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The Oliver Diederichsen Interview

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

The Oliver Diederichsen Interview

About 6 years ago, UK Bump Keys organised an impressioning workshop in London. With special guest lock picking world champions Oliver Diederichsen and Jos Weyers, a group of about 30 lock pickers from all around the UK had the pleasure of watching these two men impression locks in less than a minute! We had a great day learning all kinds of tricks, asking questions and sharpening our skills with this sometimes frustrating but always incredible technique. Oli had just released his groundbreaking book on the subject, simply called 'Impressioning' and it was a day to remember for all who took part.

Apart from a few photographs and a couple of videos, nothing is left from that day besides many great memories. I recently caught up with the enigmatic Mr Diederichsen who was happy to answer a few questions. Predictably, his German sense of humour frequently missed my crude British attempts at comedy, but that didn't stop me trying.

If you're interested in Impressioning, we have some of the best tools available for this amazing technique, including of course, Oliver's book 'Impressioning' - the rest were recommended by Oliver himself. 

Here's the interview:

UK Bump Keys: You're a world class lock picker, famous, with a legendary status in lock picking the world over. You also supply & advise Govenrment and other agencies on physical security. How do you introduce yourself? What is your 'job title'?

ODI would say my job title is 'safe technician and security instructor'. It all came out of the curiosity about lockpicking and locks. I myself would have never ever imagined 15 years ago that I would do this kind of a job today.


UK Bump KeysReaders who haven't met you won't know you've been blessed with shockingly intense Teutonic good looks and a propensity for black clothing, including the classic James Bondesque roll-neck sweater. In short a casual-cat-burglar. This can't be accidental. Do you always dress like you're about to abseil down a lift-shaft and let yourself in via the vaults?

ODI think it's pure chance that you have me only seen wearing black. When I open my wardrobe I see all kind of colours, actually my preferred colour is blue.

UK Bump Keys:How did you become a lock picker, and how did you become a professional Lock worker?

OD:When I thought about my lock interest and where it all came from, I have to say, that my dad planted the seed of interest of lockpicking in me. When I was a boy at the age of approximately eight years old I lost the combination on my bicycle chain lock. He showed me how to open it nondestructively, by just pulling and feeling in seconds. He is not a locksmith, but an engineer and I think he had an understanding how to defeat this lock easily.
It was a cheap one, I was really blasted that this is possible. I also did what locksmiths do every day as a boy. I always forgot my keys at home. 35 years ago in the area where I grew up, people only slammed their door shut without locking the doors. One day nobody was home and I wanted to get in our flat. I went to the caretaker and he showed me how to open the door by just pushing away the latch with a "Z" shaped wire. From this day on I had the wire under the doormat and it saved me a lot of trouble.
In later year, lockpicking was only a hobby. I then worked part-time in the 24hr service in a friends locksmith shop.
From time to time we had requests regarding safe stuff. All the time we had do decline the jobs. I said to my friend "come on let's attend a seminar to learn about safes" . That is what we did and how I got into the trade

UK Bump Keys: You're most known for Impressioning. What attracted you to Impressioning, and what led you to write the book?

OD:When I started lockpicking I often read about impressioning, but for me it was a total secret and I thought it almost impossible to learn. Later I was really curious, when I was a much better lockpicker and a lot more familiar about the weaknesses of physical locks. One day I decided I have to know how impressioning works. As a skilled locksmith you should be able to do all the techniques which the trade requires. When I started my research it was more or less trial and error. I did not find anybody who was able to teach me impressioning. I first read all the books I could find, watched the few clips mostly about car key impressioning and then started myself. In my working progress I realized that much information which had been in the literature printed so far is not completely correct or false .
That brought me to the idea to do a good book about impressioning. I myself learn most, when I have good pictures of the mechanisms or the interior of locks. I thought it is vital to do a book with high quality pictures, where you can learn by almost only looking at the photographs. On my progress in impressioning it is still fascinating for me that the lock reveals its locking secret without doing any damage to it and that you have the working key as a final result. Even after several thousand filed keys the feeling is indescribable when the plug turns with with the impressioned key.

UK Bump Keys: What are the essential tools for the newbie to Impressioning?

OD:There are a few basic things you need, when you want to learn impressioning. Besides the proper technique you need a few basic tools. First of all the key-grip. The key-grip allows you to produce good impressioning marks on the blank key.
My personal opinion is to buy good stuff right from the beginning - you will end up with the proper tools anyway.
A recommendation is the Framon key-grip as it has the advantage that you need no extra tools to clamp the blank key.
The clamping mechanism is all in one. It is a bit heavier than other handles, but that really does not matter.
Next thing is the proper file. I only use round rat-tail files. Maximum thickness 5mm and relatively fine - Swiss cut 4-6, that depends what one likes best.
For everyday impressioning there are several magnifying devices. I myself use very strong reading glasses and good indirect light. At the workplace I have a magnifying lamp with cold light source.That is all you need to start impressioning.

UK Bump Keys: What are the biggest mistakes people learning Impressioning make?

OD: The biggest mistake in producing a key by impressioning is the improper filing technique.
People tend to file in a curve shape movement, it is essential that the file is moved flat over the blank to produce sharp edges in the filing beds. Only these sharp edges allow during the impressioning process the correct interpretation of the impressioning marks.

UK Bump Keys: What is exciting you in the lock picking world at the moment?

OD: I think we are at a turning point right now where the classic mechanical lockpicking techniques merge with the modern production possibilities. That means production processes like wire edm, 3D Printing and scanning, chemical etching etc, became affordable for everybody. The range of available materials steadily got bigger and bigger. I recently got as a present carbon fiber lock picks, which you can really use. No way of getting such stuff a couple of years ago.

UK Bump Keys: What is your greatest achievement in the lock picking world?

OD:My personal highlight was getting impressioning champion and lockpicking champion. With the book, it is available in three languages now ( German, English, French), I brought impressioning back to life. Many people got inspired, did their own research on certain locks and showed that it is possible to attack them with impressioning. I am still learning new stuff about impressioning and I am always happy that I was able to influence modern impressioning a bit.


UK Bump Keys: If you weren't a lock picker - what would you have been?

OD: I think I would have been in a mechanical job like toolmaker, watchmaker, or goldsmith

UK Bump Keys: What football team do you support?

OD: I am not a football fan at all - sorry!

UK Bump Keys: How do you secure your home?

OD: My wife - just kidding - horizontal locking bar over the door with EVVA 3KS cylinders and additional Gemini shield.

UK Bump Keys: Thanks Oli.

You can see all our Impressioning tools HERE.



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