In between writing for Hackaday, most of us (if not all of us) like to design projects on our own, creating whatever might come to mind. I, for instance, enjoy experimenting with lock picking techniques at industrial, gritty, and real warehouses in Southern California learning how to utilize the resources there, turning spare parts into something completely different.
One such skill I learned is how easy it is to make lock picking sets from discarded scraps of metal. The documentation is found on a personal blog of mine called HackerTrips (we cover our own stuff sometimes). It contains several photos and descriptions of the process involved which I picked up thanks to a hackerspace in Fullerton where local makers dream up all kinds of interesting projects.
The project starts out by walking on the streets, which is a rarity these days. This is because the general modes of transportation now are either a car, a bus, a subway, a train, a bike, or a plane, which puts the attention on the destination at hand rather than peering into the fractures of the road. This means that a lot of the time, people don’t notice the hidden treasures found on the side of the street, including the street sweeper bristles that have been knocked off their edges.
They are usually uncovered within cracks of the concrete where the street machine sweepers gnaw their steel teeth from time to time on the disrupted seams of asphalt, leaving behind battered bits of metal, which are the perfect size for feeling their way into the pins of a lock. Once collected, the steel can be heated up, then promptly cooled in liquid, and fashioned into fingering picks or wavy rakes and tension wrenches. A simple bench grinder can be used to cut grooves in the spring steel into the necessary points, but a handheld file tool does the job too.
Other types of spare metal that are good for unlocking include blued steel fishing tape, stiffening bars that run down the sides of various wiper blades, handle wire from binder clips, and stationary paperclips converted into lock picks. However, the street sweeper approach is one of the most fascinating because it acts like an Easter egg hunt, giving the curious road walker a sense of accomplishment when handfuls of leftover material are transformed into eye-opening, lock picking tools.
Now with great power, comes great responsibility. I wouldn’t recommend going around town, picking every lock nearby, unless it’s for educational purposes…for science! Trust me, you don’t want to show this technique to the wrong person; they will freak out, or arrest you. But raising awareness that lock picking sets can be made with ordinary scraps of metal is a good thing.
Whether you embrace the skill, or are nervous of the consequences, all this project shows is that it can be done. Just a bit of ingenuity transforms a metal bristle that most people have no idea exists for use in an unexpected way.