‘Workshop’ (?) idea: locks and lock-picking

Hi all,

I’ve been in hiding, mostly busy with work and playing with locks in my free time. I haven’t been back to the group in a year now, but figured I float an idea I had—

I was thinking of doing a small workshop one evening, teaching the basics about pin-tumbler locks, and demoing the making of a few basic tools. I could supply raw materials as well as a bag of locks to play with; I only don’t have enough files to go around in making said tools.

Is anyone interested in this?



That sounds like an awesome idea! If there’s anything I can do to help (without being their in person - I’m living abroad right now), let me know.

I’d love to come along if it becomes a regular thing by the time I’m back in Canberra :smile:

(: Thanks. If I’m still in CBR, we should make it a thang.

Thought a bit more about this:


Basic intro to lock security, looking almost exclusively at pin-tumbler locks + making some homebrew picks and tension tools for said pin-tumblers. Specifically, I’d like to show how to make a bogotá rake and use it effectively.

I think a 2.5–3hr period would be enough for the workshop.

If we have more time/there is additional interest I can also cover and demo a number of other attacks against pin-tumbler locks (e.g. bumping).


Some folks consider locks a social contract… to some they are a puzzle to be solved (don’t touch other people’s locks!) … but what’s definite is that permeate our lives, and many of them suck.

The idea of this workshop is to look at the security of pin-tumbler locks by learning about them, and then creating two simple tools that exploit a design vulnerability in them. You will get to keep the tools you make.

At the end of the workshop you should be able to better assess the security of pin-tumbler locks on the shelf before buying one, and you may be tickled into playing with locks further. (:


Anyone — no prior experience needed of any kind, and suitable for all ages really.

Things needed

  • various locks — I can supply 20× or so
  • sandpaper (600/800, 1k, 1.2k grit) — probably about 2 sheets of each per person (they’re about 50¢–$1 per sheet)
  • some small half-circle files (≤1cm in width) — pippin or Swiss files ideally (I can’t supply these)
  • bench grinder for initial shaping
  • spring steel — I have plenty of this, at least enough for 30 people
  • 1× vise grip per person — if you have pliers bring them too (can’t supply these) … a vise itself would work too, but I find a vise grip is better.
  • workbench to work on and file against
  • some books to put sandpaper into for easy thinning of the spring steel
  • projector for some diagrams


I think I can keep this really low. At the moment the only main expense is the sandpaper, depending on how we are with numbers of available vise grips and files.


I need help in figuring out how to get enough vise grips, pliers, and files.

I would also like to give some legal information on the legality of lock-picking tools in the ACT and NSW. I know a bit about this, but not enough to give more solid advice — if anyone wants to do this research for me by all means. (:

The other idea I had was to see if any locksmiths in the area would be forthcoming in attending/giving advice/… (I highly doubt it — the physical sec industry has, IMHO, a strong security-through-obscurity mindset), but hey, might be worth trying?

Otherwise: feedback? Am I missing anything?

If anyone would like to see a demo of the above-mentioned tool in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yll_5GjVfw

Follow-up workshop idea/note to self: taking apart a lock, taking the top pins and sticking them into a dremel, and using a fine file to cut groves (improvised lathe… what could possibly go wrong) to make home-made security pins (stuff you pay big $$$ for) and then re-pinning the lock, all to still match the same working key as before. (:

Just wanted to jump on and say I’m super keen to learn to make and use a pick set.

+1, I’m interested :slight_smile:

Having had a quick intro from Pascal the other day, I’m keen to attend the workshop and learn more.


Contacted ASI to see if they would be interested in coming on the night — understandably, since this is happening w/o security licenses and such, they can’t. Fair ’nuff. I suspect other locksmiths will have similar inclinations.

Brenda pointed me to the wiki to take a look at a previous workshop suggestions like this. I found one archived item — can someone point me to the member’s email address so I can touch base with them? (I tried via the wiki but I may be n00bing it up.)

Finally, I’ve been experimenting and found a lot of the initial shaping of the spring steel can be achieved using a bench grinder. We will still need a good half-circle file for cleaning up and final shaping. I’ve amended the list of things needed to include a grinder — I presume the space has one?

yes. The space has a bench grinder.


So, I wanna touch base with the chap who previously wanted to do a workshop, but otherwise, I think we’re relatively set. A trip down to Bunnings or something would be in order to fetch a couple of half-circle files — participants will just have to share. This’d raise the cost per person to ~$10 I think, and the space can keep the files afterwards.

I’m happy to do this on either a weekday in the evening, or, anytime really on a weekend. That said, it’s probably more conducive to just throw a few dates & times out there and see who can attend:

  1. Sat. June 20th, 11:00–
  2. Sun. June 21st, 11:00–
  3. Thurs, June 25th, 18:30–


I’d be very keen for this, sounds interesting. I’d vote for #3 out of those
date options.

Sounds good, count me in. Personally I’m happy with any of those dates.

Can I get a response from the others who expressed their interest in this workshop above — keen to just set a date and try do this. (:

[Actually have a large vinegar bath set up currently to clean up the broken street sweeper bristles I use as the base material for the rakes.]


+1 for me too. Happy to help out with building tools too.

Any of those dates are ok for me. Slight preference for a weekend one.

The Thursday night sounds great to me

Yes, I am interested. Jack.

FYI, 25th evening is CLUG night which I like to attend and may matter to others.

@eyal thanks for letting me know.

I think pushing it out to the weekend after (27th or 28th — next weekend) is the next best date.

I propose 11:00 start on the 27th atm. If I don’t get objections I’ll ink this in.