Locksmith 101: Frequently Asked Questions
How do I pick a lock?
- It’s important to understand how your lock works.
- Purchase a pick and tension wrench. Each pick is specialized for a different problem. A tension wrench, or torque wrench, is the device you use to apply pressure to turn the lock cylinder.
- Place the tension wrench into the lower portion of the keyhole.
- Determine which way the cylinder must be turned to unlock the lock. If you commonly use the lock, you probably already know which way you turn the key to open the lock.
- Apply light torque to the tension wrench in the correct direction, and hold.
- Insert the pick into the upper part of the keyhole and feel the pins. With the pick in the keyhole, you should be able to press up and feel the individual pins with the tip of the pick. You should be able to push them up and feel them spring back down when you release the pressure.
- Push the stubborn pin up until it “sets.” Press the stubborn pin with just enough pressure to overcome the downward pressure of the spring.
- Continue applying torque and repeat the last two steps for each of the remaining pins.
- Use the tension wrench to turn the cylinder and unlock the lock. Once all the pins are set, you should be able to turn the cylinder.
What’s the difference between change locks and rekey locks?
Rekey locks is the process of changing or replacing the tumblers on a lock cylinder with ones of different sizes. Once this is done, the old key will no longer work. Ultimately, rekey locks is a quick and affordable solution for stolen or lost keys, or other situations where your security is breached.
Change locks services are usually considered over rekey locks services when:
- just moved into a new place and don’t like the existing model
- if the lock is very old and is not physically capable of accommodating a modern rekey process
- if the lock is damaged or of low quality
Why should I upgrade to higher security locks, such as keyless entry or “pick proof” locks, for my home?
Higher security locks such as keyless entry locks are great for residential and commercial properties because they are unable to be picked. With the evolution of modern technology, there are also “smart locks” available that allow you to control your locks with your mobile device. These systems help limit who has access to your home or business.
How can I become a certified locksmith?
- Classes for locksmithing is usually offered through community colleges or online. Training typically includes lock picking, repairing locks, duplicating keys, and other various locksmith skills. Training can also be gained through an apprenticeship with an experienced locksmith – apprenticeships are typically unpaid.
- Some states require locksmiths to work full-time for at least one year at a licensed locksmith business before obtaining a license of their own.
- Not every state requires locksmiths to obtain a license, but are encourage to do so to ensure consumer safety and professional standards within the industry. In order to obtain a license, most states require locksmiths to submit an application, pass a background check and submit their fingerprints to state and federal fingerprint databases.
- Certification is obtained through an examination provided by Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).
What types of services do locksmiths typically offer?
Most locksmith companies offer 24 hour locksmith services for car, residential and commercial property. Locksmith services offered usually include lockouts, key replacement, key duplication, broken key extraction, ignition switch replacement, mailbox, file cabinet, safe and trunk locksmith services. A lot of locksmith companies also offer various keys and locks for purchase, usually of top brands like Kwikset, Schlage, Medecco and other various well-known brands. The easiest way to find out which services and products are available to you is to call your local locksmith company.