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Building your own lock picks
The first thing that you need to do is find a material that has
some spring to it. Stainless steel is a good choice. But where can you
find stainless steel relatively cheap, and in the width that we need?
What we are looking for is a blade that looks something like the one pictured below. These particular wiper blades contain 2 stainless steel stiffeners that run the entire length of the blade. All we need to do now is remove them.
You will notice on the right hand side of this blade that the stainless pieces are flared to keep them in place. The easiest way to get them out is to make a cut on the spine with your side-cutters, just before the end of the blade. When this has been done the entire assembly (the blade itself and the 2 stainless stiffeners) will easily slide out. Two more cuts, and each piece will be free.
In order to get a tight bend you want to have pressure as close to the pliers as possible. So, while pushing into your pliers with your thumb, slowly roll your other hand until you have an "L".
Once the bend is completed you can trim the torque wrench to size. You should end up with something like this:
Trying to bend something so thin across it's thickness can be difficult. The object skews and wants to flatten out. This particular problem can be addressed by using pliers that have serrations in the jaws. If you place the steel into these serrations then you will be able to get a decent grip and the steel wont have the ability to 'flop out' when pressure is applied.
Now to make the hook, what you want to do is make a bunch of consecutive small bends within the span of the last 1" of your steel, alternating your position as you go. If you bend too much you will deform the steel. Just take your time and you will end up with a nice fluid bend as you can see pictured below.
All that is left now is the finish work. By far the easiest way to clean up the edges and shape the steel is with a Dremel. I find that the sanding drums work really well. This is not a necessity though. If you keep your picks simple, for example the hook pick pictured above, you can easilly break the edges and fine tune the shape with a small file, it will just take a little longer.
Below you can see a pick starting to take shape. Also, if you had no idea what a Dremel was up till now, one is pictured below.
As for handles, I have had good experience with plastic dowels. I simply torch up the end of the pick for a few seconds and insert it into the dowel. It should melt a nice path for itself and seat almost immediately. You could also use a hardwood dowel that was pre-drilled, setting the pick in place with a little epoxy. Below you can see 2 picks that are a little more creative, and that utilize the plastic dowel for a handle. The second pick is very effective. Play around with your designs, you might find something that works better for you.
The ability to design your own picks can come in very handy at times. Most of us, at one point or another, have experienced frustration at the limitation of a particular pick. Those "If my pick was just ______! " this lock would open. Once you have played with a few designs, you will quickly find out just how useful it can be to build your own picks.