This was a post to our blog way back in 2012, but it’s still popular, so I wanted to copy it here on the new site. It’s still just as relevant today as it was back then!
Posted On: December 03, 2012
by Steve Palumbo
Originally this was going to be an article on lockpicking for beginners… however the research for that was doing awful things to this author’s underlying paranoia disorder so – 10 interesting facts on locksmithing! Locksmiting is a fairly old practice that requires skill, experience, and a trustworthy nature. As previously mentioned there are a lot of people out there who want to pick locks and their need for information has been met – extensively. That is why locksmiths tend to be, well let’s look at fact number one:
- It is the custom of locksmiths to undergo an apprenticeship.
That said you can also take college courses, be trained on the job, or go to prison and learn it as a trade. I don’t understand that last one either. The reason for apprenticeships is that besides the knowledge passed along, you also have a screening of students to make sure they aren’t a crime wave waiting to happen. Another part of that is locksmiths are generally “bonded” which is legalese for “not a crook guys seriously”. Then again when even an apprentice is able to defeat most typical security measures you can’t really be too careful.
- They don’t want competition.
That isn’t really too surprising since most people – most businesses don’t want to deal with competitors. The amusing or interesting aspect of this comes up in that people tend to call multiple locksmiths and if they’re all timely in response… it can be awkward. It is estimated that 3 out of 5 locksmiths will encounter this situation at least once. Getting locked out is of course serious business, but try not to panic and call every smith in the book.
- Harry Houdini worked as a locksmith for free prior to his career.
Yes I know – it seems a bit of a leap, but Houdini was not known for his love of competition. In fact he may well have been even more protective of his secrets then Apple and those guys are hardcore. But I digress – the man known as the greatest escape artist learned much of his secrets via practicing and studying many, many real locks. Which brings us to our next point –
- A good locksmith can duplicate near any key.
Yes that includes any keys you might have that say random things like, “do not duplicate”. With the right skill set a locksmith can easily duplicate most keys including automatic keys – something to remember the next time a car dealer claims only they can do so. That said if you’re looking for something with more security most locksmiths recommend hitting up a hardware store and getting high-security locks that come with keys impossible to copy. Of course a trained locksmith may not need a key if your dead bolt is faulty, and they would know because –
- Locksmiths are dead bolt experts.
It may well be that this is a case where practice makes perfect. One of the most common problems locksmiths are called for is issues with dead bolts. Unfortunately even a professional contractor can screw up when installing them, which leaves the ignorant consumer rather vulnerable to break-ins.
- Locksmithing combines the skills of carpenter, mechanic, machinist, and security expert.
This isn’t too surprising considering in the course of their work they need to understand the mechanics of various locks, assess how secure a lock may be, remove or repair locks, and/or copy out keys. Of course the particulars of any one locksmith’s skill set will be determined by their niche because –
- Locksmiths are defined by their particular space in the market leading to significant differences in skill sets.
It makes sense when you think about it after all – a locksmith specializing in residential service will be geared toward carpentry since they have to do more outfitting and/or replacement jobs. Someone dealing with industrial locksmithing is often times geared more to technology while someone specializing in electronic safety will be very focused on the security aspect.
- There are actual safe crackers in the world.
At least this is less of a jump than the Houdini one – security aspects and safe cracking are like right next to each other. Sadly it is nothing like the movies so that is just really unfortunate for all those potential thieves and Mission Impossible fans out there. The art of safe cracking demands information of several kinds of safes, metallurgy, a keen grasp of digital technology, the ability to operate complex drilling equipment, and much more – that just to get started never mind trying to master it.
- Prices can change based on circumstances.
So, not everyone is going to lock themselves out between the hours of 9 and 5 on a sunny day in a decent neighborhood when it is a balmy 75 degrees. In fact most people are not going to be like in that totally improbable scenario – which is why many people are going to get charged a bit more than they might have otherwise. Generally the locksmiths aren’t going to be gypping them, but they are going to be adding a little extra to the final total. Usually the extra is somewhere between 4-10% of the basic price, but it go a little higher if it’s an “emergency”. That said at least one locksmith charged a lot dearer then that –
- The locksmith Gamain betrayed Louis XVI to the revolutionaries.
For those who might have had a nap that day in history class I’m going to present spoilers: Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette (of eat cake fame), and their kids all caught the blade of the guillotine during the French Revolution. Francois Gamain was instrumental in that due to his betrayal of Louis after 20 years of friendship amusing themselves in the royal locksmith-workshop. The saddest part is that Louis had thought Gamain loyal beyond the possibility of betrayal.
And that’s all I got… for now!