Lock picking is the new knitting

by Rich Gibson

A friend of mine is a metal fabricator and musician. He's recently taken up lock picking, or 'Steel Bolt hacking' in the hip lexicon.

He had a contractor working on his house. They got along well, and the contractor was sympathetic to the financial difficulties of owning a house. One day he brought over a box of locks. He said that locks were expensive, but if you learned to pick locks you could go to the construction surplus supply yard and get high quality locks for cheap...just a couple of bucks, but without keys.

If you could pick the lock you can open it up, and rekey it.

The fellow also loaned Tom some tools. Tom took to it and promptly fabricated new picks and tension bars (torque bars?). And tonight after we'd chatted for a bit about nice things he sprung his surprise on me, with an overly casual 'oh, by the way, I've been messing around with lock picking.'

How F....g Cool! My jaw dropped. Tom is emphatically not a computer person, but considering the extremely diverse Call for Papers for the upcoming What the Hack conference in the Netherlands I promptly invited him.

Plus I watched carefully. I learned how to rake a lock, and was able to open a Yale padlock and a Schlage Deadbolt.

It was great!

Tom still had the original borrowed pick manufactured by a 'professional.' I tried it out, and realized that it was fundamentally inferior to the pick that Tom had fabricated. Primarily because of the handle. The 'store bought' pick had a thin handle that wanted to flip in my fingers. Tom's pick has a nice solid handle that offers better control.

I have some notes on how he fabricated his picks, and perhaps I will be able to replicate his design.

So Tom got a call from a musician who was a hero to us when we were in High School. He played me the message. He wanted Tom to play a studio session, which Tom was excited to do. He took his practice locks and picks in order to relax between songs. The musician commented that "Lock picking was the new knitting."

Speak and the world wanders by, remain silent and, uh, well the metaphor broke down, sorry.


2006-11-23 05:59:00
You should read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay - it's about an escape artist who learns the art of lock picking.