Are you making sure to zero the discs? I've seen some people try to pick them without zeroing and having a really hard time of it lol. You wouldn't get much feedback from the discs that way and you'd have a fuck of a time maneuvering through the disc pack as well.
If you are zeroing the discs, then I'm not sure what the problem could be. If you start with the very top disc, turn it all the way back then all the way to zero again and feel nothing whatsoever then something odd is going on. Unlike pin tumblers, all the discs are binding at once. There is no binding order; you can actually work straight from one end to the other without having to back-track providing you're careful and take your time a bit. I suspect you might be having trouble because you're actively trying to find the "binding" disc, when in fact all of them are and it doesn't matter.
I do have one lock here which I can't pick with the 2-in-1 tool though. It has the same bitting as another lock I have which picks very easily, but I can get next to no feedback out of any of the discs in it and it's very frustrating. Interestingly though, picking it with a basic wrench and wire is very easy. I'd suggest experimenting with other tools before you start going apeshit with modifications. You can see these picks in action here
. They're very simple to make.
Don't worry about the depth of the discs. You'll get the feel for how far to move the pick from one disc to the next in time. Just play with the pick alongside one of the keys and you'll get an idea. It's not as hard as you think but as with all things it does take time to adjust.
And you're right about the front disc. I covered this in my videos; if the front disc isn't a zero cut then it needs to be turned back a little because it isn't set under tension. The rest of the discs will still bind and you'll be able to set them, but in order to set the front disc and open it you need to apply tension to one of the zero discs and turn the front one back to align it.