13 January 2013
UNDER LOCK AND KEY
I've long been intrigued by the lock picker's art. In movies and on TV shows, it seems that spies, criminals, and police detectives have all mastered the ability to insert two oddly-shaped metal shafts into a lock, do some mysterious finger dance, et voila! ~ the lock springs open, and entry (legal or illegal) is secured.
Lock picking turns out to be not all that mysterious, once one has gained instruction and practice. Above is an animation showing the movements of a typical pin tumbler lock's innards as the key is inserted (click to enlarge). Here is a web link to an animation illustrating the opening such a lock with picks rather than a key.
It is not only cops, bad guys, and spies who pick locks. Most frequently they are employed legitimately by locksmiths. Here is a description of the process, including locks, tools, and legal status.