From Locksport Noob to Intermediate Picker: An Interview with Lock Noob

When Lock Noob created his YouTube channel in 2016, he was quite literally a noob to locksport. 

Using his channel as a video diary to document his progress while educating others, the UK-native estimates he has since picked roughly 1,000 different types of locks. 

The first non-clear lock he picked was a Rolson 5-pin brass padlock he purchased from a supermarket. 

"It was so poorly made, it was hard to really learn anything from it," he said. "The first lock that offered a ‘real’ picking experience for me was the Master Lock 3."

Since those days of picking cheap and poorly made locks, his skills have advanced considerably along with his audience. 

Lock Noob now has nearly 72,000 YouTube subscribers and is a respected personality in the locksport community. 

Notable feats documented on his YouTube channel include the Ingersoll Impregnable 10-level padlock and DOM Diamant.

Lock Noob is also behind several conceptual pick designs released by Sparrows Lock Picks. He also contributed design insights to SubtleDigs when we set out to create our first original laser cut pick set in 2020. 

It’s become clear that he can no longer be classified as a “noob.”

We sat down with Lock Noob to learn more about how he got started picking locks and to get his take on all things locksport.

 

How did you first discover lockpicking and the locksport community? 

I first discovered lockpicking due to a late night purchase of a see-through plastic padlock which included a miniature set of picks similar to the ones you find in the cheap plastic credit card pick set. Gin may have been involved.

I remember having seen some awful YouTube video from a company that was selling escape and evade skills courses and they did things like picking locks with bobby pins and snapping cable tie restraints.

While the video was bad, part of me thought that I’d like to get one of the plastic padlocks to look at as it just seemed like an interesting object. 

 

I first discovered lockpicking due to a late night purchase of a see-through plastic padlock which included a miniature set of picks similar to the ones you find in the cheap plastic credit card pick set. Gin may have been involved.

 

Once I learned to pick that, I started watching YouTube videos, bought more locks and lock picks and never looked back! I met the broader community through a subscriber introducing me to the UKLocksportForum. Now I interact with people on nearly every social platform.

 

It’s clear from watching your YouTube channel’s evolution that you’re no longer a lock picking noob. How would you rate your skills now?

It’s a very hard question to answer as I think it’s others who would be better at rating my picking skills rather than myself. Certainly I know countless people who I consider to be better lock pickers than me.

If I had to be drawn into an answer, I’d say that I’m a solid intermediate picker, maybe a little higher rated on a good day! For me, the joy is in exploring a range of locks and locking mechanisms; if I get more skilled over time, it’s more of a byproduct of my enjoyment than anything else.

 

Was there a moment when you realized, "I’m not a noob anymore?"

Honestly, not really. It’s all been so gradual over the years that it’s only when you take a step back when you see your progress. Besides, I’m still learning all the time, so there will always be a new lock or picking skill that will make me feel like a noob when I try it.

 

Lock Noob's lockpicking setup

Lock Noob's tool kit and home setup. Photo courtesy of Lock Noob 

How many unique locks would you estimate you’ve picked in total?

Good question! I have about 930 videos and 40 unpublished ready to go. While many of those are not videos of individual locks, it’s a good rough estimate of the number of different locks I’ve picked. When you multiply that by the many times I pick each lock, well I can only imagine! For me I use YouTube as a blog of nearly every lock I’ve picked.

 

Would you share a memorable lock picking story?

My good friend Damian, who lives in Melbourne, Australia was working at PAX Aus, a huge computing and console exhibition, and he met another Enforcer (steward) there who, it turns out, watched my channel. 

That someone I knew had met someone I didn’t across the other side of the world who watched me was just mind-blowing. She and my friend stayed in contact and now I play Apex Legends with my friend and her husband most weekends.

 

That someone I knew had met someone I didn’t across the other side of the world who watched me was just mind-blowing.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this, and we’d like yours: Can any lock be picked?

It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer as it needs parameters to be able to give a full and accurate answer. 

Any lock type? 

Just mechanical locks or do we include electronic locks? 

Just manipulation or bypasses and exploits? 

Do we include attacks on the latch/bolt as well as the locking mechanism? 

If we take the question to mean a variant of a pin tumbler mechanism that uses a mechanical key, then I’d say that given enough skills, time, knowledge and access to the keyway it is probably possible to pick any such lock. 

That being said, I’d say that we already have many locks that are, in a real world situation, practically impossible to pick.

 

So far, Lock Noob has been unable to pick this Fichet-Bauche safe lock. But you can see him picking a different one on his YouTube channelPhoto courtesy of Lock Noob 

 

Along those same lines, is there a lock that you have been unable to pick so far but are determined to pick someday? 

Loads! Some of which aren’t even known to be particularly hard, like the Illinois Duo. Some locks I’d like to pick some day include an Assa Twin, Assa Desmo and a BiLock. 

 

If you could only have one lock pick in your arsenal, what would it be and why? 

The Peterson Gem in 0.018. It is just one of the best all round profiles for my picking style and I love the way you feel the pins rise along the curve of the pick as you draw it back through the lock. 

 

What's the most useless pick on the market and why?

Nearly all picks have a use, even the most bizarre picks I have found might work where other profiles have failed. One profile you have never seen me use outside of a review are profiles that are essentially just a long swoop or curve.

 

Nearly all picks have a use, even the most bizarre picks I have found might work where other profiles have failed.

 

Some people like them, but for me they offer no advantage over either a standard hook or a deforest profile. 

 

Are there any new products on the horizon that you're excited about? 

Well, regarding my own work, I have a few designs I have worked on with a couple of companies that are still to be announced that I’m very excited about, I just can’t talk about them yet! I really cannot wait to show them off when the time comes!

Other than that, I don’t tend to hear much about new products I’m not involved in until near release and those I do know about I'm sworn to secrecy over!

 

Have you discovered any practical benefits to learning how to pick locks?

Not exactly. I’ve helped a couple of friends over the years after lockouts, but not as many as you’d think. Where the practical benefits of the hobby lie for me are outside of lock picking and more towards the other skills I have picked up over the years that are related to it like tool making and jewellery making - I have certainly developed many transferable skills due to lock picking! 

Locksport ring by Locknoob

Lock Noob has transferred his locksport skills into a jewellery making hobby. This stainless steel ring with sterling silver solder was made from a prototype lock pick (and a profile that Lock Noob designed himself). Image courtesy Lock Noob's Instagram

 

The mental and social benefits of lock picking for me far outweigh any of the practical benefits.

 

Do you think advancements in technology will make lock picking obsolete?

We have had electromechanical and biometric locks for many, many years in commercial buildings and I have seen a big increase in such offerings for residential users, but ultimately I can’t see a time where these will take over traditional mechanical locks due to their familiarity, cost and simplicity - even if the alternatives offer a more secure or flexible solution. 

If it ever does happen, it won’t be in my lifetime! 

 

Has the lock picking community changed over the years? For better or worse?

Yes, and for the better as social media has brought people from all over the world together to share their passion and skills. It has also made lock picking more accessible and less stigmatised as a hobby. 

 

Is there someone you look up to in the lockport community? 

Honestly too many to list, and I am not using hyperbole here. I feel if I started listing everyone I looked up to I’d risk missing people off and upsetting them. I have a genuine love and respect for so many people in the community and indeed the community as a whole for its passion and generosity. 

It does have to be noted though that if I hadn’t had Bosnian Bill to inspire my channel at the beginning, I don’t think I ever would have started up on YouTube, and if I hadn’t been lent so many locks by my friend Ucof, I wouldn’t have had any content in the early days.

 

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started picking locks? 

There are so many lessons, skills, tips and tricks I have learned over the years! Oddly though, there isn’t a standout thing I think I wished I’d personally known at the beginning as sometimes you just have to go though the discovery process of learning and failing itself. It’s part and parcel of the hobby.

I wished at the time I hadn't spent so little on my first lock pick set, but I didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t know at the time if I wanted to take the hobby any further and it still taught me a lot about what I wanted from a better pick set.

 

Any advice for current noobs?

Only that you should enjoy Lock picking in whatever form you like. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy your hobby, so use whatever tools and techniques on whatever locks bring you the most joy. 

 

Where to find Lock Noob

You can find Lock Noob on the following social channels: 

YouTube: LockNoob

Twitter: @LockNoob1

Instagram: @locknoob

 

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