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Published on November 6th 2014

Lock picking

This blog usually talks about geeky attractions but I went along to a fantastic lock picking event that I simply had to share!

So turns out that lock picking isn’t as shady a thing as it’s made out to be in the movies! It’s an actual hobby and some people even take it to a competitive level! The main reason I went was mostly to learn how to pick my own door should I get locked out. But oh the temptations! More on that later…

I arrived on time, 7pm on the nose, to a chilly building, which had no electricity at the time. Nonetheless, the two boys with big hair were super friendly and after getting the electricity back on, I was given a little tour of the workshop rooms.

Now I must admit I thought it was just going to be me and these two guys and a lady who heads up the Girl Geek Up group picking locks in a cold room. But I was pleasantly surprised when more people started to trickle in over the rest of the evening.
lock picking group Birmingham

And eventually the much anticipated Nigel arrived.

Now Nigel was the key person (excuse the pun) of the meet up we’d been waiting for. He arrived with a big box of lock picking tools in a red T-shirt that had “#Lockcon14″ printed on the front. So there are lock smith conventions. Who knew!

lock picking tool box

Nigel began by explaining a short history of locks, how they used to be made of wood and even bought in an example of a wooden lock which he made the weekend before to demonstrate how a wooden key would have worked.

Lock picking event speaker- Nigel
After the explanation, it was time to put the theory to the test. And we were given one pin locks (the easiest/most unsecure locks) to pick.

Beginner lock picking- See through lock

Basically, locks can have any number of pins inside it that need to be pushed out of the way to release the catch. The bumpy bits on a key serve to push pins in a lock out the way so you can turn the mechanism.

Me picking the clear lock

I had a bit of trouble holding the tools correctly but luckily I sat next to Peter who seemed to know what he was doing. Peter taught me how to hold the pick and tension to correctly and after a bit of poking, presto I picked my first lock!

After picking the one pin lock twice, Nigel gave us two pin locks and then three pins and so on and so forth.

all the locks I picked

Now let me tell you about Peter.

While I got stuck picking five pin locks, this guy was blazing through all of them within mere seconds. Every lock Nigel threw at him, peter could pick with a couple of quick wiggles.


Then he was given a monster of a lock. “Hardly anyone, apart from me, can pick this one, because there’s a secret pin hidden in the bottom somewhere.” Peter took the lock and started going at it, occasionally shaking out his fingers and rubbing them together to warm them up. After a good 20 minutes, he succeeded. “I can’t believe it..” we all exclaimed.

Peter explains

And it came to light that peter was a lock smith in Hong Kong and had been picking locks for over 20 years. He even had his own lock company and people consulted him for lock designs..! “Why did you sit there and let me show you how to pick a one pin lock?!” Asked Nigel, “it’s good to practice..” Replied Peter.

The lock picking event was organised by Fizzpop (a not-for-profit who hires out work shop space for art and DIY projects), and takes place every second Wednesday of the month. I highly recommend going along to one and learning this useful niche skill!

Rea Studios
90 Floodgate Street
Birmingham B5 5SR

Free street parking for those who plan to drive!

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One Response to Lock picking

  1. Lock picking is super cool. With the competitions, are they so the people can see the tumblers while the person picking cannot? I feel if that was a viable possibility, that would be the best way to watch it.

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