Opening a vintage lock

February 3rd, 2019

A while back, somebody visited one of our Toool meetings. This gentleman brought with him a punch clock device. I am not sure in what setting it was used, but found one example on the internet of such a clock being used in a prison, where the warden would register their rounds through the facility

Punch clock

The keys were lost, so we were asked to try to open it without damage. The lock looked easy enough..

Still, we could not open it fully.

In the end, Jos took it home to look at it a bit further and in the end he was able to open it. We had not expected a three lever lock when we started.

Finally, we had a nice view of the insides, where you can see the mechanism to transport a paper tape and an ink ribbon.

Lockpicking escape rooms

December 25th, 2018

Eric runs a lock shop (Au P’tit Clou Serrurerie) in Belgium, in the city of Beauraing (near Dinant and also near a degree confluence point). He has also set up a few escape rooms with a lockpicking angle. If you’ve ever been in an escape room, you know they often involve locks to be opened, to get to the next stage. But the the escape rooms Eric designed, are completely in a lock theme. One is based on the story of Charles Hobbs. Hobbs was the first to defeat the security of the locks of Jeremiah Chubb and Joseph Bramah. We still call the tools he used ‘Hobbs Hooks’.

When Eric saw the talk of Tim Jenkin at LockCon 2017, he was inspired to build another escape room about his amazing story of escaping from a Pretoria jail as well. So if you would like to relive that experience, be sure to visit Trésors Cachés!

Toool on the BBC (again)

December 9th, 2018

At LockCon, we had some guests who were shooting footage for the BBC. They followed a few British lockpickers, including Nigel and made an item for the One Show.

It aired last week and you can view it below.

Lockpicking in France

November 25th, 2018

A week ago, I visited the French lockpicking group, l’Association des Crocheteurs de France. They regularly have meetings in Paris. But last week, they had combined their meeting with lockpicking competitions and lectures (also in Paris).

There was a nice crowd. The ACF has been able to find a nice place in Paris to meet, in the 11th arrondissement. The lockpicking competition was like that in the Netherlands, where you are divided in groups and every group gets locks, given out by the organisation. Winners of each group go to the semi-finals and then the finals. What was interesting, was that the locks were dimple locks. Although the French lockpicking group is quite new (founded 3 years ago), they chose to make it difficult!

But, there were a number of people who were very skilled. I also participated. I struggled a bit with the French rule that you must use a tensioner and are not allowed to tension the cam directly. I got into the semi-finals but not the finals. But this is just an excuse of course, the three finalists were very good! 🙂

ACF competition

The final consisted of three rounds of 30(!) minutes. After that, the top-3 was known: 1st place for BilLock, 2nd for Cinok and 3rd for BisBis. Congratulations!

ACF winners 2018

After the competition (and dinner), there were four interesting lectures. One was about what you can deduce by just looking at a lock. The person who has organised the whole thing, Fabien, also gave a lecture. It was about a popular (but very expensive) French lock, that looks like an impossible-to-pick lever lock, but in fact there are several ways of defeating it, as Fabien showed.

Fabien talking

If you live in France, be sure to visit them!

LockCon 2019!

November 23rd, 2018

Yes – we are still in 2018. But.. the date for LockCon 2019 is already known!

LockCon 2019 will be held October 25-27, 2019, in Castle De Berckt in Baarlo, Netherlands (the same place as previous years). Arrival the 24th in the evening is possible, as is leaving the 28th if you wish.

Registration will be possible a number of months before the event starts, so no need to mail us already, this is just so you know when to reserve LockCon in your agendas.

FIOPS forensic tests

November 1st, 2018

At LockCon 2017 (so last year), the good people from FIOPS were present. FIOPS is an internationalorganization founded to create a platform for forensic specialists in the field of physical security.

This is an interesting field, that also interests many of the attendees at LockCon. By looking at traces left inside a lock, it is possible to tell a lot, e.g. if it was just opened with a key, or if also picking tools were inserted. It is possible to differentiate between standard pick tools, pick guns, bump keys etc. because all leave different traces that can be seen by disassembling the lock and having a close look with a microscope.

The folks from FIOPS asked our help to provide real traces in locks, to help build a library of locks opened with different (but known) techniques. For this reason, they installed a real door in which cylinders were placed to be opened, every time a new one. Recordings were made of the opening.

I was one of the people opening one of the locks (lock 24), and my method was picking. Since members of Toool never pick locks in doors as it does not make sense but makes it harder, I expected to need quite a lot of time. Imagine my surprise when I opened in 20 seconds, even if I had never picked the lock before!

Here’s a video of me opening:


Results Toool NL championships

October 5th, 2018

Toool organises an ongoing competition that ends every year at LockCon. A box with locks travels to all meetings and members of Toool can have a go at them and Toool competition. Since you can really get to know the lock (you can try as often as you like), the opening times become very fast over the year.

The results of the competition were:

1. Walter 266.5
2. Jos 235.5
3. Tom 204
4. Decoder 198
5. Rob 127
6. Rolf 66
7. Martin EHV   36
8. J-W 32
9. Christ 19
10.   Maykel 2

Here we see the winners, from left to right Tom, Walter and Jos:
Toool competition winners
Picture by Urs

Results Lever Lockpicking championships

October 5th, 2018

The newest of the competitions is the lever lock competition. This is really fast paced, four locks to be opened in each round, with just two minutes per lock. This is done in groups of four, the winners of each group go to the final. One group had no winners (no locks opened). The first rounds went as follows:

Round  Name Lock 1  Lock 2  Lock 3  Lock 4 
1 Nigel 1’28 1’59
Femurat 1’05
2 Julian 0’43 0’56
Lars 1’09 0’58
Decoder 1’42 0’54
Cattani 1’28
3 Oli 1’32 0’51 1’58
4 Harry 0’23 0’47 1’59
Jaakko 1’39
5 BenD
6 mkie 0’34 1’15 0’24
Morris 0’24 1’33 0’39
Marc 1’27

The finals were exiting, with the following end result:

# Name Lock 1  Lock 2  Lock 3  Lock 4 
1. Julian  1’07  1’32  1’20  1’52  0’56
2. Oli 0’34 1’28 1’58 0’34
3. Harry 1’37 1’24 1’22
4. Nigel 1’50
5.  mkie

Here we see the winners, from left to right Harry, Julian and Oli:
Lever lockpicking winners
Picture by Urs

Results Impressioning championships

October 5th, 2018

Also many people participated in the impressioning championships. Given an Abus C83 cylinder and some blank keys, the goal was to make one of them into a working key as fast as possible. The first six would then proceed to the A-final, the second six to the B-final, to open another set of six locks.

The first round lasted an hour, but the first two times were under a minute!

The results of the first round:

1. J-W 0’51
2. Jos 0’59
3. Manfred 1’11
4. Oli 1’12
5. Harry 1’32
6. Morris 2’10
7. Alex 2’34
8. Holly 2’40
9. Walter 3’03
10. Django 3’38
11. Jord 5’51
12. Torsten 6’34
13. Zahella 7’48
14. Nigel 8’04
15. RFGuy 9’46
16. Marc 10’36
17. R@y 14’08
18. DG 15’43
19. mkie 15’50
20. Julian 22’31
21. Hotaru 23’41
22. Tom 28’05
23. Matt B. 30’12
24. mh 31’02
25. Lars 44’45
26. Martin.BE  26’28
27.  Jascha 47’42

Then the top-6 were to compete in the (A) final. The numbers 7 through 12 did the B-final. The results were as follows:


1 Jos 1’55 7’27 13’54 8’14 5’12 4’28
2 Manfred   7’17 5’45 7’06 2’42 5’40
3 Oli 2’53 8’14 3’14  11’28
4 J-W 10’38   3’51   12’02   12’02 
5 Harry 6’16 4’58 6’45
6 Morris 11’02 11’57 6’42


7 Jord 7’46 2’55 3’57   7’35
8 Alex 7’56   11’06   5’05   6’42  
9 Torsten   8’09 5’52
10 Walter 8’48 12’20
11 Django 6’08
12 Holly 6’21

Here we see the winners, from left to right: Oli, Manfred and Jos:
Impressioning winners
Picture by femurat

Walter doing impressioning
Picture by Dennis van Zuijlekom

Results Lockpicking championships

October 5th, 2018

Quite a lot of people participated in the Lockpicking championships (the “Dutch Open”). We had 67 participants! Six groups were made where every person tried to open six locks. The best two would go on to the knock outs. Here are the results of that first round:

Winner Runner-up
Table 1  Julian Max
Table 2 Locknoob   Femurat
Table 3 Walter Decoder
Table 4 Marc Gorilla
Table 5 Torsten Jos
Table 6 Catani Jascha

In the first knock out round, each number one would compete one-on-one with a number two, leaving only six people:

Competitors Winner
Julian – Femurat   Julian
Locknoob – Max Max
Walter – Gorilla Walter
Marc – Decoder Decoder
Torsten – Jascha Torsten
Catani – Jos Jos

The next knock out round left three people:

Competitors Winner
Julian – Walter Julian
Max – Decoder   Decoder
Torsten – Jos Torsten

Those three people went to the final round, having to open three high security locks:

1. Decoder   1’13
2. Torsten 11’26
3. Julian

Here we see the winners, from left to right Julian, Decoder and Torsten:
Lockpicking winners
Picture by femurat