Posted by: Mona Post Date: 07/06/2019
Unlocking Tipene’s Known Ways to PickingMona
Many of you will be familiar with Tipene Nga Puhi and his awesome lock picking skills. Here at PickPals, we thought we’d get to know him a little bit better with a little interrogation of our own.
We put out any questions you may have to the Australian Lock Sport Guild and got some great questions that we put to Tipene.
The answers are great reading and inspiration for your picking. Like how Tipene learnt to pick, his favourite locks to pick and where the future of security is heading.
Lets get to the questions…
1. How did you get into lock-picking and for how long have you been practising?
I first started making Picks and Picking locks when I was around 12. I borrowed a book on Locks from the Library (I’ve always been curious how mechanical things work) and it showed the basic Picking technique using a BOK tension wrench and a Pick. I grabbed some of my Dads used Welding Rods, hammered them flat on an Anvil and filed away. They worked fine on the Lockwood and Rabbit wafer padlocks I had available to me at the time. I quit Lock Picking when I got into Skateboarding back in the late 70’s, and didn’t get back into it until I discovered Bosnian Bills YouTube channel one rainy afternoon back in early 2016. I purchased a set of Southord Euros from Pickpals and away I went.
I should also mention I met Michael Maynard around this time after we engaged in a bidding war for 3 old Lockwood Padlocks on the Trademe auction site. We have been mates ever since and his support and encouragement has got me where I am today. The man’s an unbelievable picker and has an incredible analytical mind. If people aren’t already watching his YouTube channel, they are missing out on a treat.
2. What is your most favourite lock to pick and why?
American 1100’s, my “comfort lock”. They were my first milestone lock and I love them to this day. I own around 5 of them and pick at least one of them a day. I even purchased an American Pinning kit and some key blanks so I can change them up now and again. You can learn a heck of a lot about picking from an American 1100.
3. Is there anyway, other than lots of experience, to work out the best way to attack a lock. Eg. shimming, raking, SPP, bypass, bumping etc?
From a Locksporters perspective (I can’t speak for Locksmiths), I think experience plays a large part in deciding the best way to approach a lock For example in this part of the world we see a lot of locks with the C4 Keyway. By and large, the majority of these come with standard or bevelled pins. Once you’ve picked a few of these you just know what Pick profiles and level of tension will get you into 90% of them. If it’s a make or model of lock I’ve never seen before, I’ll look at the keyway and decide what gauge of Pick I’ll need and choose a low profile hook to start with. I’ll also try and find a tensioner that fits snugly and will give me good control of the plug.
4. What is the most overlooked yet useful pick in your opinion?
In terms of commercial Picks, I’ll choose two. The Tron and Lunatic Picks from Sparrows. When I first got my hands on both of these I had my doubts. I’d been using more traditional profile Picks up to that point, Peterson, Southord etc. These two looked very left field I thought the Lunatics shank height was way too shallow and that I’d snap it in no time. These two Picks have got me into a lot of locks, Lockwood, Abus, Ruko, Assa etc. The Lunatic loves tight Y1 keyways, it twists nicely around the keyway curves to reach those high set pins.
5. With all your experience, if you could initiate one change, that lock manufacturers had to abide by to make locks more secure, what would it be?
In this part of the world, just put some OEM security Pins in. A few Serrated and Spool pins wouldn’t go a miss. The Standard and Bevelled driver pins so prevalent down under are just too easy to rake open. When you compare our pinning with the pinning you find in locks from other parts of the world, (particularly Scandinavia), it’s like night and day.
6. How many times do you resort to brute force when “On the job”?
Not being a Locksmith, I’ve never been “ON THE JOB”, so never.
7. What is one lock that you would love to pick?