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Learning about locksmithing



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Posts: 316

Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:58 am

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Post Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:12 am

Learning about locksmithing

I want to know how did you guys get into locksmithing or what turned you on to locks.

For me it was studying magic and learning about Houdini. I wanted to be Houdini and when I read we was a locksmith apprentice and was able to pick locks that the locksmith who hired him couldn't, I wanted to be him.

So I went to Hollywood Magic but only after watching an episode of AMW where unfortunately they showed a criminal who knew magic and would make cigarettes disappear and reappear. I wanted to learn then trick so bought the trick at this store and also bought a book on picking locks.

Later I learned of a locksmith school at Abram Friedman Occupation Center while I was attending LA Trade Tech for a Business Administation major.

The school told me they don't teach picking locks and if I still wanted to attend. I did and the rest if history so to speak.

My first two locksmith jobs never lasted more than a year. I was working with crazy bosses that stressed me out and I always quit.

I then worked as bike patrol for more than 10 years but kept my locksmith license up and wanted to do locksmith work.

So finally I found a locksmith company near my bike patrol job and secured it.

I worked both jobs for 3 years, working a total of 80 hours per week.

Now we lost our bike account and today will be my last day working bike patrol.

Fortunately I'm going to get interviews for a locksmith job that pays more.

God willing, I will get the job!

You leave my GRAPHITE alone!!!


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Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:05 am

Location: Arizona, United States

Post Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Learning about locksmithing

Am not a professional locksmith, but wanted to say "Good luck" to you, CLH. :)

I have always been interested in mechanical things. Having a natural eye for looking at something and being able to figure out how it works enriches my life.

Have always been fascinated with locks, wanting to know everything I could find out about how locks work. Was surprised when I was a young kid when I learned that not all locks worked the same way. The challenge of opening locks always made me happy. Started taking apart locks and seeing how they work. Was even able to work out several bypasses on my own. This was decades before the Internet existed, and books along those lines were practically non-existent unless you were a part of that industry.

What I wouldn't have given to have this resource back then. Lucky kids!

Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.


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Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:35 am

Location: Arizona

Post Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:27 pm

Re: Learning about locksmithing

Good luck CLH.

I was a truck driver for United Rentals in Northern Arizona and got laid off. It was a huge blow to be making really good money in that area and then nothing. I was out of work for a while, no one wanted to hire me because they couldn't come close to the wages I was making before. I was out for close to a year when I got a phone call from a friend who said he knew of a locksmith company who needed someone to do car openings during the day.

After talking to the owner of the company we worked out how much I would make per car and I hung around the shop for a while. They had a locksmith who worked at a casino during the day and ran the rekey jobs at night and on weekends.

I started asking about learning on the job and almost immediately got a yes. I started learning little things here and there and the next thing I know the real locksmith quit. I was in a van all of a sudden running calls.

The couple that owned that company were insane. Certifiable. I put in 2 years there and I couldn't take it anymore I quit. A short stint at another company nearby and got laid off from there.

My friend had moved to Mesa AZ and offered to put me and my son up while I looked for a job, I was there 4 days when I was running out of money and went home frustrated. Five minutes after I got home I got a phone call to come in for an interview. The person on the other end even offered me $100 to come down to cover my expenses. The next day I made the trip again. On my resume I put that I had taught myself small format pinning. I was given the cuts and told to pin it up. I got the job and I have been there ever since. I will probably die working g for this company.

I now run an account managing the physical security for 128+ grocery stores in the state. All this in 6 years time.


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Location: Houston, Texas

Post Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:39 pm

Re: Learning about locksmithing

I, too, began out of an interest in magic. I also wanted to do everything I read that Houdini did. When I started studying locks, they became more fascinating to me. While my friends were buying candy, toys, and the like, with their allowance and other-earned money, I was buying locks. When I was about 11 years old, I started to take them apart; and I taught myself several bypasses, and how to pick the locks.

I took a correspondance course, when I was 17, from the Locksmithing institute, in Little Falls, NJ. I started taking the Lockmasters safe lock manipulation course, as I entered college (Thought I should have something to "fall back on", so I decided to study Math and Physics). After three semesters of college, I found a locksmith shop in Lafayette, IN. I asked if they could use an apprentice. The owner handed me a lock in a baggie (Yes, customers DO bring them in like that!). It was a Schlage wafer tumbler knob lock, one that literally had become a real hobby of mine. I was so familiar with its design, that I had assembled it in about two minutes, AND set it to the key that was also in the bag.

I got the apprenticeship, and my career as a locksmith began! I never looked back.

I also perform some kick-ass magic, as I never gave up the interest in it.
Nemo Malus Felix


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Location: Arizona U.S.A. Planet Earth

Post Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:03 pm

Re: Learning about locksmithing

I started doing magic at age 7 and still doing it now. Learned handcuff escapes using a very small safety pin opening Smith & Wesson cuffs in double locked mode behind my back. My parents figured I is well on my way to prison. Was at the fun shop every weekend both Sat and Sun bugging the semi famous magician Jack Southerland that worked there to show me more and more. Made my first pick from windshield wiper blade at age 8 it worked on anything I tried it on. Parents really enjoyed that.

At 19 I went to the best lock shop at the time here in Phoenix Az to see if I could get a job. The owner told me he don't have time for on the job training but if I will go to Calif to a locksmith school in center of LA and can stick it out with the toughest teacher known at the time I can come back and get the job. There was 39 students when It started and the teacher was so tough in a few months there was only 12 that was left. That teacher was Jerry Finch some may have heard of him. When he left that teaching job he became head of the removable core division of Falcon/Weiser and also worked designing pins kits for Lab.

Going to that school learning from Jerry Finch was the best move I could have made. They also didn't teach lock picking at that school. But after a while Finch took me aside and handed me a bag with a Best removable core mortise cyld with regular working key. Told me how the core comes out the front if it is picked at the control level. I said well how does that happen. He drew a basic picture of how I could make a tension wrench that would grip the small holes in the bottom of the core. Didn't think much about it being difficult. Took it to my apt and made the classically now seen tension wrench soon found it needed to be made carefully and accurately and then seen it needed to be secured in the keyway by wedging a second thin wrench to keep it from slipping out of the holes. After about an hour I got it picked figured it was just at the regular level but only turned a short way then thought humm pulled up on it and it came out! I left the tension wrenches in the core with it picked put it all back in the bag. Took it to school handed it to him he had a look of shock on his face. I said what? He told me he has given that core to so many for many years and nobody including himself has ever got it out. I said ok didn't think it was any big deal. He then asked if I would make him a wrench like the one I used, I said you can have that one. It turned out he showed that wrench to all the AOLA classes when he taught removable core classes for ALOA. I was the top student in no time and he told the lock shop owner this guy is hell on wheels and you would be very lucky to have him work for you. Nobody was doing SFIC cores back then so I was the one that was the go to guy for that. If I never had went to that school and met Jerry Finch I don't think I would have become a locksmith just would have wanted to.

Learning on the job by people that are great at what they do is the best way to learn the trade. If you can get a jump start going to any school I highly suggest it as then you have the foundation of all the basics then get a job.

The owner of the lock shop was Jim Mullany here in Phoenix Arizona he was high up in charge of teaching foreign cars, opening and key making along with Jerry Finch that taught many different classes with Associated Locksmiths Of America certification classes. So I was very lucky to have had the chance to know and work with them both. They are both no longer with us now but not forgotten.

Don't know any of this will help anyone but that's how I did it.

"Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand."
Kurt Vonnegut

DIY Dave

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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:26 am

Location: Indiana

Post Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:00 am

Re: Learning about locksmithing

I've always been interested in locks and keys. As a kid, I played with keys and I always knew what every single key went to. I used to wear my dad's work uniform shirts and pretend I was a locksmith.

When I was around 12 I became very interested in how locks worked, and read some locksmithing books from the library and looked for any lock information I could find. I printed out a photo of lockpicks and used it as a template on a piece of scrap metal to make a lockpick. The first lock I ever picked was a Master number 1 when I was 12. The next was our kwikset deadbolt on our front door. I was so excited. Before long, I had bought a Master 140 and learned to pick spool pins in it. After a while I lost some interest.

My senior year of highschool, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a career, so I decided I would be a locksmith. I went full force into studying locks and learning anything I could. After graduation, I took the Foley Belsaw course, which was somewhat helpful.

For the next several months I searched for an apprenticeship in locksmithing, sending resumes all over the state. I finally found one, and I've been with the company ever since. Eventually I want to own my own locksmithing company, and have employees of my own.

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