Locksmithing – The Tools of the Trade

Locksmithing - The Tools of the Trade

When I was (much, much) younger I used to ponder over those full page ads in the back of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines – “Become a Locksmith!”. More than once I decided that this might be perfect for me – if it wasn’t for the cost of that damn course!

As it is, I never did pursue that glorious locksmithing dream (oh, whoa is me J). But, I did find this article that pretty much sums up what I missed…

Locksmith professionals need to put several thousands of dollars into their particular equipment and tools commitment.

They may start out investing hundreds of dollars, which inevitable increases into the thousands (or tens of thousands) as their business grows. When a professional locksmith wants to branch out into additional specialties, numerous additional tools are required for each area of expertise.

Besides the “regular” tools of the trade – like key blanks, a key making machine, and so on – a practitioner has to break down all the various key blanks into distinct categories and purchase additional items to go along with these. The key blanks themselves? They come in a minimum of six unique residential variations (from $5 to in excess of $50), at least ten variations of commercial key blanks, and numerous motor vehicle key blanks for domestic and foreign automobiles/trucks.

How can the locksmith expect to keep pace with all the various keys? By acquiring key tags, storage compartments, and key towers (towers with no blanks are about $500).

Then there’s least six different kinds of key cutters. A manual key duplicator costs $400 to $600; a semi-automatic one costs $600 to $1600; an automatic duplicator runs $800 to $1300; and the tubular duplicator costs between $400 and $1200. Key code cutters run between $1900 and $3100, and the cutter wheels that cost in the range of $30 to $350.

A locksmith needs pinning kits and pins, pick sets, wrenches, and a passel of different locks. There are government locks, hospital locks, electronic locks, gate hardware, locks for furniture, electromagnetic locks, and biometric fingerprint locks. These all range from $200 to $700.

All locksmiths who have trained with a specialty school will understand Kwikset locks and IICO key makers. These are the equipment standards used to train locksmiths, and dozens of academies exist with courses intended to the craftsperson’s education.

We can’t forget about transponder keys. These are the vehicle ignition keys that require a special machine for encoding. Vehicles with enhanced security make use of electromagnetic fields of energy read by the car’s computer. (Another example of technology intruding into our lives.) Encoding keys like this adds increased security for the vehicle owner and reduces costs for insurance companies.

Older vehicles are still operating that permit using the Slim Jim door tool, and the majority of locksmiths keep one of these simple tools handy as well. In addition to supporting those who don’t own the more sophisticated vehicles, one can find collectors of antiques who will likely not want their automobiles ruined. Hence, the locksmith should know the right way to open the vehicles in a way that requires a minimum amount of forced entry. Even those that don’t own high-priced cars are proud of what they own and will not likely take pleasure in any damage.

In summary, there is a lot a qualified locksmith is required to learn. A good deal of it is often retained by practice. Numerous locks make use of similar tools and techniques to unlock. However, for the tons of info that can’t be memorized, the locksmith must rely on old fashioned manuals, laptops, tablets, and documents that are retained for reference.

So, there you have it. I’m actually kind of happy now that my wallet was so thin at the time I saw those ads. Because it looks like after all that it could have gotten much thinner quite quickly!

Until next time…

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