"Grandad? How does this work?"

Started by Gyppo, June 12, 2024, 12:45:05 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


   I bought a see through 'practise' lock and a basic set of lock picks some time back, for writer's research.  One of my characters I write about  is a skilled lock picker, and she's a locksmith by trade.  I have tried on several occasions but concluded I lack the feel, even though I understand the theory.

   The lock sits on my desk and occasionally I fiddle with it for a while, and my Grandaughter was fascinated to be able to see the pins moving inside the semi-clear case as the key moved in and out.  She loves to learn how things work.

   The other day she was fiddling with it and asked where the picks were.  So I handed them over, two simple picks and a torsion bar, told her the basic theory, and left her to play with it.  After quarter of an hour she seemed to lose interest, but went back to it later after tea and suddenly called out "I've done it!"

   I clicked it shut and told her to do it again, to try and remember what she'd done and how the 'rake' pick felt as it moved the pins.

   She succeeded a few more times but said she still wasn't sure why it had happened.

   I think if she keeps practising eventually her brain will click like the lock, and then she'll know what to feel for when she tries a different lock.

   As my daughter said "I think you've started something here.'

        The lass has  probably watched a few lock picking videos since then.  All I have do now is hope she stays honest.  She's never abused any of the important handful of self-defence things I've taught her, so she probably will.

   Like a lot of things in life, the skill itself is neutral, and can be used for good or bad.  It's down to the character/nature of the person using it.

        It was fascinating to watch her.  Like my youngest girl her face 'turns off' when she's really concentrating on something.  Ordinary everyday thinking and she'll frown or smile with the best of us.  But when she's really focussed she goes 'blank',


Jo Bannister

When I was at the Tech (dear God, more than half a century ago!) we had lockers secured by little combination locks.  My party-piece was walking along the row, opening one after another.  People were astonished and horrified, but actually it was easy.  You don't need to know anything about locks, you just need to know about people.

People wanting access to their locker/shed/bicycle/whatever don't want to spend all day at it: they will always turn the dial the shortest way to reach the number they want.  Ditto with the second dial; ditto...  After they've done this a few dozen times, the dial will be perceptibly stiffer to turn in one direction than the other.  You find where it's stiffest, and dial in the number opposite that point.

You are only to use this information in your books, people, not to start new and more lucrative careers as bank-robbers.  And if you have a combination lock, always turn the dials both ways.


I think Alma's found herself a new challenge 👍 great way to learn patience 😘



I've done a few combination locks.  There was a little git who used to hang around outside the local swimming pool and he took great delight in locking all the bicycles together in a long chain after swapping the locks around.

I don't think there's enough slack in the see-through lock to show her how a thin 'shim' cut from a Pepsi can will bypass all the pins and work directly on the locking point.  Other flavours of shim are available ;-)

What did you learn at tech College, Jo?  Apart from lock picking ;-)

Jo Bannister

Shorthand, typing and basic book-keeping.  There were also English and maths classes, but I already had my O-levels in those.  One of the more useful six months of my life.  It should have been longer, but I got a job on the paper - topped up my shorthand speed at evening classes, and sat my exams in the spring.