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Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:21 am
by NorthernLock

I'm new to lock-picking so if some of my questions I ask seem a little naive, that's because I am.

I've picked 3 padlocks so far with a small set of picks I bought from eBay.

I've watched many videos including bosnianbill (my favourite) on picking and now feel I'm ready for something a little more challenging.

What would be the recommended next step to improve my picking skills?

As always thank you in advance for any advise you can help me with...

Kind regards

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:48 am
by Papa Gleb
Its really all about practice and practice on different locks is the key. Even without security pins, there are plenty of locks that offer a great challenge because their tolerances are different. I know for a fact, Sargent locks are some of the best to practice on. You can also get a practice challenge locks, I forget which company but Im sure someone can post it but this company provides a lock with many different key pins to change the bitting then also provide a nice variation of security pins. If you are looking at it as buying one lock it will seem expensive but in fact you are getting several locks because you can always make changes so although you are getting one physical lock body, you are in fact getting dozens of variations of that lock.

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:18 am
by MHM
Yep like Papa Gleb says above, just practice on an insane variety of stuff - pretty much any commercial padlock or door cylinder you can lay your hands on. You don't want to waste money on high security stuff - you'll only get frustrated - but anything you can buy at reasonable cost from a hardware store is an excellent place to start.

The most popular practice lock is this one: ... tice-lock/

And it's ok, but just be aware that even though you can change both top and bottom pinning, you're stuck with the same Schlage keyway profile. It's a nice learning tool though.

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:37 am
by NorthernLock
Thanks, Papa Gleb and MHM for your helpful replies,

I have thought about getting a training lock but I think I'll have a try at making one myself,
the pins and springs are readily available on eBay (is 2.8mm the correct size?)

as you say the pins can be rearranged so that it becomes a completely different lock,

I think this will allow me to increase the difficulty level at my own pace.

Kind Regards

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:44 pm
by Papa Gleb
MHM, thanks for the link, that is the company I was speaking of. He is also right about the keyway as it remains the same and is also a big part of learning picking because your favorite pick wont fit into every lock so it becomes a factor. Not sure which area you are in but in NY, craigslist is a gold mine for me as well as garage sales. Also, many locksmith/hardware shops are often friendly to lock enthusiastic and will often give you locks to practice on for free. Again depends on your area but in NY I have lockshops every 2-3 miles and during my active days made it my business to know all of them. This yielded tons of practice locks for free or for a few bucks. I have this shop, its a nice drive away so I cant get to him often but when ever I do he sells me a bucket or locks for $20. For that price is doesnt even matter what is in side the bucket because its all practice or parts. If none of these are options for you then making your own security pins may be a good option.

I would also recommend to invest into a good set of pick rather than spending a lot on locks. A good pick properly finished can make a world of a difference when picking. I speak from personal experience as years ago I dished out on many peterson picks and still use the same ones till today.

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:22 pm
by NorthernLock
I've purchased the following set from eBay.


and as recommended I've smoothed down the edges on a few of the more useful picks and made some tensioners from windshield wipers.

The transparent lock is not that much use as I can pick it with just about anything, however,

another post I've read is about to repin a similar lock, should be interesting.

I live near Manchester in the UK so unfortunately nipping to New York isn't an option for me, although I was there in February (very cold).

Re: Next step to improve my picking skills?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:37 pm
by Papa Gleb
This is a decent starting set but in reality you are only using 2 maybe 3 of the picks from this set. If you do decided to invest into commercial picks then I believe SouthOrd are the common brand in UK and I have heard good about their "max" line. This all falls into how deep you plan to get into the hobby. If you think you may give it up in a month then keep things as they are and get some locks to practice but if you feel that this is something you want to do for a long while then def invest into some good picks with good handles. Alternative, you can make your own picks from wiper blades but down side is that you will need to make handles for them as they will dig into your skin/hand during picking.

NY can be cold but it doesnt bother me, I'm Russian :)