Making Lock Pick tools


Lock picks need to be made from a good quality stainless steel or spring steel.  Fortunately there are readily available sources of spring steel, if you know where to look.  Wilkinson car wiper blades contain two strips of good quality stainless spring steel at £1.63 each. The longest one I have seen in stock is the 22".  This strip is 2.48 mm wide and 0.83mm thick, which is too narrow for most picks and rakes, but ideal for tension tool's, broken key extracters etc..

Another source is the coiled drain un-blocker.  Not quite as good quality as the wind screen wiper strips, but they are  4.82 mm wide and  0.83 mm thick.

An excellent, readily available material is senior hacksaw blades and they are very popular for making picks and rakes. 

The above steels are very hard and have to be ground to shape, using a bench grinder or a Dremel type tool.  The Dremel is excellent for finishing and polishing the finished tools, but a small bench grinder is faster for roughing out the shapes on the blades. Argos sell a suitable bench grinder for under £15, with both a coarse and fine grinding wheel. 


Pick Profiles.

A wide range of pick profiles can be downloaded from the Internet and the business end looks  something like these .....

Each design of pick has a name, and from left to right they are  round, half round, double round (snowman), double half round, large half diamond, small half diamond, short hook, long hook. "W", snake, saw, saw, broken key extractor, inclined half diamond (larger) inclined half diamond (small).  As previously covered is the famous BogotŠ rake ...

A good starting set would be the popular half diamond, a short hook and a BogotŠ rake. If I were to add one more it would be the snake rake.  So it is possible to make a good starter set out of two hacksaw blades.  I would advise you to subscribe to the Lockpicking101 web site forum. They have a very wide range of free templates at ..

It is a very good source for information an any aspect of lock picking.


Preparing the blank.

Print out the profile you want to use (including the handle) and glue it onto the hacksaw blade using a glue stick. Be generous with the glue because we will be dipping the blade into water and we don't want it to drop off.


The bench grinder.

I have a large 8" bench grinder, but the wheels are worn so I decided to buy a new 6" bench grinder from Argos for £14.99, because I deserved it !. It has the usual coarse and fine wheels. It also has four flat rubber feet which stops it walking around the bench during grinding.

Warning !. Always wear goggles when grinding. Check that the gap between the tool rest and the wheel does not exceed the figure given in the instructions. Make sure there is nothing flammable near the grinder.

You will also need a small container of cold water for cooling down the metal  you are grinding because if you allow it to get too hot, it will anneal the metal and soften it. 



The aim is to grind the blade down to the profile printed on the paper profile. Let the stone do the work, and do not press too hard. Take extra care to make sure that the work does not slip between the rest and the wheel.  Every so often dip the metal you are grinding in the water to cool it. Rough out on the coarse wheel and finish off using the fine wheel. At this stage the pick will still have rough edges.



The next stage is most easily done by using a fine stone in a Dremel type rotary tool. The aim is to take off all of the rough edges.  Look at the examples on the video's.  When the pick is a smooth as you can get it, the next stage is to polish it to a mirror finish using very fine emery cloth or a buffing wheel and polishing compound.


What are you waiting for ?. Go open some locks !.





24th January 2010.

Everyone seems to make a set of picks out of hacksaw blades, so I did some today. Still have to give them a final polish.

Left to right. Small modified 'W' rake. BogotŠ rake, Large modified 'W' rake, large half diamond, small half diamond, bent diamond, short hook and a broken key extractor. Also two tension tools. I have also started a set of medium size jigglers, as I want to see how they perform on padlocks. If they work, I will probably make up a set of mini jigglers, as well as a full size set.

I am not too happy with that style of tension wrench, because I am never sure if it is binding on the cylinder wall, so I want to make up some that fit into the lower part of the keyway, so I am thinking along the lines of the lower half of a 'gypsy' picking key. I have to make up one for the test rig anyway and I have a couple of old  Yale Y2 keys, so it is just a matter of sawing them in half, along their length, at the bottom of the second ward. That will also give me a nice flat reference surface, to work the test rig electro pick on


25th January 2010

My mini size jigglers,  not polished yet. Full size jigglers are about three inches long whereas, the mini size is about two inches long. Micro jigglers are about  1.5" long I will be adding to this bunch as I get bored.  I really must start on the test jig.


Today's mystery 'invention'.  Actually I made my first one about 25 years ago and never used it !



31st January.

Decided to make up a standard size set of jigglers, this time out of stainless steel, which is awful stuff to cut or grind. I found the way to do it is to grind several at the same time, giving each a quick grins and then moving on to the next to allow the metal to cool down.  If the metal gets too hot, two things happen, the glue melts and the paper profile falls off and also too much heat will scorch the paper and you can't see where you are supposed to be grinding anymore. What about the container of water to quench with ?.  Try it and you will find the paper profile floats away !.

The full size jigglers against the medium sized ones I made earlier. 


The six rake keys and four bump keys have arrived .... and that is all I can say about them at the moment. I  have not yet made a hammer for the bump keys.



1st February 2010.

Started a set of Ward keys. Not sure if I have much faith in any of them !.  I strengthened the combined lock and letter box mock up and added the flap. Also turned up four Delrin bearings for the Mark 1  letter box, door opener tool.  The remote lock / letter box tool will be of a completely different design. It has all been done before, by others.  A quick efficient letter box tool makes sense, because lots of people do get locked out and access to such a tool replaces the need for 50 years of experience in hand picking the lock. The economic compromise is to drill the lock. A locksmith's time is expensive, so if a quick attempt to gain entry does not work, it becomes economically viable to drill the lock, thereby destroying it and replacing it with a new one, which may only cost about four pounds ... with four spare keys, against the locksmiths call out charge that could amount to £100, for a simple lock-out. The cowboys will also come along and drill and replace the same lock for lots of money, but will they do the job right, how much damage will they cause  and will they keep one of your spare keys ?.  The fact is that you can trust nothing and no one. Even the lock companies who sell you "security",  offer nothing that cannot be compromised or bypassed. Security is an illusion.  That does not just apply to you and me, but also to  the very highest levels downwards.


2nd February 2010.

Must do something about the lighting as these are quite shinny in real life  !. Looks like I have missed one as well. Again I don't think I will ever use these, but they will be in the tool box, just in case.

Also made up a Peterson type pick for decoding combination locks. It simply consists of a very thin blade (0.2mm), that can be inserted by the side of each combination wheel to 'feel' when a correct number has been selected (a notch appears, that the tip of the blade senses). It can also be used to raise the detent plate on combination locks, thus bypassing the lock. Shown actual size

If you buy a set of feeler gauges from a pound shop, you can make a set of all different thick nesses.