If you're looking for a great beginner picking guide, try this book written by another Keypicking member: viewtopic.php?f=116&t=4377
As always I prefer using TOK (Top of the Keyway) tension. You'll always have more room for your pick and because the tensioner sits so close to the shearline the feedback is better and you can drop a specific number of pins easier. I always recommend the Peterson Prybars from Peterson International. They are absolutely stellar in every way. My choice of pick for these is a "Gem" ( ) style pick if the keyway allows it. A slightly longer and pointier short hook lets you lift pins higher without disturbing adjacent pins as you would with a short hook. There is nothing wrong with using a short hook ( ) or even a diamond ( ) or offset diamond ( ).
Clockwise: Allows you access to the operating line (unlock the door) or control line (remove the core).
Counter-Clockwise: Allows access to only the operating line.
One thing to note with picking counter-clockwise is that you can still pick to the control line however the plug will not turn. It will freeze. It is the same as inserting a control key and trying to turn it counter-clockwise. I have had this happen many times. You will feel a strange snap when you set that last pin and then everything will freeze.
If we ignore the different keyways and just focus on the lock itself, these locks have a very large spectrum of difficulty. The reason is because they have two shearlines and can be mastered or grandmastered. Seven (or six) pin chambers combined with two shearlines and a potentially large number of drivers and master pins leads to lots of variation in how the binding force is distributed as you pick.
You may find some BEST locks:
- Pick very easily to operating, control seems impossible
- Pick very easily to control, operating seems impossible
- Pick easily to operating CCW and easily to control CW
- Pick easily to operating both CW and CCW, control seems impossible
- Feel like you're endlessly setting pins and getting nowhere fast
Most other locks follow a strict set of rules and the binding force can be easily anticipated. Not the case with SFICs and that is why getting at the control line can be so difficult.
Forcing to Control
Warning: Heavy Tension Ahead. You will need to be using moderately heavy tension when doing any of this. If you can pull this off with light tension then I tip my hat to you sir. I will explain the reason for the hard tension.
There are a few tricks up my sleeve (pun intended) that I use in the case of a lock favoring the operating line when picking CW. The first thing you need to be able to do is successfully pick the lock to operating CW in a timely manor (<60 seconds, <30 seconds is preferable). You need to know exactly where to lift, how many times to lift and in what order. You will be lifting and resetting 20+, 30+, 50+ times, potentially 100+ times.
Once you have this map in your head, the first trick is to try deviating from it. Start with the first pin that binds. Try lifting every other pinstack except the first operating binding pinstack in your map to see if something else will lift and set. There are two shearlines that you're interacting with. Just because a pin feels binding when you start picking doesn't necessarily mean that is the path you need to take for control. There may be another pinstack that will catch and hold a driver on the control shearline. You are playing a game with the binding force of the lock. Because the binding force favors the operating line you need to force it onto the control shearline. This involves setting a pin on the control shearline. This is the first way you would try and do that. If you are able to set something, roll with it. Keep picking. You may notice that lock is now picking differently and it is very important that you remember what happens next (binding order). If the lock is heavily mastered this may be another route to operating. Now you will have two maps that you need to actively deviate from in order to avoid having the binding force stay on the operating line. Deep breathe... still nothing? Go back to your practiced binding order of picking to operating. Set the first pin like normal, then start deviating. Still nothing? Set two pins like normal then start deviating. Repeat this process and work your way through the practiced binding order deviating at different points. Don't forget that you can potentially lift the same pinstack multiple times due to master pins. Even if a particular pinstack feels set and feels like it won't lift anymore, try forcing it up by relieving tension and nudging it. It may set, it may be what you need to transfer the binding force. Don't be afraid of oversetting. You'll be able to tell if it is truly overset by the way the keypin feels. Your goal is deviate away from any route that produces a satisfied operating line. The reason for the hard tension is that you want to maximize the binding force so you can detect new routes. Always lessen your tension to normal as you lift so you aren't breaking your picks. This method is excellent and has worked for me every time. It will teach you a lot.
The second method involves playing games with the lock and purposefully oversetting pins and pre-lifting. You will need your good old picking map for this one too. If you notice a particular pinstack to be shallow, try pre-lifting it before applying tension. Sometimes I will half-lift a pinstack then apply tension and see if it will bind and lift higher. Again the goal is to divert the binding force of the lock to the control line. You can also purposefully overset and try to reverse-pick the lock. Tension like normal, then just keep lifting until you can't lift anything anymore (overset or not). Start dropping pins back down one by one and testing all pinstacks for binding as you drop pins. You're trying to catch something on the control shearline on the way down. The reason why you test for binding while dropping pins is so you see what state the lock is in and to set true binding pins in the process. Forget trying to memorize where you are in the process as this is more of a hit or miss method. I have used this successfully in the past. I used the pre-lift method on a core from Jeffmoss. Pin 1 was very deep and set with only a slight touch at the start. I lifted it halfway then applied tension and forced it higher. It set. Then the rest of the lock picked as if it were naturally favoring the control line. Good stuff.
You will notice once you have tricked the lock into grabbing onto the control shearline you may feel a strange snap. You'll see very slight plug rotation and the plug will wiggle (rock up/down/left/right) when you lift pins. I'm still not sure what causes this wiggling but I have seen it in 10+ cores when I was close to picking control. Perhaps the cores were freightened.
I just realized this same information can be used to force operating as well. It really is just a generic method for altering a mastered lock's binding order.
I leave you with the following haiku advice:
My fork it endlessly plows
The cherry at last
The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...