using slow drill speed with plenty of force!

drilling a gemini

Once the grub screw is out of the picture the lock can be opened with a flat blade screwdriver. It may take a little force as the end of the grub screw may remain in tact but will fall loose quite easilly.

Proof that it works: A jammed/broken key situation, it required a little drilling in the keyway just to make room for the screwdriver blade

broken key in lock



A relative; a locksmith for a large gaming firm gave me a few abloy knockoff cam locks a while back to see if there was a better way to open them quickly, without running a huge drill down the center and ripping out the guts.

As most rear tensioning disk detainers these little locks were almost impossible to pick so a neat destructive bypass technique was needed.

I decided the best method would be to locate the sidebar position, drill a small 1/8th hole and remove from the lock.

After dismantling the lock i located the sidebar:


11mm down from center of the ‘0’, 5mm right

With the assumption the lock is fitted upright.

I assembled the lock and tested the method with great results!

disk detainer

drilled lock
Do not drill toofar into the lock, you only want to penetrate the housing. If you are slightly out with your measurements you will be able to line the sidebar by turning the cylinder slightly with a screwdriver as they tend to be a bit sloppy and allow some movement.

Once your sidebar is aligned, spray a little WD40 in the hole to remove any thick grease that will hold the bar in and then tap gently with the end of your screwdriver or bump hammer to free the sidebar, it should literally fall out!

Of course this method will only work on the cheap disk detainer locks. More expensive counterparts will have an L shaped sidebar to prevent such an attack and also come with hard steel fronts to prevent an easy drilling attack.

Rick | Walsall Locksmith

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:40 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:45 PM GMT
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Thursday, 15 July 2010
Ajam curtain picks - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

Iv always been a bit wary about buying expensive curtain picks. I just cannot justify shelling out hundreds of pounds for a few pieces of machined stainless.

Im sure im not the only one, therefore im happy to share another alternative:

A local locksmith that runs a training course nearby took the time to design some simple picks and have them machined at a local engineering firm.

These picks are cheap and simple, made from toughened steel they will never break or round off at the ends.

lock picks

I have used these picks since he started producing them i even have a couple of the early prototypes in my toolbag and use them frequently when opening lever locks.

The set i own has five, six and seven gauge tools complete with standard and low bellied picks for reaching under the low hanging levers. All comes in a leather pouch.

curtain pick lever locks

Heres a few old locks i picked with the set a while back whilst testing the tools:

era lock

legge locks

securefast lever lock

chubb 3k75 lock

The whole set comes in at just over one hundred pounds!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:19 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:46 PM GMT
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Friday, 9 July 2010
Safe Tamper Bolt - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Locksmith Jobs

I took a quick picture of the inside of an old chubb safe i worked on just to show how the tamper mechanism works.

Older safes were prone to a destructive attack whereby the lock was hammered away from the face of the safe..

In this case a bracket is affixed to the back of the lock which holds a large ball bearing in recess.

Hooped around this Ball bearing is a wire attatched to a spring loaded deadbolt. (pictured bottom left)

chubb safe lock

When the lock is forced backwards the ball bearing is dislocated and allows the spring loaded bolt to engage, securing the safe.

This mechanism can also be triggered in old safes that have never been serviced and parts may have come loose.

A customer will usually describe the 'PING' of the ball bearing landing in the cup below it when calling a locksmith regarding their safe failure.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:07 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 9 July 2010 11:26 AM BST
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Sunday, 4 July 2010
Worn Lever Lock Opening - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing


Sifting through some old videos I have and i came across this one i filmed for a local locksmith training school.

This is a locksmith called Shane teaching students how to open lever locks suffering from long term wear and tear.

Bumping a lever lock!?

Watch the video for an excellent demonstration of this handy little trick that can save you a lot of time!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:11 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 4 July 2010 3:19 PM BST
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Friday, 2 July 2010
Digital lock Permutations - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

There are many forms of the mechanical digital lock. Although a lot of them are quite vunerable to manipulation techniques such as button feeling. This Guide for example shows how to manipulate the combo dial padlocks by Master.

Most locksmiths carry around a list of permutations (linked below) for the xyz digital locks, it can take a while but it will work providing the lock isn't faulty.

However i discovered a nice little web-tool that allows you to calculate all the permutations for other variations of  mechanical locks. (Or any other mathematical problem)

If you encounter a lock that has no distinguishing button marks you can write next to them in pencil for reference

...and just for your info heres the list for the xyz locks, remember to prefix with a C

Another alternative is the xyz tool but from experience i have found it awkward to use and can make a mess of the door being so sharp round the edges.

xyz lock

What i have noticed when dismantling and code changing is that 90% of the time you have three active buttons on the right set of digits and two on the left (When looking from the rear of the lock). This means our code list could be optimised with those combinations first in our list to save time! However i havent found the time to re-arrange the list yet so you'l have to wait for that one.

Im also working on a list for the simplex codes but as there are so many permutations im re-ordering that in order of most likely first. Its going to take a while but will be well worth it.

NOTE: This has been abandoned upon discovering alternative bypass techniques!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 10:53 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:47 PM GMT
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Bypassing Gerda Locks - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

A while back i sat down with a Gerda high security deadlock to see if i could pick it open.

Alas i was beaten... just couldnt seem to set all the pins although im sure it is possible.

I needed to find a way around this lock so dismantled it in order to understand the workings.


The back of the lock cylinder is attatched to a cam:

gerda cam

Once turned this cam lifts and slides the lock bolts via this spring loaded plate mechanism:

gerda bolt

It just may be possible to bypass this lock if we can create entry to this plate, lift it (thus freeing the bolt) and then throwing the bolt back.

The ideal drill points to achieve such a bypass would be either side of the gerda cylinder angled inwards as to reach behind it.

It would require two separate lifts at each end as each end is spring loaded and ideally a thrid tool to move the bolt.

This would require the anti-drill excutcheon to be removed but often they arent secured properly anyway.

Note that this lock has a double bolt throw so the action may need to be repeated twice.

As of yet this is an untested method as id borrowed this lock from a fellow locksmith in Wolverhampton. As soon as i get my hands on another, its on like donkeykong!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:59 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 31 December 2012 12:07 PM GMT
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Thursday, 1 July 2010
Foil Impressioning Tool - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

A while ago i purchased one of those foil impressioning kits for dimple locks from UK bump keys.

I was really looking forward to having a play with this tool as a lot of videos had been circulating on the web.

My first problem was finding a lock that the tool actual fit into. It was no good for mul-t-lock and in the end i managed to find a knockoff made by Wan & Jia (that is also rekeyable with a special key) that i could try it out on.

The foil preparation is pretty fiddly but a few attempts and i managed to prepare the perfect piece.
A few seconds of wiggling and the lock opened... hurrah!



It also snapped the blade of the tool, with virtually no tension i might add.

broken tool

All in all not a bad design but not strong enough to be used on the job, plus you may never come across a lock that it will actually fit in unless you live in mainland China, so probably not worth the investment.

Bit dissappointed but i may be able to use the parts for something else.... like a mul-t-lock tool....

impression blade

This one was made from a mul-t-lock garrison blade and has yet to work for me. Its hardly precision engineering i just went at the key with a dremel for a while and im guessing i havent cut quite deep enough for the low sitting pins to rest.

Has anyone foil impressioned a garrison yet? Let me know!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:19 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:48 PM GMT
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Unlocking jammed uPVC Doors - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

Its quite common in this weather that uPVC doors swell up, mechanism starts going stiff and eventually the user forces the handle and breaks the spindle in the backbox.

These can be a complete nightmare to open if you arent equiped with the right tools.

My father in law is a council locksmith and encountered this problem quite often so decided to sit down and design a tool for opening them.

And here it is: The bent screwdriver

lock tool

firstly you will need to remove the cylinder from the door, preferably from the inside to make life easier.

This now gives you access the the multipoint locking rail.
Inserting the tool into the lower corner of the lock case will usually put you directly under the rail and allow bypassing of the spindle mechanism.

upvc lock

opening upvc lock

Rotating the tool will push the rail upwards and retract all the hooks and rollers in the door. This may require a little more force on some occassions where a roller may have gone the wrong side of its keep or the mech is very rough and stiff.

upvc door tool

...and once its all unlocked the usual mica or airbag will be enough just to pop the latch.

Heres a quick 'one handed' video demo i made.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:59 AM BST
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Disgusting Repo's - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Locksmith Jobs

Iv just returned from a nice early morning property reposession.

Today it was a butchers shop and i really wasnt looking forward to this one, id already met up with the tenant who was an absolute nutter so we figured it would be best to do this one early before he shows up.

It seems he knew we were coming and after quickly gaining entry I sheepishly poked my head round the door to see what was in store.

Immediately i was hit by the foul smell ... old meat had been left in the back room and was festering nicely, flies buzzing around all over the place. It really was a stomache wrencher...

There were plenty of grusome looking knives lying around too, very intimidating... There was also a narrow dark room at the back with quiet music playing, but there was NO WAY i was going in there, thats not in the job description.

It takes a real animal to leave this mess and i hope the guy gets his just desserts. Its a shame you cant get a court order forcing them to clean up thier own mess... im just glad i dont have to do it

On a brighter note, i gained a nice pair of keyed alike ERA padlocks to play with once i clean all the e-coli from them.

era padlocks

Please spare five minutes and take a look at Pat's website:

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:17 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:51 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Shimming cylinders - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

Just toying around with another idea today as i had a lock that i just couldnt open...

I have some blade shims that i use to remove plugs where you push it in the rear of the cylinder to hold top pins above the shear line.

Iv always wondered if i could do this from the front in a lock out situation.

Cylinder plugs have a slight lip on the front to hide the sheer line of the lock to prevent this.

I decided to go at it with a junior hacksaw and cut just deep enough to reveal the sheer line. Id imagine the same can be achieved with a large enough drill bit.

With a bit of wiggling and a splash of wd40 it is now possible to shim open the cylinder from the front.

Rick | Locksmiths Walsall

lock shimming

euro cylinder

lock open

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:56 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 13 July 2013 7:27 AM BST
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