Sunday, October 18, 2009

Did you pick the lock in the wrong direction? Non - Plug Spinner Solution...

I was writing over on Bladeforums (a cesspool that is sometimes fun to wade around in) about using waxed dental floss to pack a pin tumbler lock cylinder that you have picked in the wrong direction, to be able to move it to the unlocked position instead of having to pick the lock all over again or use a plug spinner device.

One member, "LK," posted a link to this YouTube video. When I watched the video, I was doubting that there were any pins in the cylinder shown because YouTube is infested with kids picking Medeco high-security locks in a very short amount of time when in fact they have removed the high-security features and probably a couple pin stacks as well in order to do so. Don't get me wrong, there are very interesting and valuable videos on YouTube, I'm just very skeptical about anything I see on YouTube until I try it myself.

I tried this and it works, the following is what I wrote and posted in that Bladeforums thread on dental floss:

Well, the main, secret use of waxed dental floss is in Non-destructive Entry (NDE). Which has been mentioned in the Urban BOB thread. It has to be waxed. Locks pick in two directions, to the unlocked position (Captain Obvious!) and also the locked position. If you pick a lock to the locked position, well, it doesn't open and you have to start over again and pick it the other direction or use a plug spinner which is yet another Locksmith tool. I have owned HPC, A-1 and Rytan plug spinners and as far as I'm concerned, they all suck.

If you pick the lock in the wrong direction, remove the pick and then hold the lock in that position with the turning tool (tension wrench) and pack it with waxed dental floss which will form a correctly cut key inside the keyway! Once you pack it in place with the pick until you cannot get anymore in the keyway, turn the plug back past the normal position to the unlocked position. Old Locksmithing trick of the trade.

In order for something like this to be very valuable, it has to have a very, very high precentage rate of working or it's useless. If it doesn't work it means it stopped in the lock position and you have to start over again. You know this if you pick locks, this is to explain to others reading this that don't know.

If the method doesn't work well, you will end up re-picking cylinders anyway so why use a plug spinner to begin with, if you are going to end up picking it again you could just reset the turning tool and pick the thing again now that you know which way it picks to the unlocked position.

With the rubber band, I tried it four times within about a minute on a picked five pin Schlage going right and left back and forth. Works incredibly well!

I think I would keep waxed dental floss just in case I run into something that I either cannot secure well like a padlock or because there is a tight turning cylinder that would not respond well to this method. The lock has to be in very good working order for the rubber band to work or a plug spinner.

The A-1 Security Mfg., I don't even know if they still make them, has a coil spring. The HPC Flip-It and the Rytan have flat spring steel springs in them that take a twist. A combination of turning the tool and hitting the button is supposed to spin the plug but they have just never worked for me at all.

The rubber band idea works on a lock at this time that:

1. Works perfectly, mechanically.

2. Has no drag on the tailpiece, i.e., it's not connected to the deadbolt assembly or other bolt.

So, I am hoping that this is not a case of something working in a laboratory but not out in the field. There are a lot of people that will tell you flat out that raking is useless and for the amateur and that single pin picking is the only way to go. That's true in a lab you have set up but not true in the field. Because of awkward hand positions, cold weather and a host of other issues, if you actually want to be able to open locks in the field, you better know how to do everything.

If the lock is tempermental with the correct key, the rubber band method is probably not going to be very successful. If the lock cylinder functions properly but there is some issue with the boltworks attached to the tailpiece, again, might not work well or at all and you would have to go to waxed dental floss or a really excellent plug spinner which you seem to have. But before you rely on that thing, test it out on cylinders that you are likely to find out in the field, i.e., ones that have not been maintained very well.

On a stand-alone pin tumbler cylinder that works properly and no linkage attached to the tailpiece, the rubber band method is a dream come true really. I hope I get good results later on with other locking devices.

Here is the YouTube video for your education:

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