The Art of Locksmiths

The Art of Locksmiths

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Locks have been created in boring, plain, mechanical fashion, solely for the purpose of security with no thought or care to the art world. Locks are, after all, a means of privacy and protection, which doesn’t usually bring art to mind. However, there have been many designs of the lock that would make a locksmith proud to say he’s a part of the lock world. Decorative locks can create quite a stir in displays for businesses and homes alike. Part of the allure of certain pieces of furniture is the design of the lock.

Art and creativity have improved the looks of the functional lock as well as the decorative lock. Improving the looks also boosted popularity and sales. There are combination locks now that make school children quite happy. Locks that light up, bright colors and interesting shapes have enhanced school supply shopping for both mothers and children.

The craft of the locksmith is an art in itself. But the artistic improvements in the locks elevated the recognition of the makers of those locks and also of the locksmiths who must know how to work them. Making the locks look better didn’t improve memory. People still forget where they put keys, lose their keys, and forget their combinations.

There is also art in the photographs, clip art, stationery, and historical documents related to locksmithing. Paintings, posters, and ancient memorabilia all make the locksmith and his equipment an interesting part of art. Locks are found in pictures that don’t even focus on locksmiths or locks. Locks contribute to history and genealogy. You’ll see locks in historical references to churches, old general stores, and banks.

There’s art in the business cards and advertisements the locksmiths use. There’s also art in the key blanks, which have become quite decorative. There’s art in the colors and designs and even in the bright key tags you can place on your keys.
Keys are now manufactured with themes such as Disney characters, cartoon characters, football team logos, American flags, and animals. Locksmiths must stay in tune with what sells in today’s society to enhance their businesses and draw the attention of the youth.

Chinese locks are art pieces because of their unusual opening procedures. Their shapes make them interesting, but they’re functional as well. The craftsmanship is outstandingly artistic. The French have some creative designs in their locks as well. Sometimes the artwork is not necessarily in the lock itself but in the framework around the lock.

There is also artwork in the locks of old as well as the locksmith tools of old. Ancient tools add to the quality of museums, giving credit due to the craftsmen who created the tools. Sometimes art is not recognized as such until it becomes a part of what is considered ancient. There is artistic quality in the locksmiths of old as well. Houdini was a famous locksmith who awed the public with his antics and magical quality to picking locks in his escape routines. He brought a flair to the art world as well as the locksmith world. Art is like beauty; it is in the eye of the beholder.

How Illegal Locksmiths Hurt the Public

How Illegal Locksmiths Hurt the Public

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Illegal locksmiths caused annoyances in New York and several other states by placing hard-to-remove stickers on private property.
They further insulted residents and business owners by using fake addresses and phone number to avoid getting caught. This is a popular scam tactic for locksmiths who are in the business for the wrong reasons.

There are an unbelievable number of illegal locksmiths across the United States who operated many different businesses under many different names while being licensed under only one name. Many illegal locksmiths place ads in yellow pages with phone numbers that connect to national call centers. The addresses they use in their ads either don’t exist or belong to abandoned buildings. Operating under a business name other than the one under which the locksmith is licensed makes it impossible to verify their license for any state level recourse of action for recovery when there has been a scam.

It is recommended that any locksmith’s state license be verified before you hire him/her. Taking the locksmith’s word for verification only makes your family security vulnerable. The scam artists have access to your home, your personal belongings, private information, keys, codes, and safe combinations. If your instinct tells you there is something vague about their answers to your questions, it may be best to follow your instincts. The locksmiths who are doing business legally and who are trustworthy should not mind satisfying your curiosity about their legitimacy.

Fake locksmiths get away with their illegal scams because they catch people in a jam, in a hurry, too upset to take the proper precautions, and either too lazy to take the time to check credentials or too naïve. They also get past the legal system because of the cracks in the system. Sometimes the very laws we make to protect us are the laws that can also harm us when misused.

One way to tell if a locksmith is honest is to check the advertising for their locksmith license number. It should be posted on all ads, invoices, and business cards. The locksmith should also carry an embossed pocket version of the locksmith license. He/she should be willing to give you the license number when you contact him/her.

There are some other problems with illegal lock pickers. Code grabbers are illegal in the United States, so an individual who refuses to show proper credentials and possesses one is obviously not a certified, registered locksmith. Although there are tools that a burglar uses that are legal for a person to have in possession, such as lock picks, these are not legal in all states. In New York, Illinois, and the District of Columbia lock picks are illegal. In some places, potential burglar tools are only incriminating if you’ve been suspected of committing a crime or are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

How could it be feasible to carry lock picks and other locksmith tools and be at the wrong place at the wrong time? There are lock picking games and events that allow for a lock picker to have possession of these items. There are people who are interested in such a past time solely for the entertainment value. So, not everyone who might carry the tools is an illegal locksmith or a criminal.

Canadian Locksmith Associations

Canadian Locksmith Associations

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Professional Locksmiths Association Nova Scotia is one of the groups a locksmith in Canada would want to be involved with to increase their chances of a solid career in locksmithing. There is also the Association of Professional Locksmiths, the Canadian Alarm and Security Association, the Master Locksmiths of Quebec, Inc., and the Professional Locksmiths Association of Alberta. While it is not necessary to overwhelm your schedule and your interests, joining at least one of these important groups can provide positive benefits. One of those benefits is to be able to keep abreast of the latest news and happenings in the world of the locksmith. Another benefit is to build a bond between yourself and others in the same field of work.
Making a positive image for a locksmith and his/her business is just one of the most important investments towards a healthy future in the business. Canadians take pride in their country and in their training for locksmiths. An apprentice must first be hired as a trainee, then must find a journeyman for a mentor, and finally must enroll in the apprenticeship program. Eight weeks of class at a college is required followed by an exam that is administered by the government. There are four periods of training this way that must be completed successfully before being given the honor of the Journeyman Locksmith title.

The Canadian locksmith must do more than simply memorize the test material to pass the written exam. He or she must understand and apply the material with competence. The hands-on learning is supervised by the instructor.
There is an annual locksmith auction for Ontario locksmiths, a golf tournament, a locksmith academy, an electric door operator class, and a locksmith convention. The basic locksmithing courses cost $300. There are separate costs for each area of locksmithing. Panic Exit Devices course costs $275, Lock Picking costs $175, Basic Safe Searching costs $275. There’s also Access Control, Door Closer Installation, Tricks of the Trade, and many more courses available for advanced learning.

There is, of course, an at-home course that one can enroll in that suggests a budding locksmith can earn over $17 an hour after only nine months of training. Much like the distance courses offered in the United States for locksmiths, Kwikset and IICO are listed as the locks and key making machinery used during training. This course does give locksmith skills that are necessary; however, apprenticeship under an established locksmith gets you paid while you learn real life situations rather than textbook versions. You can learn much from a seasoned professional including what not to do!
Whether you are learning in Canada, the United States, or Australia, the education and apprenticeship are necessary to establish a base for a locksmith career.

Learning on your own may give you the barest of starts, but you will need to prove yourself worthy of your title. Many times the only way to convince future employers or future customers that you deserve their business is to be able to show valid certificates and licenses. Landing the big accounts will mean showing that you had the devotion and interest to prove yourself trustworthy.

Stories Related to Locksmiths

Stories Related to Locksmiths

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Locksmiths encounter some interesting situations in their line of work. In one instance, a locksmith received a lock cylinder from a car door that had been taken off the car because the owner lost the keys.

In another instance, a locksmith had to open a mausoleum niche so that a potato chip can could be removed. Someone had taken the body’s remains out of the hallowed space and left the can in place.

Locksmiths get frantic calls in the hot summer to unlock car doors when preoccupied mothers or fathers accidentally lock their keys in the car with their infants or toddlers. They get calls in the winter when parents lock their keys in the cold cars or the cars that are left running. Unfortunately, these stories don’t always end on a positive note.

A locksmith of the year 1977 had to remove a wad of mud left by a colony of wasps in a lock on the door of a University mausoleum. The mausoleum is a historical monument of artistic beauty. The tomb was built in 1888 and is the home of Egyptian sphinxes of granite, bronze outer gate, polished granite doors, Italian marble walls, ceilings and floor, and three sarcophagi of marble cut. A sarcophagus is a coffin of sorts, like the mummies of Egypt were placed in before being taken to their tombs.

Some locksmiths who unlock car doors or the doors to homes require the person they are assisting to provide proof of legal entry to show that this person has a legal right to enter. The professional must protect himself/herself from being prosecuted for aiding entry to the wrong person.

Locksmiths have had to come to the rescue of people recovering from a night of too much alcohol consumption. The people get drunk and lose their keys or lock the keys in the vehicle.

Locksmiths also have had to rescue the elderly whose caretakers would lock themselves out of the house. They have been counselors to customers who would be in the mood to confide their troubles as the locksmith is working. Locksmiths have saved people from going to jail when they lock themselves out of their cars at busy intersections.

The profession exposes the locksmith to people who are many times in a frantic mood because of a missed appointment, who may be late for work, who have an emergency to get to, who must catch a plane or a bus, and people who have locked their keys inside the car while it’s still running.

There are most likely plenty of stories that someone in this profession would be embarrassed to tell. Many stories have been forgotten over the years. Many stories would be too sad to tell. But the gratification the locksmith gets from the customers who truly appreciate the help and show it is sure to be worth the effort. No job is perfect, and there are probably as many drawbacks as there are happy memories. But as with any other job, there will be good days and bad days and plenty to relate to the children and grandchildren.

High Priority for Locksmiths

High Priority for Locksmiths

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Shunted locks are just one of the items an emergency locksmith must know well. A shunt is the process of turning aside or moving to an alternate course, a bypass. Shunted locks come in different brands. One of those brands is that of a British company named Bramah. The prices for a Bramah shunted lock can go up to $193. These locks are made for wooden doors, metal doors, sliding doors, and cabinets.

A shunt switch is used in a vandal-resistant mortise lock. These locks are used in places such as emergency exits. The complexity of these alarm locks requires educated intelligence on the part of the locksmith who may be required to repair or replace such a lock.

Locksmiths may also be called in a situation where an exit or emergency door has been locked or jammed. There are doors that must legally remain unlocked. Any time they have become illegally obstructed, the locksmith may be called to undo the damage. Sometimes these doors are obstructed because of poor management or because of disgruntled employees.

Locksmiths can be especially important to hospitals, convalescent homes, ambulance services, and police stations. Emergency and health care facilities are of high priority in a locksmith business.

Although some people would categorize simply being locked out of their vehicle as an emergency, there are situations that are of a higher priority. If someone’s health or life is at stake or if a criminal situation occurs that requires immediate response, the priority must be put on these situations.

Some emergency locksmith businesses that advertise fast service operate from Atlanta, Georgia to San Francisco, California. There are several businesses that operate out of many offices across the United States.

One has to be especially careful about hiring an emergency locksmith. There have been instances where locksmiths who have operated for years have been found to incorrectly bill the customers out of greed. One locksmith was fired from a hospital after eighteen years of service because he became greedy. He had an elaborate scheme which involved two other employees as well as him. This is an exception to the norm, though.

We have to place our trust in someone, and there are many locksmiths who work hard to earn the trust and deserve it. Just as there are people in other professions who turn bad, there are also bad locksmiths. It doesn’t make the profession bad, just that person. In general it is an honorable and respected position and the men and women who enter it must go through a lot to become professionals, including becoming registered in a way that allows the police department and the Better Business Bureau to investigate their background. The majority are proud of their upstanding public image and work hard to maintain control of it.

Locksmiths working with emergency personnel and police are another way they keep us safe. They repair damage done by criminals, install systems that make it harder for criminals to gain illegal entry, and provide us with a sense of inner peace.

The Basics of Home Security

The Basics of Home Security

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Every homeowner needs to be active and aware of their home security concerns. With home invasions and break-ins on the rise, it is time to take some steps towards protecting your family and your valuable belongings. It would surprise most people to realize how simple it is for a burglar to break into their home. By following these simple steps, you can reduce the odds of coming home to discover your home has been broken into and your cherished valuables have been taken.

For a burglar, the three greatest enemies are noise, time, and light. If a burglar must make a lot of noise, take a lot of time, and work in a well-lit area to get into your home, chances are that he will not bother. In most cases, he will move onto an easier “mark”. These are things that work in the favor of homeowners. I always tell my clients that, in order to defeat the burglar, one must think like the burglar.

Take some time and “case” the exterior of your home for points of entry. Imagine yourself as a burglar. Where would you try to get in? Where are the security weaknesses? You could even conduct a little experiment, by locking your home and trying to break in. If you, honest citizen, can break into your home with relative ease you can be sure it will be no problem for an experienced thief to gain entry.

Doors and windows are the first places to check when assessing the security of a home or business. Make sure that your home is equipped with a hard wood or metal exterior door, that is at minimum 1 ¾” thick. The doorframe should be equally as strong. A peephole is much better than a simple door chain, as it will allow you to identify the person at your door without having to open it. And if there is one thing you spend a bit of money on, be sure it is a good quality deadbolt!

Windows are also extremely vulnerable, from a security standpoint. If you have an older home with double-hung windows, you can secure them by nailing the upper and lower panes together from the inside. As well, simple key locks can be added to windows for a reasonable price. If you have windows that are located at street level, consider adding an iron grate or grille for added protection. Balconies and fire escapes can also be security weaknesses, so consider purchasing one of those metal “accordion” gates.

There are a few other simple precautions you can take to secure your home. Try to establish a routine to ensure that your doors and windows are locked when you leave the house and when you go to bed each night. If you can afford it, you should also invest in a home security system. There are some incredibly advanced systems available on the market today, and these systems are very difficult to bypass. These simple steps could make the difference between being a victim of crime and being safe from harm. Think about it!

Famous Locksmiths

Famous Locksmiths

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If you aren’t familiar with any famous locksmiths, it’s no surprise. Many locksmiths prefer to keep a low profile except to gain a reputable business. There are famous locksmiths within the locksmith community who are well-known for their skills as lock pickers and dominate the hobby. But as for the famous locksmiths who take their profession more seriously, little is put in the public eye.

Schneider Locksmith of New York City is famous in their area of the states. But this is a famous company, not an individual. An individual of olden days who was famous for the locksmith skills was an Englishman named Robert Barron. He improved security of the lock itself with the invention in 1778 of the double tumbler lock. There was no modern day security, no electronic technology to help him. He used the impressive skills of his mind and hands to create his masterpiece of the era.

Another famous locksmith was Jeremiah Chubb. He patented a detector lock back in 1818. This particular lock had six levers and won him a monetary award as well as ongoing fame. Mr. Chubb was located in London.

Locks were made from wood long, long ago. They have amazed, confounded, and frustrated people over the years. They have made some people and companies rich (the inventors and manufacturers) and made others secure. No longer made from metal, these mechanical contraptions have come a long way over the years.

One famous locksmith known for other talents was Houdini. He was a magician who thrived on escape tactics. The escape tactics depend on locks of some form or fashion. Houdini was an expert lockpicker who captivated audiences with his skills.

The King of France, also known as Louis XVI, was a very famous locksmith. He was known for his reign as a bad king, but his passion was with locks. He had unusual and outstanding skills as a locksmith. This may not have won him any medals of love amongst his followers, but it did put him in history as a famous locksmith.

It used to be that one had to be an apprentice to learn to be a locksmith. Being an apprentice has great benefits, one of which is recommendation from the mentor. Passing on the trade can be as rewarding as learning it from a master of the trade.

One famous locksmith was Arthur C. Smith. He specialized in ship locks in the late 1800’s. Located in Wolverhampton, which is in the English West Midlands, Mr. Smith put his mark on the world.

French locksmiths were known for their artwork on their locks. Resembling fancy scrollwork, these locks were fashioned in the true French elaborate designs. The French liked beauty in many areas of their lives and their locks were not to be left out.

A famous American locksmith known for his bank locks was Linus Yale, Jr., of New York. James Sargent, also of New York, patented a time lock mechanism, which made him yet another important locksmith.

As you can tell, locksmiths are important all over the world and throughout history. They are an important breed of human in our society, and yet one of the most overlooked. Locksmiths are constantly put to the test and should be famous for their endurance!

Games for Locksmiths

Games for Locksmiths

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Being a locksmith is not necessarily a boring job. There is the limited interaction with the customers to keep a locksmith in touch with the human side of the business. The work gives the locksmith focus. The travel provides stimulation. The technological changes and education to keep up with the times provides mental growth. So, what about the fun? Even these mechanical minded members of our community like to have fun.

The challenge of picking locks is viewed as a game for some locksmiths. As they grow in their experience, they are able to take on more complicated tasks. It is said that a locksmith sees a lock as a puzzle.

A locksmith plays a part in the game called World of War Craft, unlocking boxes in the trade screen. A game called Crack the Code allows the locksmith to click on numbers and enter until the combination is correct. Cleaner Scrape is an online game featuring Bob the Locksmith. There’s also a Kensington Lock Picking online free flash game. Gridlock is another fun online game for lock pickers that offers three levels of difficulty to accommodate beginners to the more experienced.

A board game that relates to the locksmith trade is called Break the Safe. It’s a fairly new game created by Forrest-Puzan Creative. Players have to work as a team to find the keys, disarm the traps, and evade the guard dogs.

On a bigger scale, locksmiths can join in a Dutch Open lock-picking competition in the Dutch village of Sneek. This offers intellectual stimulation and fun for any locksmith or lock picker lucky enough to participate. Some of the world’s most accomplished lock pickers attend this event.

Another large event for lock pickers and locksmiths is held by the Locksport International. DEFCON 14 held workshops, talks, sales of tools, speed competitions, tool making, and demonstrations for the enjoyable event that welcomed amateurs as well as professionals.

A Lock Picking Pogoda will be held in Cleveland, Ohio in April of 2008 for locksmiths and lock picking enthusiasts. Featured will be your regular American locks, Chinese knock-offs, cabinet locks, and high security locks. Safe cracking is also on the agenda to present a challenge for those who are brave enough to give it a shot.

Locksmiths aren’t the only ones who enjoy the locksmith events, games, and clubs. There are people who enjoy learning about locks and how they work just for the fun of it. It can be gratifying to bust the secrets of the lock companies and manufacturers. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It provides a challenge to show these businesses where their vulnerabilities lie so that improvements can be made. People who learn how to pick locks are not just criminally-minded individuals.

Although this possibility does exist, it is only a part of the group of people interested in this trade.
Locksmiths do, of course, enjoy other activities besides lock picking games and events. Just as doctors want more fun than just playing the board game called Operation, the locksmiths are going to be unique individuals who will want more fun than just that which revolves around their craft.

Bank Locksmiths

Bank Locksmiths

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Bank locksmiths are not shade-tree locksmiths who learn their trade in the backyard and go on to work for themselves in a run-down building in a bad area of town.
A bank locksmith must learn their craft legitimately from an accredited institution and provide licensed, verified backgrounds with certification. Anyone entrusted with the security of public finances has to be spotless in their reputation and have impressive credentials to earn the bank business and support.

Vault and safe locksmiths have a challenging job that throws them in the face of temptation on a regular basis. Their iron will is of the utmost importance, as is maintaining and improving their education to keep up with technological advances.
A bank locksmith must know proper etiquette as well as proper procedures. They must also be able to explicitly trust their employees and business partners. Who they hire as help is just as important as who they work for.

The locksmiths who specialize in the banking field must have knowledge of safe deposit box services, timelock cleaning and service, combination changes, vault services, preventive maintenance of physical security products, emergency vault and safe opening, and obsolete door refurbishments as well as on-site key duplication.

Bank locksmiths must know alarm systems. They must know fire alarms as well as intruder alarms. Bank alarm systems must be complicated in order to be effective. They involve knowledge of power sources, programming, testing, operating, and possible malfunctions.

Taking care of the needs of a bank may also involve opening, rebuilding, painting, moving and installing safes. An apprentice must be willing to cooperate in many areas and be able to work without constant supervision while being trained. The apprentice must have concern for safety and be comfortable with working in small spaces.

A bank locksmith must have solid mechanical mathematical ability, good personal presentation, good communication skills on paper and in person or on the phone, and a desire to stay educated with new security equipment developments.

Some banking stores have locksmiths on staff. These locksmiths also service ATMs. Since being introduced in the late 1960s, ATM machines have made incredible progress and have become a valuable asset to our society. They gave the locksmith yet another challenge to learn and continue to provide another part of the job’s security.

The way a bank locksmith dresses is important to their success and credibility. Bank employees need to feel secure with this person they entrust to their safety and not embarrassed to do business with him/her. Locksmiths who conduct themselves with class and sophistication will gain more respect and help people feel more comfortable in their presence. One way to do this is to dress in a way that shows respect for oneself.

If you are just starting out as a locksmith, consider your personal image. If you can afford to invest in some sort of uniform, you will present a more positive image. It will also help people learn to recognize you easier when they learn to associate your clothing with your business image. You will, in a big sense, be advertising yourself.

Government Locksmiths

Government Locksmiths

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Government locksmiths become licensed under the Security Industry Protection Act.
Three important institutions associated with government locksmiths are Master Locksmiths of America, Associated Locksmiths of America, and British Locksmiths Institute.

One of the important aspects of the government locksmith’s job is discretion. With a country’s security at risk, any government office must be serviced only by the most trustworthy of locksmiths. The locksmith must know more than just their doors and windows; they must also know security systems, safe locks, telephone keys, drawer locks, and vehicle locks.
High priority is important for the items the government locks protect as well as for the people the locks protect and the paperwork. Any business must protect its important paperwork and investments, but government business takes on an upper level of importance.

A government locksmith is not just needed to pick locks and provide extra keys. Government locksmiths must be top experts in their field in both customer privacy and the actual work provided. The safety of these high profile clients and what they stand for, weapons, money, records, and personal items is high priority.

It is not only the government of a country that is important; it is also the government of local and state that is a concern to a government locksmith. Any level of government must be treated with special care. If the wrong things happen with local government it can have a domino effect upon other government bodies. Anytime someone can wreak havoc with documents, forms, equipment, public safety, and privileged information, the locksmith is called to upgrade security.
A locksmith for a security service provider can earn as much as $66,000 per year in California. They must have knowledge of the latest and best quality equipment and techniques to service their clients and build the best reputation for themselves.

A government locksmith must have electronic and computer skills that are updated. Their knowledge of lock and keys are not all they have to practice. They must also understand thumb print and retinal scanners, pin pads, and electronic swipe cards among other things.

Because passwords are considered a security hole, retinal scanners have taken on more importance. Retinal scanners are a form of biometric identification. They bypass passwords to move into a more complicated means of identity and security. For a retinal scanner, there is an enrollment process that captures the sample. The sample is stored in a template to be used for future authentication comparison. The template is matched against data, such as a user name or PIN.

Retinal scanning provides high accuracy, but it still meets some user resistance because of the misconception that a laser is shot into the eye. Focus on a given point is significant for accuracy, which can cause a small problem for someone with eyesight handicaps.

Other high technology advances for locksmiths to learn in a high profile field like government work are: voice recognition, iris scanning, signature verification, and facial recognition. So, as you can see, a locksmith who specializes in government work can be much more than just a lock picker and key maker.