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How I came to lockpicking

February 18, 2017 Technical Ben Zucker


The following text I actually wrote as base script for a YouTube video where I talk a little about the how and why I do lockpicking. Well, I never made the video and this text has already been published with a pseudonym in the context of competition at the “Lock Labs Lock Picking Stories” section.
Though it is still my story and as I recently got a few questions about that I decided to revisit this.
Also including a few lots of fixes. Have fun reading.

In the beginning there was YouTube

I just wanted to talk a little about the reasons and what my motors are to do lockpicking as well as the story how this hobby evolved. This will not be a picking video so if you are not interested in a guy prating around you may now switch to another video.

The first contact I had with lockpicking was purely by accident when I stumbled upon a video from a guy called himself Bosnianbill. The first thing that caught my attention was the quality of the video. The video had high resolution and Bill’s voice was loud, clear and easy to understand (I am German by the way) even though I think my English is something about high school degree.

Anyway. The other thing that surprised and fascinated was how easy and quick it seems to open a lock. I have no idea whatsoever what particular video the first one was. It’s just a pure guess when I say it was something funny about Master Lock.
I continued watching his videos, dozens, hundreds. And I learned so much about locks, how they work and how the look inside. I had no clue before how a lock works and never thought about. I just knew that when you put the key in and turn, it will open for me. If you use the wrong key it either does not fit or does not open the lock. That’s it.

And at some point I was asking myself how secure the locks are that I face every day. At the same time the bicycle of my (upcoming wife has been stolen… actually the second time and this time I wanted to know how and why. Surprisingly we found the bicycle lock which was a moderate cheap one made from steel mesh wire. Obviously the thief did not pick it, he broke it.
Through the videos I knew locks can be opened destructively as well and if you are no complete dumbass you search for the weak link. In this case it was the surrounding case around the adapter.
After watching about a about five hundred videos I knew that these lock do not provide good security against thieves. They are too easy to be cut or broken and maybe also be raked. It was a wafer lock by the way.

My first pickset

Several months later I was addicted in such a way that I decided to get a lockpick kit myself. But which one? I am a guy that say when I start something, I do it for real. This of course bears also the risk to not have fun with a hobby and have spent a lot of money. So I wavered between a cheap beginner kit or a professional kit with custom contents. From the videos I knew the advantages and disadvantages of various picks and tension tools and lot of kits had stuff that will probably never be used. At some point I found a shop called spooXe. If you frequently watch Bill’s videos you know this name from the German nuclear fallout shelter hand towel lock pick cases. Later more about that story.
The kit that caught my attention was called the lockpick set SPC one and that time I got it for 95 Euros including hand polished finish for all picks. Yes, I am lazy but meanwhile I have my own sandpaper in various grits. I think the price has been raised since then but if you are interested anyways I will put a link to it in the video description.

The kit basically included everything that I would like to have. A bogota rake, a standard and a deep hook, twisted tension wrenches with long and short end, a set of pry bars and a set of the SSDeV hooks. In addition I also bought a short and a steep hook in 0.015 thousandths of an inch because European locks usually have a way more restrictive and narrow keyways.
When I received it in the mail I was really proud of. Everything was so beautiful and shiny. The same day I also ordered a set of four cheap Master Lock padlocks from eBay. And that is basically where I began to practically start lock picking.

It is fun

Weeks and month after I picked several euro cylinders from different brands like BKS, ABUS, WILKA, BASI or DOM as well as a bunch of Burg Wächter, ABUS and noname padlocks. Took quite a while but the skill you develop increases with every picked lock. For some reason I contacted Bosnianbill and told him a little about a new blood lockpicker, showed him the case and my box of already picked stuff.
The most important things that came back as answer were that he was interested in a bulk trade of the picked euro cylinders and he also was interested in the pick case. As stated my picks came from spooXe and they came in the small version of these fallout shelter cases. So I answered him how they are made and where to get them. And then, well, the tribe got Frank from spooXe a bit in trouble by cleaning out the store and ordering hundreds of these cases. He stated on the shop’s website he probably needs to sew 24/7 for a week to complete all the cumulative orders. That was pretty cool.

Stuff from the United States

While the tribe was overwhelming Frank with orders my parcel to the United States has been arrived and Bill sent me a parcel in exchange. Even though there were quite some issues with the customs authorities I was very happy to own now various American Lock brand padlocks, two heavy Master Locks (not the cheap ones), and an absolutely beautiful old YALE padlock as well as some other stuff like Medeco or a Shurgard disc lock.

In conclusion I have to say lockpicking is really fun. The only disadvantage is that you always have to explain people asking, that this hobby has absolutely nothing to do with crime. I ask them how many burglars they saw in the news that actually picked a lock to get into someone’s house. The answer is zero. Also how many bikes were stolen by picking the bicycle lock? The answer is also almost zero. Thieves do not have time to pick locks. They want to be fast and if you or me use locks that comply a minimum standard of security your stuff will not be stolen that easy.

By the way, I bought for her bicycle a real lock. With a heavy badass chain and disc detainer lock with ball bearings. Because for now I am tired of always getting out and search for her lost bike. Just kidding, love you.

Well, you made it. Hope you liked it.

By the way at this time I do the finishing of my picks by myself 😉