If you don't already know Raf, and you're into picking locks, you really should. He is a wonderful man, a great friend and an absolute wizard with lock picking - especially dimple locks, and especially the Mul-T-Locks that come from his homeland, Israel.
I first met Raf on the UK Bump Keys forum 10 long years ago (ah, they were the days!) and he's been a friend ever since, always there for technical advice and for knowing things no one should know! I caught up with him last week and true to form he agreed to provide an interview for our shop. So, lock pickers, sit back and enjoy, Raf, the dimple lock king!
Raf in his Locksmith shop in Israel
UKBUMPKEYS: The big question - certainly among people who have spoken to you - is why does an Israeli locksmith have a cockney accent?
RAF: Well my mother is from Kilburn, North London. She left England when I was very young but there's a big British community in Israel and I found myself spending hours at the British embassy library. Also, all of my friends were from the UK. We also had newspapers, TV shows, and cassettes from the UK so it was like growing in England, but in a different country.
UKBUMPKEYS: When did you first become interested in locks and what was the first lock you picked?
RAF: I was working with a very respected locksmith and from time to time people would call and ask if he can open locks without damaging them (as they where part of master key systems and had many keys, etc). He always turned those jobs down as he never had a pick in is life! I remember thinking to myself that a man was sent to the moon and it's impossible that you cant open a lock without drilling it! I then went searching for aid on the internet and luckily a new forum had started, it was called 'UK Bump Keys' LOL!
UKBUMPKEYS: What's your favourite type of lock picking and what's your favourite lock?
RAF: I make my living out of locks and since I Iive in 'dimple lock country' (Israel) dimples are my thing, never the less I have a huge collection of locks form all over the world, plus tools. My favourite locks are EVVA 3KS which is the most pleasant lock I know, it just feels good to put the key in. Abloy are also at the top and there are some others such Fichat 3D and some very good lever locks.
EVVA 3KS Lock cut-away
UKBUMPKEYS: What advice would you give to a lock picking newbie?
RAF: To start picking with cut-away locks, this will save you hours of pain (or pleasure depending how you see it!)
UKBUMPKEYS: As a working locksmith, what's your biggest professional disaster?
RAF: I did all the wrong things in the book! Cutting keys the other way around, killing locks and the door, but I NEVER walked out of a job even when other locksmith was called. I stayed there to learn. I once spent 30 hours picking a door lock that was open, lol.
Raf with Dutch Lock supremo Han Fey and a rather large Mul-T-Lock!
UKBUMPKEYS: If you could have dinner with 3 people (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
RAF: Beside you Chris, (editor: oh dear!) it would be Han Fey, John Falle, and Suggs form Madness.
UKBUMPKEYS: What else does Raf do for fun?
RAF: Well I'm not allowed to bring locks into my house now so I read 2 or 3 books a week.
Raf's workshop. Tidy shop, tidy mind!
UKBUMPKEYS: Why do you have such a problem with the Mighty Arsenal FC?
RAF: Well I do have some bad memories from Arsenal ,as a kid they use to bore the hell out me, but since they were local I did go to see them a few times. Like many other football clubs in England at the time the was an issue with racism. Although not typically against Jews, but towards the Indian community that were starting shops in London. Arsenal do have character though, and after Chelsea, I don't mind them winning!
Raf's promo video about his shop and his life - give it a watch!
Thanks Raf! You can (and if you're into Lock Picking, you really should) visit Raf's EXCELLENT website, there's LOADS of tips, tricks, videos and advice about all types of lock picking. See it all HERE!
Keep an eye out for more interviews and blogs here every week!