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How do I send something to the LockLab?

P.O. Box 2160
Merrifield, VA  22116

Please don’t send anything you need returned without prior coordination.



What is the best pick CHEAP pick set?

First, understand that you get what you pay for in picks (and everything else…). I do NOT recommend any of the cheap pick sets found on the Internet, which are usually made in China. I have nothing against Chinese stuff (and buy a lot of it), but not lock picks. The metal in those sub-$20 kits is crap and bends or breaks easily. You will be disappointed in the performance and durability of those junky kits, I guarantee it. Having said that, there are a few manufacturers of good, reasonably priced tools out there. From low to high, take a look at these kits:

  1. SouthOrd PXS-14 ($28)
  2. SouthOrd C-801 ($30)
  3. Mad Bob’s Ghost Pro ($30) – Discontinued try ebay
  4. Sparrows EOD Light ($45)
  5. Sparrows Tuxedo ($39)
  6. Peterson Talon ($60)
  7. Sparrows Wizwazzle ($60)
  8. Sparrows Monstrum ($60)
  9. Peterson Eagles Nest ($70)
  10. Sparrows Night School Tuxedo Plus Edition ($88)
  11. Sparrows Vorax ($88)
  12. Sparrows Monstrum XXL ($107)

There are more expensive kits that use better steel, nicer handles and different types of picks, but these should get most beginners off to a good start.

How can I get Challenge Locks?

As far as I know there’s no “formal” lock exchange program in the lock community – and probably for good reason. A couple of years ago I tried to get something going by sending out about a half dozen “traveling lock boxes“, each containing about 10-12 high quality locks, but it seemed to die almost immediately. The boxes never seemed to travel beyond their first recipient…so it was over $400 (in postage alone) wasted on that “experiment”.

Still, I continued to send locks to people that ask for them but it was very rare to receive anything in return. When I did get something back it was normally a few Master Locks, usually without keys – hardly a fair “trade”.

About a year ago I tried something new: When people asked for locks I asked them to send me something FIRST, then I’d return locks of equal or greater value. This worked OK, but I was still receiving a large number of broken or damaged locks, as well as keyless master locks. I wasted a lot of postage sending junk back.

Most recently (and this is my advice to you if you want to exchange locks with someone) I started asking WHAT they want to exchange. If you are interested in their offer then ask the person to send the locks to you FIRST, then send yours after they arrive.

I hope this doesn’t sound “bitter”, but this was a multi-year learning curve for me. The lockpicking community has a lot of really nice people, but like any community there are some not-so-nice ones as well. I receive between 50 and 100 PMs a day asking for free locks, equipment, keys, tools or locksmith services. Everyone believes you’re getting donations from big sponsors or paid by lock corporations. Nothing could be further from the truth. This ain’t NASCAR. The BEST you can hope for is a few hundred dollars from Google adsense, which is nice but nowhere NEAR covers the cost of the locks or the several thousand dollars for USPS mail-outs each year. You have to LOVE lockpicking to be in this game.

So here’s my advice to you (This is what I do). When you see someone picking a lock you are interested in, send them a PM. Something like:

“Hey, great video of picking that XYZ lock! I would very much like to try my hand on it and am interested in buying or trading you for it. If you are interested in selling it I’d like to offer $XX, plus shipping. If you are interested in trading for it I have a variety of interesting locks, to include XX,YY.ZZ,etc – all with keys. My email address is my@email.com. If you are interested I’m happy to send photos of the locks. Thank you!”

How do I make my own picks?

If you want some good instructions on making picks, here you go:

    1. Material Selection
    2. Design and Layout
    3. Rough Shaping
    4. Fine Shaping
    5. Final Finishing

Can you send me some free stuff?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any sponsors that give me lock picking equipment or locks to send out. I WISH I did because I get about 20 emails every day from people interested in locksport and giving them some free samples would be a GREAT way to expand the hobby. Instead, I buy or trade for the picks and locks you see in my videos and usually give away the locks to the first person that asks for them. Even then, the postage comes out of my own pocket… Perhaps one day I’ll land a big sponsor and be in a better position to give away samples.

What kind of Camera do you use?

“In the Summer of 2018 I made some major improvements to the LockLab’s equipment so I could produce more enjoyable videos for you. I upgraded my camera to the Sony RX-100, Version 4. I continued videoing at 1080p, but upgraded to 60 frames per second so transitions would be smoother and the images crisper. The camera is capable of 4k, but heats up after only a few minutes which limits the video length before it automatically shuts down. Besides, processing 4K video takes an incredible amount of time and, since 70% of my viewers watch my videos on their phones, it simply isn’t necessary.
I also started capturing separate audio with a dedicated Neuman TLM-103 microphone and a Zoom F4 digital recorder. I post process all audio files using Adobe Audition CC and apply these filters & effects: Notch filter at 4700Hz to remove a “jingle” in my voice, iZotope De-Ess to remove sibiliance, iZotope DeBreath to quieten my breathing into the microphone, and iZotope Dynamic Noise Reduction to deaden ambient noise in the LockLab.
I edit and post process all video using Adobe Premier CC and use introductions and “fly in” effects produced with Adobe After Effects CC. My introductions are produced by MindZipper, my webmaster support using Adobe After Effects.
There are many other improvements I made to LockLab to raise the quality of audio and video. If you are interested in what they were, I did a video highlighting them. You can find it here:

Can you decode and re-key my Best padlock for me?

Sorry, but I don’t offer locksmithing services. The Best locks require specialized equipment which is very expensive. They also need a replugging tool, also expensive. Lastly, it’s almost impossible to decode a Best without the decoding block (another expensive piece of gear) and even with it, you can’t decode the master key – just the operating key. Your best bet is to drill out the old core and spend $20 on a new core to put into it.

Where can I find picks?

Lock picks are widely available on the Internet from many companies, just Google “Lock Picks”. Beware of cheap picks though, because they break easily and are made from cheap material. I’d recommend higher quality, name brand picks from companies like the ones found on the “Where to Buy Stuff” tab.  See my video “(375) Building Your First Lock Pick Kit” for details on building out your own custom kit.

How do you handle spool pins?

There are many types of security pins, not just spools – but they are the most common. I did a couple of videos on how to beat different types of security pins, take a look in the “”Security Pins” playlist.

Where can I get locks?

Get locks from more places than you can imagine! My first choice is friends, who continue to bring me locks they find. Also try yard sales, boot sales, discount stores, pawn shops, thrift stores, the Salvation Army and the Dollar Store. Ask at the You-Storage places too – often they have locks with no keys. Don’t forget Habitat for Humanity’s Restore stores for REALLY cheap locks. Lastly, try Craig’s list for almost free locks. You can also get locks cheap on eBay. Like I said, EVERYWHERE!

What pick set should I get?

I think that buying an organized pick “set” can be a mistake. Most sellers put at least 10-15 picks in their “sets”, many of which you will never use. Some of the “advanced sets” can have 50-60 picks. After picking for a while, you’ll find that you have a set of go-to picks – ones that you use all the time. I covered this in my video (375) Building Your First Lock Pick Kit. This kit is basically what I carry all the time – and have for several years. So, if you want a pick set, just build one yourself using the highest quality picks you can afford and buy them from quality, reputable companies like the ones found on the “Where to Buy Stuff” tab.

Can you send me some of those free picks?

Sorry, but all the picks I showed in video (438) FREE Peterson Picks for Newbies!!! on 2 December 2013 are gone. Within 30 minutes of posting that video I had over 500 messages asking for the 43 4-pick sets. The demand was overwhelming and I shipped samples all over the world (UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Macedonia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland and Spain), as well as 28 sets here in the US.  If I ever get flush with cash again or hit the lottery, I’ll post another video & first come, first serve again. In the meantime, if you decide to build one yourself using the highest quality picks you can afford and buy them from quality, reputable companies like the ones found on the “Where to Buy” tab. For more information, take a look at the video I did on the subject: (375) Building Your First Lock Pick Kit. This kit is basically what I carry all the time.

Can I get some free locks from you?

Unfortunately, I am a hobby lock picker – just like almost all of you. I have no corporate sponsors or organizations donating picks and locks (Mostly, I steal money out of my wife’s purse to pay for my locks…). That being said, I do trade locks very frequently with others in the lock picking community. If you have locks you’d like to trade, send me a PM and we’ll see what we can work out.

How can I become a Locksmith?

I am not a locksmith but know and work with a number of them. Almost to a T, they are creative, hard working, honest people that get a lot of satisfaction from their work. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of dedication to be a locksmith because there is MUCH more to it than just picking locks. My impression is that they are good with people, outgoing, well spoken, and knowledgeable in a number of areas (installation, repairs, fire codes & exit regulations, cars, commercial locking systems, etc, etc.) I can only imagine that it would be a very challenging field because things are changing so rapidly in the security business. For required training and experience you should check with a local locksmith because the State requirements vary widely from State to State. Good luck. Oh yeah, when you make it big please send me all your extra “weird” locks so I can make videos about them.

What are some good lock forums?

Check out the “Forums and Organizations” page for a list of forums.

Do I need a locksmith license or LEO credentials to buy lock picks?

No.  Many of the sites have a disclaimer saying that this is so, but it’s a CYA for them in case you do something stupid with their product. Think about it: hundreds of dealers are selling picks on Amazon.  Why would the manufacturers be any different?  Their only requirement is that you must have the $$.  Having said that, it’s up to YOU to make sure you are complying with your local laws.

Is it legal for me to own lock picks?

No idea, Countries have different laws, as do most States in the US.  You can check here to be sure. http://toool.us/laws.html

Help! I picked my lock but now it’s stuck halfway around!

No problem, your driver pins have been pushed down into the keyway.  Simply use the back of a pick to push them back up where they belong, and turn the core.