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How I made some picks

When it comes down to it there is nothing better than manual tools for your Lock pick Set, whether they be retail, homebrew, macgyver style. DIY'ers look here.

Moderators: Kaotik, Chucklz, SFGOON

How I made some picks

Postby Olson Burry » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:28 am

I noticed some folks asking for advice on how to make picks and also noticed a lot of time has been spent discussing handles but not necessarily forming the tools themselves. Hopefully by the end of today I'll have documented the process of making a basic pick set and that someone may find the experience useful.

I am by no means an expert but I dont think I'm “doin it rong" [sic] the results speak for themselves. What I'm looking to show is that with cheap materials and some inexpensive tools you can make picks that are not only functional but pretty to hold and look at in much less than half a lazy day if you take your time.

First we get some hacksaw blades. I have experimented with many different varieties but these ones seem to be the best. They also happen to be the cheapest. You can see that they are not straight. Clearly when they are put in an actual hacksaw under tension they will straighten out, however I need to choose the straightest bits out of them to begin with.

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Just over 1/3 of a blade seems to be around the right size.

I grind the blade down using the eye as a guide basically leaving a little bit either side of it. I've also drawn lines to give an idea of how long the shaft needs to be.
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Begin to shape the pick, roughly at first to get rid of most of what we don't want.

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Using the grinder alone one can get pretty much there.

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Time for a well deserved cup of tea.

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Rough cuts done, we can put the grinder to sleep and get the carpet back down, I do all this in my kitchen which I dont recommend but needs must and living on ones own has its benefits.. These would probably work fine after a good sanding but I want to shape them with some files to make them just “so”.

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After just one going over with 240 grit we can see what we're dealing with and they start to look much more like proper tools instead of ground bits of metal. I find that the sides are the easy bit but special attention needs to be taken on the top and bottom as these, after all, are the bits that will be gliding smoothly against the plug and under the pins.

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Using progressively finer grit paper, magically they start to shine and look pretty good.

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The finished article! Now you can go one of several ways here; You could sand the whole lot to make them thin and pretty or, you can add handles. My personal favourite is to cut a couple of other hacksaw blades to size and stick them either side with epoxy resin. This needs to be clamped almost overnight for it to dry and then sanded down for a good finish. It makes for a solid pick with great feedback, however here, as I'm all out of blades and happen to have some hot orange “sculpy” I'm going to use that. Like FIMO sculpy is a bit like clay and can be moulded and shaped before you stick it in the oven for quarter of an hour, after which it sets pretty hard.

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It might be a good idea to wash your hands at this point as they'll probably be covered in silicon carbide and metal dust which you dont want in the sculpy on the handles like I did.

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I cover the pick in sculpy and roll it on a flat surface. I could've spent longer getting the handles really nice but these will do as an example.

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That's it! Happy pickin'

OB
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby 5thcorps » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:56 am

Excellent work. and yes sanding is the key not just to looks but also so the picks slide in and out without and friction.
"Save the whales, Trade them in for valuable prizes."
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby hydruh » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:58 am

Wow, Olsen, that's a great bit of work. Sticky anyone?

S
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby ToolyMcgee » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:40 am

No, no. There are some serious problems with your tutorial. I'm stuck halfway through because you failed to cover what kind of tea to use or how it should be prepared. :lol:

You have a good bunch of photo and text info here. Great job. DIY newbs are definately going to benefit from the effort you put into it.
*blank*
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby Olson Burry » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:56 pm

Ah, thanks everyone, yes I hope someone will find it useful or at least give some confidence to try. If I can do it anyone can!

Thought I'd add a rough estimate of what I spent.

Bench grinder £30
Needle Files (10) £6
Pack of 5 Hacksaw Blades £5
Silicon Carbide sandpaper various grades (240,400,600,1000,1200) ~£5
Sculpy £1.50 or epoxy for metal handles £~4

The grinder will last forever if you take care of it and there would be enough blades there to make at least 10 picks. In a pinch you could use a Dremel but probably find you go through quite a few grinding wheels and cut of disks. The files are cheap and seem OK.

Thanks again!

@Tooly, hah! I forgot the important intricacies of proper tea execution! it's Asaam which is your typical breakfast tea and it's always milk first then boiling water on the bag or if you're lucky enough to have a teapot then brewed in there for at least 3 minutes. No sugar, thanks.
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby barbarian » Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:47 am

Very nice work, great pictures and the finished picks look really good.

This should be a mandatory read for anyone making their own picks.
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby jamesphilhulk2 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:42 am

did you use araldite to glue the metal together
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby Olson Burry » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:15 am

jamesphilhulk2 wrote:did you use araldite to glue the metal together

Yeah, that's the stuff. Cut two pieces the same size and clamp them either side overnight. I used some wood and phone books but a vice is probably better.

After it's dry you can take it to the grinder again to get rid of the excess and make the handles flush with the pick itself. Heres one I made ages ago. I no longer bother trying to line the eyes in the blades up, it's more trouble than it's worth but after grinding you can hardly tell the 3 pieces apart.

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Re: How I made some picks

Postby jamesphilhulk2 » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:31 am

a quick tip: about 5-10 minutes after you've bonded the pieces together (the glue will be soft enough) get a Stanley blade and cut away the excess it save you grinding it away
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby thelockopener » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:54 am

This is just what i needed. All i need now is a grinder, some different sandpapers and the uk alternative to FIMO. And a cheap lock. Thanks a bunch mate! :D
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby femurat » Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:42 am

Hi Olson Burry,
I'm wondering why you started making plastic handles. Your metal ones were perfect! I guess there are some advantages but I can't imagine what they are. Please forgive my curiosity.

Cheers :)
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby Olson Burry » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:49 am

Hello.

I do prefer the metal handles and I think they give better feedback, I wouldn't say mine were perfect but I've certainly got better at making them recently so, thanks mate.

The sculpy thing is a recent experiment for me and I really like the colours, they also do feel nice to use and very comfy.

This thread was never intended to be about the handles and I nearly didn't include the end bit at all. I think the subject has been covered many times over. What I was looking to show is how with a few tools, decent picks can appear from the most scrappy looking beginnings.

Clearly there is some interest in how to make handles so perhaps I could do a separate "how to" on my metal handles as they are very simple and pretty effective, this time I didn't have enough material and happened to have sculpy around. I also didn't want to tread on any toes as many pick makers here do fantastic work. If there is a market for a simpler approach I'd be happy to show how it's done.

I'll go tomorrow and get what I need and take some more snaps of the process if that is the right thing to do. I might not post till sunday though as I have dinner happening elsewhere tomorrow and the glue takes half a day to dry.

Thanks for the kind words and interest! Have a good one.
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby femurat » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:05 pm

So the sculpy was just an experiment, not a substitute for metal... that's enough to satisfy my curiosity. I like experirments. By the way, congrats for the well deserved stitcky :)
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby Challenger909 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:19 am

You inspired me to go make some
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Re: How I made some picks

Postby WDPaladin » Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:02 pm

Simple, effective, awesome. I really need to get on this one day..

Paladin

PS: Love the obligatory pics of the tea and soap! :wink:
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