Custom pick making
Over the past year or so making and selling commercial lockpicks I’ve made quite a few new friends along the way. Being someone who likes making stuff I was so impressed with the guys into making custom lock picks. Guys whose creativity and skills never ceases to amaze me. These guys create absolute masterpieces mainly using hand tools from bits of steel exotic woods hardwoods and fancy pen blanks among other materials. It dawned on me I had an ever increasing pile of left over 301 stainless steel. Off cuts left over from production and that could be up cycled into works of art in the right hands.
I asked some of the top custom pick makers from all over the world if they would like to share a little insight and write a few paragraphs about custom pick making and how and why they got into it. Hopefully this will inspire anyone who fancies having a go themselves and to gain enough insight into how they do what they do so well. We will also explore some of the tools and tips and tricks used along the way.
Tipene Muller- New Zealand
“The reason I started making in Picks was that I wanted some Pick profiles that I didn't own. Namely a Raimundo Triple Peak, a Peterson Hook 1 and a Peterson GEM. The first set I had purchased was a basic Southord Euro (C801) 9 piece set, it didn't include any of these so I set about trying to make my own. The first versions I made using Stainless steel Wiper Inserts, I then moved onto Starrett Feeler Stock. The downside of using Starrett Feeler Stock is that it's tempered steel and can corrode if not looked after correctly. What I was really after was the same type of Stainless Steel commercial Pick makers were using. Occasionally I would get my hands on some but the supply and quality was highly variable. In November 2018, Andy Law contacted me and offered me some 301 High Yield Stainless Offcuts (in 0.023"), from his commercially made Picks. As soon as I put a piece in my vice and hit it with my files I knew it was something special. It was tough to file and held it's strength as I tested progressively shallower shanks and finer profiles. Andy subsequently sent me steel in 0.019" and 0.015" to test. Both these gauges performed exceptionally well. A strong thin gauge Pick with a shallow shank and fine profile is a Pick makers Nirvana. The steel Andy Law sources for his Picks is the closest I've come to it. Although I've been known to occasionally "dabble" in fancy Pick handles, my real interest lies in experimenting with the business end of the Pick - the steel. The steel Law Lock Tools uses often let's me get away with things I really shouldn't. That in a nutshell is why I use it.”