Tel:07565 582856

Archive for Tools

Tool investment








No pictures on this one but just an update on what tools I have available to me in opening safes and locks

Both the Tann 10 lever locks, ministry and standard

All variations of CAWI upto 11 lever

Chubb Mersey, both 10 and 14 lever versions

Rosengrens ABN

Chatwood Milner

Chubb isolator locks

SMP 9 lever locks

Chubb 6k78, as used on the wall safes

FAS 6880

Electronic lock upgrades will now also be easier as I have a regular supplier. I have also invested a lot of time into defeat of electronic safe locks. This will ensure your safe is opened without damage

I have also recently heavily invested in optics. I have both optical and digital scopes

I have also passed my teaching qualification (formerly known as PTTLS). I aim to train locksmiths who want to improve their existing skills in non destructive entry

RVA Scope clamp

blog end of feb-8







Following on from the last post with the stratford safe here is the set up I used to decode the lock. It is a RVA clamp  which is a fantastically engineered bit of kit and a really good app called e-i-pro which is an endoscopic app designed for iphone

This allows you to view the scope view via the phone, I can’t wait for the ipad tether as I can then set it up and show the customer exactly what I’m looking at inside their safe.

The scope was only left like this to take the photo, wouldn’t suggest leaving one with that weight attached for long!

The RVA clamp is really good, solid engineered bit of kit that is in my ‘must have’ bag now. I’ve used it countless times.

GoPro Hero 3 opening

Due to the nature of some openings customers want to be sure that none of the contents of the safe go missing while engineers work on them and want visual proof. Openings carried out for solicitors and Police will fall into these categories. I have invested in a Go Pro camera to record safe openings if required (and extra batteries for those openings that just dont go to plan!)

Its a fantastic little camera and the quality of the video taken is just great. I also use the footage for my files. A great reference tool for seeing how safe mechanisms and locks work.

lagard audits and reset











Over the course of 2013 I have reset, reprogrammed and audited quite a few Lagard locks. There are a few versions, the 66e being most common when used for audit purposes. For this operation you require specialist software and hardware. I purchased a separate laptop for this very purpose. I can reset a lock with a lost manager code back to factory settings and reprogram the lock. Set up various functions, add users and audit data recovered from the lock.


I have recently obtained software for the Kaba 252 / 552 electronic lock. This will allow programming and auditing functions as well.

Audits can be done discreetly or as part of a general safe service. A manager code is not required as a factory reset does not delete the audit trail. All other users however and all other settings will be lost so if an audit is required a manager code makes everything much easier.

FAS safe lock decoder

FAS Lock










Recently I purchased a FAS safe lock decoder tool. Now this tool is very complex, very small parts and the locks themselves are basically unpickable with conventional tools. I have encountered a few of these, fortunately on open safes.

Currently a work in progress but I have made good steps in understanding the tool and the decoding process. The tool will unlock the lock without damage and then you can reset the lock to new keys. No unbolting locks, no replacement locks just replacement keys, much easier for all parties involved.

The tool is precision made, the component parts so small and delicate you must be in the zone to successfully get it to work.

I’ve had one lock on the bench open and one very close to opening on a live safe, probably another 10-15 minutes and the safe would have opened without invasive drilling. It was very time consuming but I was learning whilst trying to open the safe so time was not wasted and I learnt a great deal in how the lock responds and what happens when you have a correct code.

This tool does FAS 6868, FAS 6870, FAS 6880, FAS 6890 and FAS 6980. All these FAS locks look pretty similar but its only with a scope and reference files that you will know exactly what your dealing with.

I have a safe lined up so after some more bench practice I’ll be cracking that safe!


Chubb 3R35 Bank job

Had a very interesting and challenging job today. I had to break into the front door of a bank. First time for me!

After about 30 minutes Sussex Police had paid me a visit, concerned locals had called to say a man was breaking into a bank. Both officers were very nice as I explained what I was attempting to do.

Due to the construction of the door my tool for the lock would not work, this caused a big problem. It is a high security Chubb 3R35 (shown below) and it is considered one of the most difficult mortice locks out there to pick.




The Chubb 3R35 requires you to firstly unlock the latch mechanism and then turn the key again, one full rotation to withdraw the latch so in effect, without the key you need to pick it twice. Picking these locks once is hard enough so I was ‘quite excited’ when the latch retracted and the door creaked open.




Once the door was open I managed to get the lock out of the door which was tricky, re-lever and then test, fit back into the door and re-secure the premises.

Again, due to the door width it was a nightmare getting the lock deadlocked. I had to modify a key which probably added 40 minutes to the job.

Chris Belchers fantastic pocket curtain pick saved the day this time. He did make a bespoke tool for the 110 and all its siblings but it was fractionally too short. The original, although very close to the limit, just reached and allowed me to pick the lock. It was the last tool I tried, very nearly defeated I am so happy I tried it, made my day.

Second successful mortice lock opening this week. Nice to get to practice on door locks from time to time.

The picture below shows the side of the door, nearly 2 1/2 inches deep in the door.


Ingersoll padlock picking – lock pick training

ingersoll padlock picked







Not a safe lock but a worthy opponent. Keeping my hand in at picking domestic locks is proving to be  quite difficult but I’m still finding time to practice my lockpicking. The lock above is a high security 10 lever Ingersoll padlock. These locks are formidable. Many locksmiths cannot pick these and normally have to cause a fair bit of damage to get these things removed. I have found with heavy duty Peterson tension tools and picks I am able to open these locks. Not record breaking times but I’m getting them open.

It is quite refreshing spending time going back and opening, re examining padlocks, cylinders and mortice locks. Keeps you on top of your skills which really fade quickly in this trade. Lock pick training is a service I can provide on many common and high security locking mechanisms. Available to bonafide locksmiths and people in jobs that require non destructive entry capabilities.

Tool making

As it has been quiet of late I have started on all the projects left over from late last year. This particular job is to make a bespoke tool for the lock shown in the foreground. The lock is from a Mottura wall safe. It contains a number of levers and is operated by a double bitted key. Here I am making a 2 in 1 pick for the lock as I do not currently have one. The safe operates with two locking systems,  a three number combination code and the key lock. If the incorrect code is set the keys will not open the safe. It is a simple mechanism but its pretty effective. The keys look impressive but it appears that half of the levers are for show. The lock needs to be picked two times (or the key needs to be turned twice) to retract the bolts fully which is a fairly common trait of European mortice locking systems these days. The pick is complete and tested. It needs to be finished off and cleaned up but the main thing is that it works. Once I’ve tuned the pick I will re-install the locks into the safe and test it out as there is nothing like practicing on a real safe. I have made several tools over the past year, some more successful than others but its good fun and teaches you about locking mechanisms. I’m looking forward to getting a micro milling machine and lathe, hopefully in the near future so I can make more complicated tools and equipment. I really enjoy tool making and enjoy making old locks works and cutting keys to antique locks by hand, its very therapeutic but it is very time consuming. When working as a bench locksmith I found these frustrating as they really require 100% concentration and trying to run a shop and answer a phone really was not conducive to getting these keys cut. Found a fantastic site searching the web of a guy who restores and turns old locks and keys into art. This is something I think I may try my hand at in the near future as I personally own some lovely old locks.

Tann 9 Lever lock picking


Happy new year, hope 2013 will be a great year for all my readers.

As things have been pretty quiet of late I have been getting out all the locks I own and I’ve been honing my picking techniques. Every lock is different, they all respond differently and require tools designed especially for that lock. Some pick easily and some are a absolute nightmare. The Tann 9 lever has been on my hit list now for some time. It is a lock that should be respected as it can trap you very easily with its anti pick notches either side of the gate. The lock contains 9 levers, 8 of which (in all the examples I have) have anti pick notches either side of the gate, one lever which acts as a control lever is plain and it is the first lever to set. After this it is a matter of plotting and remembering where the gates are.

The Tann 9 lever lock is found on higher security safes, sometimes two are fitted to the same safe. The following safes contain this type of lock:

Bankers, Cashier, Clarendon, Consort, Fortress, Superbullion, Tenacity, TS1, TS2 and TS3 – there are more and there are variants of this  lock too. Almost all of these locks are protected by glass or other relocking devices so drilling is normally out of the question.

I can open and replace a Tann lock if required or re-lever it to suit a new key

Cawi safe lock picking

safe lock pickingWhat do you do with your Saturday nights?? here I am projecting another lock. A high security lock made by a company called Cawi. Cawi is short for Carl Wittkopp and they are based in Germany. Every lever contains anti pick notches but rather than hinder they actually help you out when your trying to open the lock. Not enough hours in the day for practice and I’ve got a box full of locks that need photographing, measuring and picking. I do enjoy the highs and lows of safe lock picking. The mount is a specially made safe lock mount designed and produced by Safe Ventures,it simulates picking a lock in a safe as you can adjust the front plate (not shown here) to any depth. This gives you a much more realistic picking experience and it helps to keep your picks straight. I’ve made a plastic board to fit onto the lock picking mount to assist with plotting levers as I would usually use a wipe clean magnetic sheet of paper to record my indications on a real safe. Every lock has its own readings and these have to be recorded carefully – the time spent training is never wasted as its too late to train when your on a real safe for a customer. The problems are that there are a vast number of locks out there and it takes some time to master just the one lock, still, even when you think you have mastered a lock one will appear that will stop you in your tracks. This was the case with the Cawi lock. Fortunately the lock that was causing problems had been forced making it probably impossible to pick open with a lock picking tool. The lock was eventually opened with a key cut to code and some ‘gentle agitation’ of the safes door.

Have a good weekend!