Waffer Reading

11/12/2014 10:06

boise-locksmith-fordAs a locksmith technician, throughout the years in the field, I found that a decent light source was needed for me in order to read the wafers in a Ford 10-cut door lock, especially those which are difficult to take off of the door. I have tried many types of lights to help read the wafers, but none of them seemed to work as well for me. However, one day when I was at a gun store, I found a light source that is manufactured by Browning and is used to look down through the barrels of guns. 

locksmith-boise-door-lockThe light has an "L" shaped lexan light that I filed down to a tip which will fit straight into the top of the keyway of Ford door locks. It even holds the shutter open, and it lights up the entire keyway. Spending the $20 for the complete light is not really necessary if you feel there is no need to, you can just buy the bulb for about $2 and use the rubber tip of a spark plug wire and fit the other end of the rubber over your own MAG light. This simple light source made it easier on me to quickly make keys for these locks by sight reading the wafers. It also saved a lot of time trying to remove the lock from the actual door in order to decode it.

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Change Key Fabrication

11/11/2014 16:30

seattle-locksmith-safeDuring all my years as a locksmith technician, I learned that there is more than two ways ( right and wrong) to do a job. I got a call to meet a company representative at a central location to change the combination on six floor safes. Once I arrived to the location, I grabbed my change key pack, screw-drivers and a small flashlight and continued on to do the job. I observed the backs of the units and saw that all had La Gard style change key holes. Once I opened the case where I keep my change keys in, I could not find my LaGard change key. I went and looked at the service van, and I could not find it there as well! 

Since the company needed the safe heads back in the stores as soon as possible, I had to come up with a different solution in order to change the combinations without the proper change key. I came up with an idea of taking the back covers off of the units, aligning the gates, bringing the wheel pack around to the change index hole in the top of the head and using a piece of flat spring steel to unlock the wheels. 

change-key-locksmith-seattleTo start the process, I grounded a tab on the end of the spring steel that would fit into the hole under the wheel pack. With a little effort grinding and filing along the length of the spring steel, I had a tool that would unlock the wheels. Next step was reattaching the cover plate with the wheels aligned under the change key hole and then I inserted the custom change key that I made in the hole and unlocked the wheels. Now I was able to change all the combinations the  same way I would have done if I had the required change key. Normally, I wouldn't recommend trying this on a regular basis, only if there is absolutly no choice. 

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Sesamee Padlock

09/19/2014 15:04

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out a new method to open Sesamee combination padlocks, and I think I found a way that might be better than other methods that other locksmith technicians usually use. This model of padlock is made in Taiwan and is considerably tighter around the wheels than the earlier models. I have been trying all the standard ways of opening it such as: The Yeggster's curly cue Weiser shim on the first wheel, prying on the right side of wheel two and the left side of wheel three and the old flat spot location thing. 

padlock-portland-locksmithI read somewhere that some technicians had success using the Weiser shims method, but the tolerances were just too tight on this lock to get any sort of decent reading. Someone mentioned a method that involved drilling a hole to insert a tool that put downward force on the shackle. However, I didn't really want to drill any holes, so I pushed the shackle in with considerable force by timing it upside down and pushing it against the surface of my table. I then slid the side of my thumb against the surface of the first wheel—moving the numbers in ascending order. 

Once it reached a certain number, you could feel that it was stuck and would require much more pressure to turn it. Each wheel was worked with this downward pressure on the shackle and light timing pressure applied with the side of my thumb, always going in ascending order with the numbers. After recording the four numbers that shows the negative spot on the wheel, I added 5 to each number, redialed the combination and the lock opened up.

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Ignition Picking Trick

09/19/2014 13:16

If I have learned anything about picking from all my years of experience in the locksmith industry, is that the biggest obstacle on almost every picking job is getting the tension wrench to stay where you want it to stay. It doesn't matter where the tension wrench is being placed, most of the time it would slip just when you are certain you've got the lock in a position to open it. I usually ran into a problem such as that while trying to pick steering wheel locks. However, I did found an easier way of picking those problematic  locks without damaging the lock or the steering. I would still suggest that you have a breaking device or other backup tool available for those stubborn locks that will not respond when trying picking them. So far I did not had any problem using that method. 

This is how it goes. I drill two small holes one on each side of the key-way, or in case of cross key-way, between cross openings. Then I drill one hole on each ignition-locksmith-spokaneside of the center. I insert a tweezers type tension wrench in the holes and apply light pressure with a double ball picking tool. I rake the plug a few times on each side of the cross keyway, or upper and lower wafers in the original club. Then, I increase the pressure and rake it again.

The cylinder will usually turn with putting some pressure on it, but not too much. What I usually do, I start with a light pressure and then go up from there. This holes drilling method worked well for me even on residential locks as well, but obviously with using different picking tools. Anytime the key-way is obstructed, the lock would be positioned up-side down, or any other reason that would make picking the lock difficult, I would use that method first before attempting drilling out the plug.

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Heavy Duty Schlage Lock Re-Key

09/19/2014 12:30

With all my years of experience in the locksmith field I never had any issues with removing or installing locks on any type of door until recently. I got called by a deadbolt-locksmith-renoregular customer of the company to re-key the locks on all the doors in the restaurant. Once I did all the outside doors and some of the interior doors, I came to the restaurant's office that had a heavy-duty Schlage double-cylinder deadbolt on the door that I have not seen before. 

One of the problems I had was that I couldn't find the retainer screws that held the cylinders together, so I decided to remove the screws from the deadbolt latch, based on the fact that I could access the cylinder retaining screws like I would on a Lori. However, I did not have much luck with that. Because I didn't want to damage the lock, I had no choise, but to call Schlage technical service line and to my surprise they were very helpful. They told me that the inside cylinder housing had a scalp plate over the retaining screws and that I could remove the plate and access the retaining screws to remove the deadbolt from the door in order to re-key it. 

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Camper Deadbolt Installation

09/19/2014 10:59

boise-locksmithFrom previous experience during my years as a locksmith technician,I have found that usually when I install a deadbolt on a motor home or camping trailer most of the time there will be a problem with the location of the thumb turn or inside cylinder. It will usually be in the way of the inner screen door and will interfere with the screen door closing. Most of the time, the inside cylinder cannot be accessed from the inside without modifying the screen door as well. 

In order to solve this problem, I installed the deadbolt in the wall of the camper on the latch side of the door and only had to mortise in my strike hole on the door. This solution offers just as much security without having to modify or change any of the doors or hardware. 

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Latch Fix

09/19/2014 02:32

I got a job recently to repair the lock in an interior wood door. According to the customer the lock would not latch and it was very difficult to close. One thing I did noticed while I was messing with the door was that the top of the door above the lock was hitting the frame and in order to close the door I had to lift up on the lockset. Once I was doing that, I also noticed that the frame moved on the hinge side. I noticed that many of my fellow locksmiths ran into the same problem as well. For me It seemed like when these frames were installed the professionals who usually do the installation use dry wall screws to attach the frame to the 16 gauge metal stud. With the higher usage doors the screws often wallow out their holes and cause the doorframe to loosen. 


The way I now deal with this type of issue is to remove the doorstep trim from the frame on the hinge side. Close the door, place an air wedge locksmith tool beneath the door directly below the lock and inflate it until I hear the latch click. Now I go on to install self-tapping screws with a 3/8" drive head through the frame and into the stud. It seems like this method works, and the trim will still fits nicely over the screw heads for a clean look.

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