One profession that has always mystified filmmakers, authors, and fans of secret agent movies worldwide is the job of a locksmith. The profession requires a very specialized skillset, and, in brief, it encompasses designing, installing, fixing, and picking lock systems. Someone with a reputation for the skill can make a name for himself and earn a very comfortable living doing this high-demand job.
A locksmith will usually build his or her aptitude through apprenticeship or self-study and gain clients via word of mouth. Before any of this happens, the learner will need to acquire a few basic tools. These five pieces of equipment will take the apprentice through the learning process and serve as a foundation for more expert work.
1. Plug Spinner
This is the most basic tool for the job, used by everyone from total beginners to seasoned experts. In brief, the plug spinner is used to go manually into the cylinder, lift, rotate, and push the plug back in order to set it to the neutral, unlocked position. Using this tool is the best way for a beginner to start, as it requires the specialist to learn the basic components of a lock.
2. Electric Pick Gun
If plug spinners were to be compared to a manual handsaw, these are the electric chainsaws of lock picking. This device is essentially a very narrow electric drill, and it’s extremely efficient for getting things to open quickly and effectively. Basically, the locksmith fits it into the cylinder and turns it on. The gun then forces the pins open and the plug back.
3. Computerized Pick
For more complex systems like combination pads and safes, a small computer is used. The specific design can vary based on its function, and it can be quite complex. To put it briefly, this computerized system is used to reconfigure the system of pins inside the cylinder, thereby unlocking it.
4. Tension Wrench
This is another more basic design, and professionals generally turn to it before any other electrical systems are used. The device’s shape is that of a flattened, curved rod, one end of which is placed inside the lock. They come in several different types for different degrees of tension and are used to apply torque to a plug in order to move pins and keep them in place while working. Once the plug is pushed back, the same tool turns the fixture.
5. Key Extractor
Occasionally, a locksmith will get a call about a key that’s snapped in two, with one half stuck inside a lock cylinder. In this case, a key extractor is used. This tool can be shaped like either a very narrow set of tweezers or a narrow, curved pin that fits inside the cylinder, making it easy to pull out the lost half of the key.
With these basic, fairly inexpensive tools in hand, an aspiring locksmith can begin working, though there are many other, more advanced pieces of equipment that can be used for more specialized jobs.