All you ever wanted to know about Comb Picks …

Yesterday I visited the German impression Championships in Cologne (Germany). But more about that later. For now I just am proud to be able to show you what Julian Hardt wants to share with you….

Julian worked on ‘comb picks’ for some time and created some pretty impressive ones….

Click for Comb pick video

For those new in the field: A comb pick is more a bypass tool then it is a pick. The whole idea of this tool is to lift the pins and lift them all the way up, out of the plug. If all pins are cramped up in the housing of the lock, there is nothing blocking the sheerline and the plug can rotate.

Besides creating comb picks for some of the more populair padlocks like Viro and Abus, he also made a comb pick for the Abus XP1 family. As some of you might know, the XP1 has a very difficult keyway. The pins are more or less trapped in the key profile, and if you want to pick it you have to approach them from the side. A very tricky and delicate lock. But Julian’s comb pick also is a piece of art!

Julian was honest enough to mention the comb did not seem to work on all models he tried. Sometimes the length of the top pin plus the bottom pin and the spring is just longer then the canal in the house of the lock. Still I really like the design and skills involved to make it…

I am sure the visitors of this humble weblog will enjoy this video (YouTube) showing you all about Julian’s comb picks (Quicktime video 45 MB).

Personally I am just very curious how long it will take the lock-tool industry to copy this concept and come out with a set of comb picks. I am putting my money on less then six months before the first ones show up on the market, maybe even sooner ….

Place your bets (in the comments) ….

18 Responses to “All you ever wanted to know about Comb Picks …”

  1. ThE_MasteR says:

    Hmmm, as you said Barry, very interesting and very intertaining. I like the way he bypasses the XP1.

  2. JackNco says:

    Fascinating stuff, Ive seen pictures of the Abus with evil keyway before and had no idea an attack like that would work. I thought company’s like Abus were using compensated drivers to over come the comb method.

    I think falle already produce a large comb pick set although I don’t think they come with the tool that lifts the pins to the top of the keyway, thats what i really liked about that set.

    Something I also noticed on his design was that the fingers on the picks were quite thick and that they spacing was done in such a way to stop the pins dropping in between the fingers, not something I have noticed on other combs I have seen around as I think they are usually intended for locks with keyways where you can start from bellow the pins, Very clever. But I’m rambling now so ill end this post.

    All the best


  3. mercurial says:

    John – are you maybe confusing the comb picks used for foil impressioning with the comb tools used here that lift and force all pins in each stack above the shearline? The former do have much narrower fingers on the comb.

    The comb picks used for foil impressioning are deliberately designed such that the fingers(which are thinner) on the comb are inbetween the pin-stacks, to allow the pins to impress upon the foil inbetween the fingers.

    I not absolutely certain, but I seem to remember that the Falle combs are as I’ve just described – designed for foil impressioning.


  4. PickPick says:

    One of the asian vendors is already selling a set of comb picks, but only for TriCircle padlocks.

  5. Barry says:

    mercurial : I think you are right. The Falle combs are used for a different kind of opening, namely foil or ‘self impressioning’. That would also make a great video 😉

    And as far as I know these tools are not available on the free market (but I could be wrong).

  6. PickPick says:

    Here’s a link to the TriCircle tools:
    As for Falle, as far as I know he produces or produced impressioning combs as well as bypass combs.

  7. Barry says:

    PickPick: Thanks for the link! Nice tools!

    And … wow … the Chinese are fast copying these tools 😉

  8. JackNco says:

    I don’t think so although I am only basing it on an image I saw on a forum. it was a picture of about 20 combs. I am also familiar with the foil impressioning kits. they also some with a tool to lift the pins to the top of the keyway similar to the one seen in the video. I cant be certain but I believe they are different sets. I have no idea if the image has any copyright so I don’t feel comfortable uploading it and posting a link in here.

    Barry if you are interested in a set linked in pickpicks comment please email me.


  9. JackNco says:

    OK I found the thread om the forum i was thinking about. It looks like an image taken of a personally owned set rather than a falle promotional image. Based on the fact that it is taken on a carpet.

    Hope there is no problem with me linking that on here.


  10. AL says:

    John Falle does make a full comb set, but it’s a restricted item & as such does not appear in his commercial catalogue.

  11. mercurial says:

    John – I know from LP101 that you certainly understand the difference between a comb pick for lifting(as in this blackbag article), and the combs used for foil-impressioning.

    My question was more regarding your mention of Falle combs, as I was only aware of Falle combs for foil-impressioning. I don’t doubt that there could be Falle combs as you described, hence my question. Thankyou for the link to the picture!

    AL – Could you clarify regarding when you say Falle makes a full comb set (but restricted) – are you referring to a full set of combs for lifting, or for impressioning?


  12. mercurial says:

    Sorry – I overlooked PickPick has already clarified that Falle does/did produce combs for both overlifting-bypass and foil-impressioning.

  13. JackNco says:

    OK my bad, I have just been informed that image was copyrighted. my bad. 🙁

  14. mercurial says:

    Yes, the springs can be damaged using this bypass method, obviously they get over-compressed, which can crush the spring, or make it weaker.

    As for opening the Iron-clad box, I am unsure if it was eventually opened, but opening instructions for it were found – they are really interesting – there is far more to opening the box than just inserting and turning a key in each keyhole! It would be fascinating to see the mechanism within the door!

    In case you missed them, the opening instuctions are at : [url][/url]


  15. Fùlleri says:

    Speaking of the Pandora Box, I have recently opened a similar very old strong-box. It had 3 warded locks for which I tried to make keys by impressioning. As it turned out the locks were jammed by rust, but at the end I managed opening the safe…
    I recorded every step in a blog. If you wish to see it, start from the first post 🙂 :

  16. Barry says:

    Hehe … it is nice to see so many knowledgable people answering the comments before I have a chance to do it. Thanks for that, I really enjoy it!

    The Iron-Clad (or as I called it, Pandora Box) is still not open. Today Toool member Jos took the taks to call the owner and make a new appointment. Will be continued …

  17. DMUX says:

    that is really cool, but i think you would need a tool for every single type of lock but it works just as good as a key

  18. raimundo says:

    Comb picks could easily be made from flat stock with a warding file, and by making the tines of the pick thinner than the diameter of the pins, one would build in some tolerance which would help each individual pick fit several similar but different lock setups.
    there are now commercial comb picks available from the far eastern sites, szhuang, apollolocksmiths, newsparkling and 13song.

    the weakness of the design is the pickshaft which needs to be relativey small in height, this could be gotten around by one made on a lathe or milling machine where the metal is thinned along the comb area, and a but thicker on the shaft area, and of course, with the thickening, the back edge should be rounded, as any 90 degree sharp edges would be counter productive, causing only headaches. Such thickened shaft picks could be produced in right and left versions to fit different keyways and a centered version thinned along the comb on both sides.