Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World

Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World

A book was written by a national treasure Dave McOmie, quite possibly the best safe and vault technicians in not only the united states but the world. Always enthusiastic about his career and humble as well one of my favorite quotes I can remember from a class of Daves I took in Texas “There isn’t a safe or vault on this planet I can’t open, however, one of my greatest fears is locking the keys in my car because I wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to get them out”.

Dave truly pioneered the industry with multiple books, classes, penetration parties, and the forum-based website NSO ( National Safecrackers Organization) Daves’s contributions to the industry will be put in the history books for decades to come.This is a fantastic read for both the industry professional and the interested hobbyist who finds safe and vaults interesting, you won’t be disappointed in this purchase,  simply click the link below to place your order today!

Excerpt from Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World —Chapter 2: Your Host:

“As a kid, I was enamored with Alexander Mundy, the debonair safecracker from the 1960s television series, It Takes a Thief. So enamored, in fact, that I enrolled in a locksmithing home-study course and later landed an apprenticeship at a local shop. I found my passion, then my job. It turned into a career.

“My interest in the key-cutting side of the business faded as I became familiar with safes and vaults. The supreme challenge was opening them, and this was reflected in the value difference: we charged five bucks to rekey a door lock, and five hundred to drill a tough safe. It was like learning the coolest magic tricks ever, and getting paid for it.”

Description

Product Description

 

Like a character in a Hitchcock movie, Dave McOmie travels the country breaking into bank vaults, cracking jewelry store safes, and decoding unbreakable codes secured deep in government facilities.

 

Safecracker reveals a shadowy world where tumblers are twirled, skeletons are exposed, and longstanding mysteries are solved. You’ll ride shotgun with Dave for one crazy week, beginning with an impenetrable vault in Vegas with a midnight deadline, and ending with Prince’s ultra-secure music vault in the basement of Paisley Park. In between are factual stories that read like fiction: drilling the same model ATM from the notorious episode of Breaking Bad; meeting a mystery man from the Department of Defense at a remote location to crack two high security safes; chronicling the corruption and ineptitude that dogged efforts to develop the first electronic safe lock to guard our national secrets; tackling a hundred-year-old antique bank vault in downtown Salt Lake City, and more….

 

What’s in all these safes and vaults? Gold and silver, drugs and cash, guns and ammo, family heirlooms and X-rated paraphernalia. And a few secrets that should have remained secret.

 

Shhhhh!

Review

 

When we needed to consult a safecracker for one of our movies, Dave McOmie was the obvious choice. His expertise and wit were matched only by his fantastic stories: drilling the Vegas vault (like Ocean’s Eleven but real!), cracking special safes for the government, opening the late Prince’s bank vault at Paisley Park, and more. These adventures form the core of Safecracker, a fun and fascinating memoir that breaks new ground in the genre — there isn’t anything remotely like it.

 

— Adam Yorke, Head of Development, Wildling Pictures

 

If Jobs and Wozniak had combined their DNA into one person with a passion for safes rather than computers, the result would have been (something very much like) Dave McOmie. Dave is as comfortable with abstract concepts as he is with concrete details, and his innovative safecracking classes have long been the industry gold standard. He is a living legend, and Safecracker is hands-down his best book.

 

— Rick Rolland, Chief Executive Officer, Rolland Safe Co., Inc.

 

 

Ask professional safecrackers who they want in their corner on a tough safe or vault, and they’ll answer in unison: “Dave McOmie.” Dave’s knowledge of his arcane craft is unrivaled, and Safecracker is your backstage pass into the shrouded, whispery world he inhabits.

 

— Martin Holloway, covert entry specialist and President, Hollotec

 

 

The weight of all the drill bits Dave McOmie has used in his long and storied career would sink the Titanic. He’s a monster. He’s also the most prolific author in the field. But in Safecracker, Dave has outdone himself. You’ll root for him when the pressure is on, cheer at each victory, and cross your fingers for a sequel!

 

— Jeff Volosing, President, StrongArm Inc.

 

 

Dave McOmie’s books and articles line the shelves of almost every lock and safe shop in the country. Whether he’s drilling a bank vault, opening a secret safe on a covert op, or teaching Burt Reynolds how to crack safes for a movie, Dave’s adventures have informed and entertained working professionals for decades. Talented wordsmiths are rare, master safecrackers even rarer. Dave is both.

 

— Lance Mayhew, Ada County Lock and Safe, Idaho

 

 

There are givers and takers in this world. Dave McOmie is a giver. He has trained several generations of field technicians, and quite literally wrote the books that the rest of us rely on every day. The truth is, most of us wouldn’t be where we are without him.

 

— C.D. Lipscomb, Navco Safe & Lock, Texas

 

 

Dave’s books and articles jump-started my interest in safes and vaults. Attending one of his famed Penetration Parties was like playing in a football game with Vince Lombardi coaching. Unforgettable.

 

— Michael Jennings, Solid Lock and Safe, Louisiana

 

 

Other than my father, Dave McOmie was the single greatest influence on my career as a safe and vault technician. His willingness to share information and his ability to teach are unparalleled.

 

— Michael McElheney, McElheney Locksmiths, Ohio

 

 

When your vault is locked, don’t go off half-cocked: Call Dave!

 

— Rusty Bramblett, Bramblett Locksmith, Florida

 

Generous with his knowledge and intensely loyal to his industry colleagues, Dave McOmie is the go-to guy when a tough safe or vault is reluctant to reveal its secrets.

 

— T. A. Martin, Antique Safes, Wisconsin

 

Dave McOmie’s dedication to his craft and his fellow safecrackers is matchless. There isn’t anyone quite like the master.

 

— Scott Clark, S.G. Clark Safe Services, New York

 

Every industry has its hero and mentor. In the safe and vault world, we have Dave McOmie.

 

— W. Scott Maness, Blair and Sons Locksmith, Alabama

 

Dave has been the single biggest influence on my career as a professional safe technician. He’s always willing to help, and I‘m eternally grateful for it.

 

— Walt Peterson, Floyd Security, Minnesota

 

If you are in the business of opening safes and vault, Dave is the guy you want to know.

 

— Ernie Lay, BranchServ, North Carolina

 

If it weren’t for Dave, I wouldn’t be the safecracker I am today. Virtually everyone in the trade today can say the same thing.

 

— James Green, Peifer Lock, Tennessee

 

 

Dave’s depth of knowledge on safes and vaults is peerless. He’s truly one of a kind.

 

— J. Drew Van Deventer, Alpine Safe and Lock, Florida

 

 

 

Many years ago, I met Dave McOmie at a convention, but he was so low key I didn’t know who he was. I told him safecracking was pretty simple now that some guy is writing technical books on the subject. My father later pointed out that the guy I was talking to was the author of those very books.

 

— Jacob Feinberg, Carl’s Locksmith Service, Massachusetts

 

 

 

When you need a hand, Dave’s the man!

 

— Jerry Kruss, Certified Lock & Safe, California

 

 

 

Dave McOmie is the authority on safes and vaults. Period. He’s also a great guy, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”

 

— Jim Wiedman, President, Associated Locksmiths of America

 

 

 

Dave McOmie’s books and classes have advanced the skills of thousands of safe and vault technicians around the globe. No other person has had a greater impact on the industry.

 

— Mike Potter, President, Safe and Vault Technicians Association

 

Links provided on this page for the book are affiliate links.
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About the Author

 

Dave McOmie is editor-at-large at The International Safecracker and a member of the Safe & Vault Technicians Hall of Fame. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Washington and resides in the Evergreen State with his wife and children

By |2021-08-09T01:12:03+00:00August 5th, 2021|Book Review, Safe and Vault, Safes, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Review: The National Locksmith Guide to: Advanced Wafer Lock Reading by Robert Sieveking

The National Locksmith Guide to: Advanced Wafer Lock Reading by Robert Sieveking 

ISBN: 193592064-2
Publisher: Sieveking Products Company
Pages: 243 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 5 ½”  
Price: $49
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.

Contents 

  1. The Wafer Lock A good introduction to wafer locks, including the GM sidebar lock, master-keyed wafer locks, single-sided, double-sided convenience, and true double sided locks. 
  2. Wafer Lock Reading Tools  A discussion of Key-Scope and Welch Allyn Otoscopes, a wafer depressor/reader that Sieveking sells, and how to make a spring shutter tool to help with automotive doors. 
  3. Key Making Techniques  How to lay out spacings on keys even when the spaces are unknown, how to do it via impressioning, and a discussion of depths and filing technique.  
  4. The Reading Method  How to use an otoscope and a tool to pull down the wafers one at a time and read them. 
  5. Reading Cabinet Locks  Goes over specific locks and their unique characteristics as applies to sight reading: Guissani flush T-handle, L-handles from Yale, National, and Bauer, T-handles from Bauer and National, and furniture/tool box locks from Haworth, Corbin, CompX, Shaw Walker Pundra, Huwil, Fort, Hon, ESP, National, Global, Staples, and Hurd.  In some cases, spaces and depths are given, along with key blanks and other useful information.  There are a model or two that would throw off most locksmiths and this chapter describes how to deal with them.   
  6. Chrysler 7 Wafer Y-154 This, and the other automotive sections, shows how to use the Fast Facts books to find the key blank, spaces and depths, and what positions the wafers are in in the various locks on a car.  It walks through an example of each lock. 
  7. Chrysler 7 Wafer Y-157 
  8. Chrysler 8 Wafer Y-159 
  9. Ford 10 Wafer H-54 
  10. Ford 8 Wafer H-75 
  11. GM 10 Wafer 
  12. GM “Z” Wafer 
  13. GM 6 Wafer Side Bar These cannot be sight read the normal way, but there is a work around. 
  14. Foreign Autos This covers dealing with stepped wafers 
  15. Motorcyles 

Overview

This is an exhaustive book on making keys for disc tumbler locks via sight reading.  It is a very useful skill when a key cannot be made by code.  Impressioning is often used to make keys for locks without codes, but impressioning can be rough on locks and can be time consuming.  Sight reading is where a locksmith looks into a disc tumbler lock, observes the relative heights of the wafers, and cuts a key accordingly. 
The first time you look into a lock, write down the observed disc heights, cut a key accordingly by space and depth, and it works the first try—that is a mile stone.  It can be fast and has no risk of damaging a lock—so easy it is almost fun.  But it does require some skill and some special tools.  The Foley-Belsaw course, and the old Locksmithing Institute course each had a chapter on sight reading, but they were just enough, in my opinion, to introduce the topic.  There could be a steep learning curve going up against anything but the most ordinary locks.   
This is where this book comes in.  It goes over a lot of the potential landmines and could save someone a lot of frustration in learning the skill. 
It is a useful skill in automotive locksmithing, but it can be used for non-automotive wafer locks as well.  This book devotes a very large chapter, around 60 pages, to sight reading non-automotive locks, including nuances specific to certain locks that could throw you off.  So it is a useful book even if you have no interest in automotive work but do need to make keys for office furniture, L and T-handle locks, or locks for tool boxes. 
Sieveking has a less-expensive book for an introduction to sight reading, but for a little more, why not get the big book?

By |2018-09-27T09:00:09+00:00September 27th, 2018|All, Book Review|0 Comments

Review: Jake Jakubuwski Presents: Aluminum Stile Door Service and Repair by Jake Jakubuwski

Jake Jakubuwski Presents: Aluminum Stile Door Service and Repair by Jake Jakubuwski

ISBN: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Pages: 423 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 11”  
Price: $9.99
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.

Contents

Part 1 – Parts and Hardware Overview
1. Pivots
2. Hinges
3. Locks and latches
4. Exit devices
Part 2 – Installation Procedures and Practices
1. Pivots (Includes a section on pivot deactivators)
2. Hinges  (He really likes continuous hinges)
3. Locks and Latches (Mainly about Adams-Rite style locks)
4. Exit devices

Overview

The first part goes over the components and terminology, how they go together and so on. The second part goes over installation and repair.
The book has two good strengths: first, Jake has a fairly engaging writing style–he can impart a lot of information and make it interesting; second, the installation and repair portion is not just reprinting vendor handbooks, instead it is full of beginning to end projects with a lot of photographs.
The book avoids the trap of explaining how things work when everything goes well.  The real world is not like that.  Bolts strip, things rust, and so on.  Doors take a lot of abuse and a locksmith may not be called until things are ugly.  He shows how to overcome real world problems when dealing with doors in very bad shape.  This book may be the next best thing to watching over the shoulder of a locksmith who installs and maintains these types of doors. 
For anyone considering servicing aluminum store-front doors, it is a great resource and a no-brainer at that price. 

By |2018-03-10T10:59:11+00:00March 10th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments

Review: The National Locksmith Guide: Door Lock Encyclopedia by Robert G. Sieveking

The National Locksmith Guide: Door Lock Encyclopedia by Robert G. Sieveking

ISBN: N/A
Publisher: Sieveking Products Company
Pages: 218 Pages
Dimensions: 8 ½” x 5 ½”  
Price: $49
Purchase Instructions: Via the author’s web site.

Contents

  1. Tools and Recombinating Cylinders
  2. American Eagle 5300 deadbolt, 5500 lockset, and 8500L lockset
  3. Arrow M and H locksets, and E, F, and D deadbolts.
  4. Corbin 6600 and 400 locksets
  5. Dexter 3000, 7000, and 4100 locksets
  6. Harlock 7900, and 700 locksets, and 59-920 and 59-940 deadbolts
  7. Kwikset 400 lockets, and 660 and 880 deadbolts
  8. Lori 4500 deadbolts
  9. Master locksets and deadbolts
  10. National / Amerock 441D locksets, and 497L deadbolts
  11. Sargent 6, 7, and 8 locksets
  12. Schlage A, D, and F locksets, and B deadbolts. Also a chapter on Schlage wafer locks and a chapter on hotel/motel cylinders.
  13. Weiser A 500, 530, and E 520 locksets, and D9470 and D9370 deadbolts.
  14. Yale 5280 lockset.

Overview

There are two parts to the book. The first 41 pages are mainly about repinning cylinders in general. The remainder of the book gives detailed, illustrated directions on how to remove and replace the cylinder for various key-in-knob and deadbolt locks. The book devotes 3 – 5 pages per lock, depending on the complexity of the given lock.  
The first 41 pages of the book is a good guide on pinning cylinders: MACS, good and bad cut combinations, top pin sizing, checking for master pins, shimming, removing and replacing retainers, and hints on identifying locksets by keyways. It assumes the reader has never worked on locks before but has a lot of practical advice so it’s still a good read for the beginner who has keyed cylinders before. The book has a few pages describing the more common lock functions, door handing, and common finish codes. 
Each lock section has hints on identification, including what different key ways they shipped with. There is a space and depth chart for each lock along with the LAB .003 pins that correspond to each cut. But the main point is a series of several photos and text that describes in detail how to get out the cylinder and then put it back together again. 
A plus to the book is that it has a great intro to pinning locks, and the detailed instructions could save someone a lot of frustration when dealing with an unfamiliar lock. It would seem to be good for a new apprentice rekeying locks behind the counter and could be handy for someone to review for a lock they have not worked on in a long time. 
The negative to the book is that it is becoming out of date. Nothing about Kwikset Titan, lever locks, etc. A mitigating factor, though, maybe that while instructions on rekeying newer model locks are freely available from the manufactures on line, some of the models in the book are still out there but may be hard to find online.  It would be a good companion to Servicing Lever Handle Cylindrical Locks by J. I. Levine. 
This book is not to be confused with the Lock Repair Manual by The National Locksmith–that book is a collection of random articles on locks and, in my opinion, is not worth more than a buck or two. 

By |2018-03-10T10:46:49+00:00March 10th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments

Review: Servicing Lever Handle Cylindrical Locks by J. I. Levine

Servicing Lever Handle Cylindrical Locks by J. I. Levine

ISBN: N/A
Publisher: Locksmith Publishing Corp.
Pages: ~50 Pages
Dimensions: 8 1/2″ x 11″  
Price: N/A
Purchase Instructions: Via the ALOA Webstore or Lockmasters.

Contents

  1. Arrow Sierra H
  2. Best 9K
  3. Corbin Russwin CL3200
  4. Corbin Russwin CL3400
  5. Kwikset Winston
  6. Lockwood 900
  7. Marks 195
  8. Medeco Embassy-17
  9. Medeco Embassy-19
  10. NT Falcon T
  11. PDQ SP
  12. S. Parker 8161
  13. Sargent 6500
  14. Schlage D
  15. Schlage S
  16. Yale 5400L

Overview

The section for each lock, usually about 4 pages in length, lists the available keyways, the keyblanks (including aftermarket), combinating information and pin lengths, door prep (including installation jigs), cylinder removal and rekeying, an exploded diagram, and sometimes changing the handing and timing.
The book also includes a list of locks that are similar to each other, e.g., if one is working on a Russwin 800, a the instructions for a Corbin-Russwin CL3400 apply. It also contains some information about working with IC’s, including removal methods.
It has a good number of drawings but few photos, and that could impact how well a person could identify the make and model of the lock. It was published by Locksmith Publishing Corp, which does not seem to be active anymore.  It would be a good companion to the National Locksmith Door Lock Encyclopedia by Robert Sieveking, which only dealt with knob locks.

By |2018-03-10T10:24:37+00:00March 10th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments

Introductory Locksmithing Books and Courses: Ranked and Reviewed

Introduction

There are many introductory books and courses on locksmithing available.  It’s important to note that any trade that can be learned by simply reading a book is hardly a trade worth getting into, and locksmithing is no exception.  There is no substitute for extensive hands-on experience.  At best, these books and courses let you know if locksmithing is something you are really interested in. Additionally, they can impart some of the lingo and basic techniques of the trade.  Reading through them would be the first of many steps towards becoming a proficient locksmith.
As a final note, these books and courses can be ordered by bookstores, are at some libraries, and can usually be found used on eBay, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book dealers. While I do mention certain businesses in specific context it does not mean these books are limited to that specific business.
With that said, here are introductory locksmithing books and courses ranked in order of desirability, based strictly on my opinion:

First Place:  


First place goes to buying a used Locksmithing Institute or Foley Belsaw course on eBay.  Sometimes they do not go for much money.  They, like every other book, do not cover everything, and do not cover new developments, but they tend to cover the basics very well and they are well illustrated.  If buying a really old copy, note that filing down lock pins should not be done these days given the pinning kits now available.  Buying one of those old binders, collecting a box of old locks to practice on, and buying some basic locksmith tools would be a good start. 

Second Place: 


Locksmithing From Apprentice to Master, Joseph Rathjen, Copyright 1994, ISBN 0-07-051645-6, 309 pages, 7″ X 9″.
Table of Contents:
1. Locksmithing Intro / Getting Started
2. Tools
3. Jobs / Certifications / Law / Setting up Shop
4. Types of Locks
5. Lock Functions
6. High Security Locks
7. Door Closers
8. Keys, Spacings and Depths
9. Master Keying
10. Interchangeable Cores
11. Automotive Locksmithing
12. Alarms
This book has its weak points and strong points. The weaknesses are:
1. The title includes “from apprentice to master”. The “master” should have been left off. I think the book has some good parts, but master locksmithing it is not.
2. It does not go over picking, impressioning, or bypassing–Rathjen did not believe in letting that information out.  Fair enough, but an aspiring locksmith would need to learn about these subjects somewhere else.
3. The automotive section is 20 years out of date, and does not go over opening cars–a traditional source of revenue for new locksmiths.
4. It has a door closer section, but it is very light. It does not go over door closer sizes, does not mention ADA (which had become law a few years before this book was published), etc. Maybe better than nothing but not really enough for one to offer one’s services for door closer installation and repair.
5. It has a section on going into business for oneself but seems to be more oriented towards setting up a storefront than establishing a mobile service. Being published 20 years ago it cannot help being out of date on advertising and such.
The strengths are:
1. It does not have a lot of filler material and the writing is direct and to the point.  A lot of information per page. 
2. It has a twenty page section on master keying, and I think it would be enough to actually get someone started with the rotating constant progression method.
3. It has a 17 page section on interchangeable core locks. It goes in detail on how to work with Best SFIC, and briefly touches on Schlage and Medecco.
4. It has an almost 50 page section on alarms. It goes over hardwired systems. From designing the system, setting up the panel, running wires, installing sensors, etc.  It is thorough for when it was written and probably still good background information for someone interested in them.  
It is long out of print, but can be picked up cheap from Amazon and other used book sellers.  At the current used prices, this book gives the most bang for the buck.   

Third Place (tie): 


The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing, 7th Edition, by Bill Phillips, copyright 2017, ISBN 978-1-25-983468-4, 648 pages, 7 1/4″ X 9″
Table of Contents:
1. Lock history
2. Tools
3. Types of locks and keys
4. Warded locks
5. Lever tumbler locks
6. Disc tumbler locks
7. Pin tumbler locks
8. High security locks
9. Masterkeying
10. Smart Locks
11. Buying and selling safes
12. Keyed padlocks
13. Home and business services
14. Lock picking and impressioning
15. Automotive
16. Opening locked cars
17. Forced entry
18. Combination locks
19. Electrical access control
20. Working as a locksmith
21. Key duplication machines
This book is the first locksmithing book that a lot of beginners read. It is fairly comprehensive. It is published by McGraw-Hill, and is marketed to bookstores, libraries, etc. First, some background on the book. The first couple of editions were written by C.A. Roper. Then Roper and Phillips co-authored. Then later on, Phillips was listed as the sole author. Do not be surprised if an early edition lists Roper as the author. 
The strength of the book is that it does a fairly good job of going over the basic basics.  Clear writing and good illustrations.  The weakness of the book is that parts of it are very shallow, other parts are dated, and it is bloated with material cut-and-paste from manufacturer’s literature.  Literature that anyone can download for free off the internet. As an example, the section on automotive is badly dated.  It goes over AMC cars and the latest technology it discusses is GM VATS.  Nothing about transponder technology and nothing about modern opening tools. 
In the page after page of cut-and-paste filler, it devotes 22 pages to the installation instructions of the Schlage model G.  That lockset went out of production in 1981.  Meanwhile, it has nothing about, for example, the Kwikset Smartkey locks.  In electronic locks, it goes over Dialocs and Memorilocks, but does not mention the Alarm Lock Trilogy. 
It does not go over door closers and does not have much by way of life safety codes, the ADA, etc.  The chapter on working as a locksmith makes no mention of being a mobile locksmith and advertising is mainly concerned about hanging a good sign in front of the shop. 
The book really does not go into detail about cutting keys by code.  While it goes over the fairly uncommon Framon DBM-1 flat key duplicator, it does not mention the Framon #2 or the HPC 1200 which are very common code machines for locksmiths, new and old. 
There is no meaningful discussion of interchangeable core locks. It gives a picture of one, but does not really go into enough detail to actually do anything.
Where the book does have value is in a fairly comprehensive treatment of the basics: types of locks, how they work, how to rekey them, etc. Basically what was in the 2nd edition from 1983. Bottom line, if you want the basics in one book, then get The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing, but get the cheapest edition you can find.  Early editions go for almost nothing used and they have the basics, but not the filler. 

Third Place (tie): 


Locksmithing, Bill Phillips, Copyright 2010, ISBN 978-0-07-162275-2, 412 pages 7″ X 9″.
Table of Contents:
1. Business of locksmithing
2. Types of locks and keys
3. Key blanks
4. Warded, lever tumbler, disc tumbler, and side bar wafer locks
5. Pin tumblers
6. Tools
7. Key-in-knob, deadbolt, and cylinder mortise locks
8. High security locks (CoreKey, DOM, Kaba Gemini, Medeco, and Schlage Primus)
9. Simplex Locks
10. Picking, impressioning, and bypassing
11. Masterkeying
12. Safe basics
13. Drilling safes
14. Key bumping
15. Key code machines (KD80, Exacta, Borkey 989, and Framon DC-300)
16. Automotive Locksmithing
17. CCTV
18. Access Control, Alarms, and Systems Integration
19. Working as a Locksmith
This book is basically The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing but with a couple of hundred pages of filler removed.  It may be easier for someone new to the trade to read through—it seems to be a little better organized in that regard.  The sections on automotive and key machines are no better than the other book.  CCTV and Access control chapters are high level, not much practical information in them. 

Fifth Place: 


Shankle and Shankle Comprehensive Manual of Locksmthing, R.H. and M.D Shankle, Copyright 1994, ISBN 0-9640733-0-7, 584 pages, 7″ X 10″.
Table of Contents:
1. History of Locks
2. Pin Tumbler Locks and Keys
3. Basic Tools
4. Key Machines — Basically the handbooks for the Ilco 017, the MK2 Exacta Punch, and the Framon DBM-1 Flat Key Machine.
5. Types of Locks and Keys
6. Services — Goes over work that Locksmiths perform, then goes into detail on rekeying common door locks. Almost 100 pages in this chapter.
7. High Security Locks and Keys — Medeco (40 pages), Corbin Emhart, Schlage Primus, Assa Twin, and DOM.
8. Disc Wafer Locks and Keys
9. Master Keying — There is enough to this chapter to enable one to actually create a simple master key system.
10. Double Bitted Locks and Keys — (Doubled sided wafer locks)
11. Warded Locks and Keys
12. Lever Locks and Keys
13. Automotive Locks and Keys — With the book being more than 20 years old it is out of date. VATS is the latest technology in the chapter. No transponder keys.
14. Vending Machine Locks and Keys — Tubular Locks
15. Combination Locks — For an intro book a fairly thorough section. Nothing on safe opening, but lots on combination changing and troubleshooting from an S&G handbook.
16. Pad Locks — How to re-key pad locks. Includes Abloy Disklocks.
17. Lock Decoding — A couple of paragraphs on reading wafer locks, and a few pages on the Lee Decoder Kit for lever locks.
18. Key Blank Reference. OK, but anyone serious about the subject would have the latest catalog from Ilco or Jet.
19. Lock Picking — Half a dozen pages, very basic. Nothing on security pins.
20. Law Related to Locksmithing — One page.
21. Starting a Locksmith Business — May have been good advice twenty years ago. Only marketing mentioned is the Yellow Pages.
22. Electronics — Access control, cameras, and an interesting section on fence intrusion detection systems.
This 1994 book might be seen as an alternate to Phillip’s book on locks and locksmithing. Compared to that book, it tends to be a little more advanced and practical in places, but may not be as a good a book for a complete beginner. It was self-published and is out of print, but used copies show up on Amazon and eBay.
It was probably written as both an introduction to locksmithing and as a handy all-in-one reference source for common locks. Where this books suffers is that it is not very well organized and might not be the best choice for a beginner. It is all there but skips around a bit. As a reference, it does have an index so at least one can find things. However, it was written a few years before the Internet became ubiquitous and much of the reference material can be found on-line.
Overall, if a beginner could only have one book, this would not be a bad one to have. But there are better books out there for beginners and as a reference source, it was a good idea in 1994, but much of the reference sections are available on-line these days. 

Sixth Place: 


Master Locksmithing, Bill Phillips, Copyright 2008, ISBN 978-0-07-148751-1, 9″ X 7″, 416 pages.
Table of Contents:
1. Types of locks (refresher)
2. Picking pin tumblers
3. Bumping
4. Impressioning
5. High Security Locks
6. Rekeying Kwiksets
7. Non-locking Door Hardware
8. Electronics
9. Emergency Exit Devices
10. Electric Strikes
11. Alarms
12. Magnetic Locks
13. CCTV
14. Access Control
15. Automotive Locks
16. Masterkeying
17. Safes – Buy and Sell
18. Safes – Drilling and Manipulating
19. Working as a Locksmith
20. Safe and Secure Home
21. Security Consulting
22. Appendixes: Finish Codes, assorted spaces and depths, suppliers, electrical schematics, suppliers, etc.
Phillips has a tendency to cut-and-paste a lot and in this book he goes on a rampage. One of the worst examples is reprinting 40 pages worth of a Kwikset guide on rekeying. First, rekeying the 400 Series Kwikset can be done by a lot of hardware stores—it is not the stuff of master locksmiths.  Second, if one wanted the Kwikset guide to rekeying, it is free to download anyway.
The most ridiculous cut-and-paste was the appendix on electrical schematic symbols—it is  apparently copied from an old amateur radio handbook.  How often do dipole antennas, headphones, telegraph keys, phono-jacks, and pentode vacuum tubes show up in locksmithing?  Pure filler.  
The bumping chapter is more cut and paste: nasty-grams between AOLA and Marc Tobias. One page on how to bump, and the solution to bumping is not to sell bump keys to the public. Nothing about bump resistant locks or how to make them bump resistant.
The impressioning chapter was very light on text, very basic. The high security chapter was about a dozen pages reprinted from ASSA. The electronics chapter was very basic, high school stuff on Ohms law. The emergency exits chapter was 16 pages of a handbook from Alarm Lock.  The electric strike chapter was one of the better chapters, about twenty pages from Adams-Rite.
The alarm systems chapter was very high-level. The magnetic lock chapter was mostly a reprint from Magnalock. CCTV was mostly useless. It does not even mention DVR’s or IP networked cameras. This was published in 2008 and it sort of implies that the only way to record footage is via a VHS recorder on 6 hour tapes.
Access Control was two pages. Automotive locks was very basic. Masterkeying started with a strange excursion into warded and lever locks, then 6 pages on pin tumblers. Not enough material to get anyone started, in my opinion.
Selling safes goes over some safe terminology. Drilling and Manipulating–finally, something exciting for an aspiring locksmith? It has a few high level pages about how safes can be drilled and there is one page on the concept of manipulation, but not enough to really do anything. After reading the Master Locksmithing chapter on drilling and manipulating the reader would be stumped by a SentrySafe from Walmart.  Granted, it is good that a book that would get a person started drilling safes is not sold to the public, but the book gives false hope that the reader will be able to do something useful with opening safes, and it does not.
Overall, it is bloated with manufacturer literature that is freely available and the material otherwise in the book is so high-level that I doubt that anyone could actually put much of it into practice, at least intially.  

Seventh Place: 


Complete Course In Professional Locksmithing by Robert Robinson, Published by Nelson-Hall in 1973. ISBN 0-911012-15-X, 399 pages, 8 1/2″ X 10″.
Table of Contents:
1. Mortise Lock and Panic Exit Device Construction
2. Rim and Cylindrical Locks
3. Key Operated Mechanisms
4. Utility Locks
5. Environmental Servicing
6. Key Duplicating and Code Key Cutting
7. Lock Coding and Masterkeying
8. Opening Doors, Equipment, and Automobiles
9. Lock Engineering Standards
10. Repair Techniques
11. Electric Locks
12. Locksmith and Locksmith Shops
This book is long out of print and is expensive used on Amazon and eBay. The average price is ~$100. Seeing as this book was going for much more used than comparable books new, is there anything to it? Could this be a long lost introductory book that is actually well-written and complete? Is this a hugely useful book or is it a sort of mass-hysteria on Amazon where sometimes out-of-print used books are priced sky high?  I borrowed a copy through interlibrary loan to check it out.
On basic topics, I think the book is a little weak. But it has two bright spots:
1. The first surprise is the first ~50 pages are on mortise locks. Extensive coverage of the topic.  Might be useful for someone repairing an old lock. 
2. The section on lever tumbler locks (under Key Operated Mechanisms) is good, including some things I had not seen before. The book also touches on master keying lever tumbler locks.The lockout chapter is interesting–it would seem that a lot of the material from this book found its way into the Desert Publication Lockout, and Phillips credited Lockout in his chapter on lockouts in his Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing. So making bypass techniques public knowledge went back to at least 1973 to this book.  
There is some cut-and-pate in the book, for example, the Schlage handbook on wafer locks is in it. But overall, less cut and paste than other introductory texts.
Robinson does devote a few short chapters to lock design. Some engineering principles, corrosion, wear, etc. There is also a chapter on welding, riveting, etc., to rebuild parts. In both cases I’m not sure if there is enough meat there for someone to really make use of it, but there it is. Has some quaint photos of a VW minibus set up as a locksmith van.
But in the end, no, the book is not a lost gem worth the high prices some people are asking. There is a sort of mass-hysteria sometimes on Amazon and eBay with out-of-print books. Just because a book is rare or expensive does not mean it is good, it may just mean that the sellers chose to list it at that price point. The sellers know nothing of locksmithing, they have never read the book, they just know that it is out of print and someone else is listing it for big bucks, so they will list it for about that much too. Personally, I might add it to my locksmithing library if I found a used copy for $10. 

Eighth Place: 


Practical Course in Modern Locksmithing, Whitcomb Crichton, Copyright 1943 – 1971, 222 pages 6″ X 9″, no ISBN.
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction to the Trade – glossary of terms, how doors are handed, etc.
2. Tools and Equipment.
3. Warded Locks – a page on how to fit keys.
4. Lever Locks – several pages on fitting keys and service.
5. Disc Tumbler Locks – briefly goes over disc tumbler, the Schalge wafer tumbler locks, and mentions a short-lived crushable self-keying disc lock.
6. Pin Tumbler Locks – discusses pinning locks, suggests filing down pins (common back then).
7. Masterkeying – really likes Corbin with all their different key ways, so each floor of a building can have a different key way. Does not really go into how to actually masterkey.
8. Service Hints – mentions Best SFIC, cutting keys by code, etc. Mention being the operable word.
9. Safes- discusses how to change combinations, how they operate, etc.
This book shows up used on Amazon every now and then for a few dollars. On the title page it notes that it is “A Benj. Franklin Home-Study Course Complete in One Volume.” That sounds promising. A 40+ year old book is obviously dated, but some elements of locksmithing have not changed since then.
The book is lacking in is anything to do with picking, impressioning, or bypass. It was also strangely lacking in automotive locksmithing, back when a locksmith could just about do anything that needed doing to a car with minimal tools. The page count was 222, but the lower margin is about 1 1/2″ so it is really smaller than it seems.
Overall, there is nothing very useful in the book, not now and probably not when it was published either. What was discussed tended to be at a high level. More like a long pamphlet to be handed out by high-school career counselors. It is of interest possibly as “locksmith lore”, a look back on what the trade used to be. For example, there is a suggested list of hand tools, to take on service calls in something like a doctor’s bag, and the writer reminisces about carrying such a tool kit to service calls via streetcar.

By |2018-03-06T07:23:16+00:00March 6th, 2018|Book Review|0 Comments
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