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My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

lock picking techniques, videos, lessons, skills and building them so you can pick locks in nanoseconds.

Moderators: Kaotik, Chucklz

Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:24 am

I have had this Sargent lever padlock for some time, waiting to making a good looking key. I suppose I was hoping to find some suitable blanks made from nickle silver, but they are hard to come by. One of these days, I will take one of these locks apart to learn how to make keys more effectively. I got this lock on Ebay without a key in the locked position. These locks are not the easiest locks to decode. Many locks with non-original keys of this type often have evidence of having had the pins punched out in order to make keys. I made a test blank from a hacksaw blade before I made my final key. On the hacksaw blade I removed the material that contacts the lever stack and replaced it with foil tape to mark the exact lever positions. Once the lock was picked open, a combination of foil tape and reading method was used to make a working test key. This particular lock had one double-sided ward cut that had to be addressed first.

This is the first time I have made a heart shaped flat key. The geometry is rather simple. It includes two touching circles (with no union), and a ninety degree v-cut. The outside of the heart was machined using a drill and Dremel carbide cutter (as shown in my prior post) on my drill press. I achieved a supper shine on my key using 1500 grit sandpaper. This key was made from a floor scraper replacement blade. This is hard stuff.

Image
My homemade heart-shaped steel flat key for Sargent.
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:06 pm

So, I decided to take my mini- Yale & Towne bronze padlock apart to learn about its mechanics and ultimately make a key. This lock is actually really clever in the way a combination of lever technology and warding was compiled into such a small space. In order to disassemble my lock, I had to carefully punch the retaining pin out with the intention of re-using it. I need to stress that the inner assembly will not come out until the lock is picked open. The locking dog will engage the hasp preventing dis-assembly. My Yale lock is a three lever design. The first and third lever are on one side of the key hole and the middle lever is on the opposite side. This simple lever stacking makes picking rather hard, because picking has to happen on both side of the key hole chamber. And, if it couldn't get any harder the locking dog has to tensioned. The fence pin is attached to the locking dog. I recommend picking the inner most lever (the third) first working toward the front. The tension wrench needed to engage the back of the lock will require some inventive tooling. I have my own thoughts and processes on this, but they may be considered too advanced for this forum, so I shall refrain.

Anyway, once the correct key is inserted into the lock and rotated exactly ninety degrees clockwise, all gates on each lever line up, and with slightly more rotation of the key, the fence pin attached to the locking dog will displace into to lever stack. This displacement allows the hasp plunger to pop upward. Even though having the lock open allows dis-assembly of the lock, a true challenge of one's locksmith skills would be to impression a key rather than taking the lock apart. This is possible because the lever stack is in a frozen position while the lock is open. The lock now becomes a warded lock, but the trick is to not over cut the depths and not to over tension the key to avoid damage to the levers. A brass or nickle-silver key should be used for this technique.

The key that I eventually made for my Yale lock measures .054 thick and .180 wide on the key blade. The design of the key head was my own concept, but I don't think it's an original idea. I had fun making it, nevertheless.

Image
Mini Yale & Towne with homemade steel key.
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:01 am

Here's my second video that I've done. This is a link to help promote LP101. I encourage viewers to join this site and ask questions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss-ZdWyqCvY
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby femurat » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:30 pm

Nice video. If I didn't know this forum, it would intrigue me and I'd probably look for it to see how you were able to accomplish such impossible tasks.

Since you encourage people to ask questions, do you have any suggestion to help me making a key for my old padlock? If you don't want to share the details in the open forum, I also accept PM's :mrgreen:

Cheers :)
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby dieselducy » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:01 am

I am an AVID collector of street letter box locks and Older push key locks! This thread is AMAZING and you definitely have some talent. i wish I was able to make keys for my locks..
dieselducy is a REAL live train engine!!
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:59 am

This is a pair of my latest open-lock decoder for the classic "United States Street Letter Box Lock". You just stick it in the key hole, and there you have it.... instant try out key. The hex bolts are tightened to lock the pins in place.

Image
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby dieselducy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:26 am

WOW these tools look very well made. They would work excellent with my code chart for Letter box locks..
dieselducy is a REAL live train engine!!
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:39 am

I had a Miller lock like the one shown below once before, but the spring in the keyhole cover was broken as well as the spring in the internal latching mechanism. In short, I've had somewhat bad luck in collecting lever locks by Miller that weren't damaged. Recently, I was fortunate to get this padlock on Ebay in excellent working condition for just $15.00 without a key. It was risky to purchase this item for such a low cost, and I felt something had to be wrong with it.

It's been a while since I've made any brass barrel keys. It takes a lot of patience and time. Once I made the blank, the clockwise turning pressure on the key made two distinct marks. One was a top ward and the other was a bit ward. This may not be the correct terminology, but the bit ward plate restricts the key from actuating the locking mechanism that retains the hasps. So, a cut must be made to allow the key to engage this component. This key works extremely well. One 360 degree pass with the key opens lock as it should.

Image
Miller bronze lever padlock with brass key.
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
Lauren
 
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:40 am

I've had this WB lock made in Brooklyn, NY for about a year now. This lock is a three lever design. I made a key from a nickle-silver blank when I first got it, but I was never happy with the key because it was too modern looking. Originally, I picked the lock and measured the edge of the levers from the bottom of the key slot using L-wires at the eleven O'clock position. This time a made heart shaped steel key. About ninety percent of the key was hand filed.

Image
Wilson Bohannan "074"
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Gozzo » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:12 pm

Those truly are works of art, you must have some serious skill's mate, I have seen homemade barrel keys before, but certainly nothing of that calibre. I thought I was clever when I did my first cut away with a Dremel and file ( to embarrassing to show ) but that is true skills
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:43 am

Thanks, I appreciate the comments.
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Lauren » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:14 am

One of my favorite padlocks is the "SAMSON EIGHT LEVER" made by Corbin Cabinet Lock Company, especially the ones made of bronze. This lock has a nice weight to it and is quite a challenge of one's locksmith skills to open a locked one. The level of difficulty to machine a homemade barrel out of cold steel stock and make it work is a true testimony of anyone's locksmith skills.

After I got my lock from an Ebay seller, I was initially under the impression that I could easily shim the locking levers one at a time, using my "Z" shim tool. No such luck...the gap between the hasp and the lock body was too thin for my tool, so I had to make a thinner version using .008" thick material. The outer part of the hasp had no room for any shim stock either. Usually, these locks have enough room for shim material insertion on both sides of the hasp.

I came up with an idea. Could I make a single bit key and use it to displace one side of the lever stack and then insert a shim to hold the stack? The key could then be flipped the other way to open the other lever stack. Because these keys are cut the same on both sides, the idea sounded like a good one. The question you are probably asking yourself at this point is how do I know to what depths I used to cut the key. This lock had just enough gap for a .008" shim on the inside of the hasp, and it was enough space for a visual inspection of the lever movement. This lock also has a ward plate between the upper and lower pairs of levers, so I had make a center cut on both sides of the key bits. To make a quick single bit barrel key, I used .250" thick aluminum stock. This key didn't have to look pretty, it just had to retract on side of the lever stack. I knew that I had cut the key correctly when I was able to insert my shim deep into the lock. The key also rotated 180 degrees, as would a finished key, clockwise or counterclockwise. After shimming the inner lever stack using my aluminum key, I reversed the key and lock opened!

I used a #18 drill bit on my double bitted barrel key and machined the shaft diameter to .245" with a .370" bit width and .085" bit thickness. This key took my 8 hours to make and I'm still not done polishing it. The bit cuts were all hand filled.

Image
My Homemade Double Bitted Barrel Key for "SAMSON".
LOCKSMITHS LOVE TO PICK BRAINS
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Solinus » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:10 pm

What great talent and what a collection! It must be unbelievable to see all this in person. Thank you so much far posting the images and the descriptions.

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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby dieselducy » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:36 am

All I can say here is...... AMAZING!!! you are truly an artist of antique locks!!!!
dieselducy is a REAL live train engine!!
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Re: My home made barrel key collection (& how to)

Postby Xtrajack » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:38 am

I found this thread while trying to find a solution, because I just recently lost the key to the antique lock that belonged to my grandfather. I used to use the lock to lock up my bicycle sometimes, until I lost the key.

Here is a pic of the lock:
Image
100_0919 by singlejack, on Flickr


Do you think that it would be a good candidate to have a new key made?
The lock is stamped Wilson Bohannan Brooklyn NY
Any thoughts?
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