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Lock pick sets - a beginners guide

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

Hello there!

So you've made your decision and you want to start lock picking. With all the lock pick sets available, I understand it can be a bit confusing where to start. So I've put together this little blog to help you make the right decision. Hold tight, here we go!

This guide is for pin cylinder type locks, often called 'Yale Locks' due to the popularity of the Yale brand.

The first thing you need is a lock pick set - the actual picks that do the magic. There's a few varieties, but first, let's look at the different techniques, so we can exclude some items. Here's the basic techniques:

While all of these are great for the newbie, I'm going to concentrate on the first two, Single Pin Picking (SPP) and raking, as these are probably the best to start with. SPP is lock picking proper, it#s the one you'll know from movies and You Tube where you put a wrench in the lock and insert a picking tool. Both raking and SPP can be done with the same picks, although some sets have dedicated rakes, which improve on normal picks for this job. If you're new to picking I;d advise on of the following lock pick sets:

Dangerfield's Custom SouthOrd Lock Pick Set

All of these have a good variety of quality picks, rakes and tension tools.

Now you want a lock to learn with. I suggest you don't use a lock you use in the real world - like your front door lock. It's rare that you'll damage a lock, but if you did it could cost you £100's to get it repaired, not the best start! We supply a variety of practice locks, including some high security dimple practice locks, but for now, I'd suggest one of the following:


Clear Practice Lock

Both of these are designed with the beginner in mind. The Clear Lock is great because you can see the top pins and springs, essentially letting you know what's happening in the lock when you insert your picks. Knowledge is power and this is a superb way to learn the art of lock picking. The No Surprises lock is exactly that. You could buy a 2nd hand 'real' lock, but if it has security pins (which you can't see from outside) or there's a bit of damage, you'll never know - you'll just get frustrated when you're trying to learn. The No Surprises lock is an easy lock to pick, that won't catch you out with and is perfect for beginners. Getting both would be ideal, a clear lock to learn the technique, the No Surprises lock to try your new skills out.

Now you need to learn the techniques. There's 1000's of videos about lock picking online, Single Pin Picking and Raking is covered in depth on You Tube. However, I prefer something a bit more tactile, that will give me a thorough understanding of the variety of locks and lock picks available. How they work, common mistakes and solutions. People on You Tube (understandably) like to show their skills in the best light possible, which doesn't always help the beginner as they need to know what to do when it's not working. No one wants to get frustrated, so the correct information, well written and clearly presented is ideal. We have this fantastic book, which is now in it's 3rd printing:

A Visual Guide to Lock Picking Book

Now you're ready to start picking locks! However, there's a couple of things you could add to make things a lot easier. I've listed a couple of accessories here and a few words about them. If you're looking to treat yourself - or someone else - a couple of extras 

Dedicated Lock Picking Vice

You can pick locks in your hand, and many do. But the time will come when you need a vice because picking a lock in your hand is NOTHING like picking a lock set into a door, and you'll develop loads of bad-habits which are then difficult to unlearn! This lovely little lock pickers vice is designed to hold pin cylinder (yale-type) locks without any hassle. Normal vices have the wrong type of grips to hold locks and they move and slip out - literally the last thing you want when trying to learn how to pick locks! A dedicated lock picker's vice is a great item to help you get the most out of your lock pick set.

Our work mat is designed for people wanting to repin locks, but it;s perfect for anyone picking locks, it will keep all your tools in one place, not rolling away and possibly getting damaged or lost. It turns any worktop into your work place, keeping you focussed and tidy.

Some additional rakes is a great idea for the beginner because raking is easier than single pin picking.Getting results early is good for morale, and raking will certainly get quick results. The more rakes you have, the more quick results you'll get. Have a look at these lock rake sets that will compliment and lock pick set you have.

Dangerfield's Bogota Lock Rakes

So there you go. A quick recap so you know where to start: My advice is as follows. The essentials are:

  • A Lock Pick Set
  • A Practice Lock
  • The lock picking Book

And if you want to add a bit of style and depth:

  • Lock Picking vice
  • Lock Picking Mat
  • Additional Lock Picking Rakes

So, if you want skills in this amazing art of lock picking, you're ready to go. And then there's bumping, pick-guns, bypassing, impressioning and a whole lot more to learn! If you have any questions, or require further advice, don't hesitate to contact me, I'll make sure you get all the assistance you need. Take care. 

Wave Rakes and LOADS of locks they opened!

Chris Dangerfield.


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