a. A good set of screwdrivers, from jeweler's flat and
Philips to up to large flats and #3 Philips. A really good
set, like Craftsman, is the most economical thing you can
buy in the long run.
CY: Get the changable screw driver tip for your cordless
drilll. Major labor saver.
b. Several sizes of pliers from small to large, including
needle nose, diagonal wire cutting, 8" Lineman's pliers,
large and small slip joint pliers.
w. 4" or 5" vice grip pliers for impressioning and general
use. You will use these for so many things that you just
can't afford to not have one. Get the original Phillips
brand, if you can. A large set is very useful also.
CY: I use my Vise Grips very often.
c. Internal, and external snap ring pliers or a combo unit.
Don't skimp on the price of these pliers. A cheap set will
cause you nothing but grief, and cost you lots of time. Get
the best there is.
d. A set of both metric, and SAE, open end/box end wrenches
and a set of ¼" and 3/8" drive metric and standard sockets.
CY: I very seldom use these, but I do use a crescent.
e. A 6", or 8" pippin file. I prefer 8" - #4 Grobet file.
These will be expensive so take good care of them. Do not
loan them out. Taken good care of, they will last for years.
Try to cut steel with them, and you will buy a new one soon.
You generally use these for wafer type locks, and small pin
CY: Never used one. Don't even own one.
f. An 8" Round impressioning file - #4 Gorbet. Some people
like a 6" round file but I find for doing automotive pin
tumbler work, that the wider round is better and gives a
clearer field to view the pin marks. Some people like a #2
files but I find that this is too coarse for general use
even though it cuts faster.
CY: I've made more money with my round #4 cut file than just
about any other tool.
x. An impressioning handle, as sold by Pro-lock, Framon, and
others. They are so much easier to work with when
impressioning that they are well worth the extra expense.
CY: What he means is a good handle for your file.
g. A small Warding file - You will need this for working
with flat steel keys, and safe deposit keys, and generally
where you have to touch up something.
CY: Or scraping burrs off cut keys.
h. A 6" and 10" Mill Bastard flat file (yes, this is the
correct name for it.) These are the files that you will use
on steel parts, when necessary.
CY: Amazing all the things I've used a bastard on.
j. A good set of wood chisels, Stanley or better. Bare
minimum, you will need a ¼", ½", 1", and 1 ¼". I also took
another 1 ¼" wide chisel and ground the width down to a 1
1/8" width. I always have a second ¼" chisel to cut aluminum
with. It cuts just like wood, but it hard on the tool. These
are the most commonly used sizes.
CY: I use only 1/2 and 1 inch.
k. A good sharpening stone to keep the chisels sharp. An
Arkansas Stone or a diamond hone will do nicely. Then, learn
to use the sharpening tool. Keeping your chisels sharp will
translate out into a substantial time savings when
installing a lock in a wood door.
CY: He's right, but I keep forgetting to sharpen mine.
l. A case, or canvas carrying pouch to keep the chisels in
to keep them from getting dull in the tool box. If they
bounce around in your tool box, they will stay dull, and
will eventually cut you when you try to get something else
out of the tool box.
CY: Don't got one.
m. A utility razor knife, the kind with a retractable,
disposable blades. Get one that takes standard easily
obtainable replacement blades
CY: Good idea.
n. A 12' min measuring tape. Get the 1" wide tapes. It makes
it easier to take extended measurements. You can probably
get a 25' tape as cheaply.
CY: I have a 6 inch pocket ruler. Seldom use anything
o. A dial, or electronic digital caliper capable of reading
to .001". (Tip: grind the male end that extends out on the
end to where it will go down into a pin hole for measuring
the depth of pin needed.) You don't need the most expensive
one available, but you do want one that is accurate. Don't
even waste your money on one that is made of plastic. Like
many things, the price of the electronic versions has come
down dramatically and may well be worth the extra expense.
Guard and store this tool carefully. You will use it a lot.
CY: He's right about htat.
p. A set of plug followers, both solid, and hollow. Get the
hollow, if you can only get one type. You will need several
sizes. There is a set sold that has all the popular sizes in
it. You can supplement your plug followers by getting
different sizes of thin brass tubing at a hobby store, or
hardware store. You can also make some pretty good followers
out of wooden dowel rods.
CY: Just buy them. well worth it.
q. A .500" combination plug follower that will dump top
pins, as made by Keedex, or others. This will probably
become your favorite follower, but it won't do it all.
CY: Never used one.
r. A long cylinder cap removal tool for Weiser, and
Weiserbolt locks. Get another for Schlage locks. Lab makes a
good one out of steel.
CY: I think I own a Weiser one, but seldom see th at brand
s. A Kwickset Tool. This very cheap tool will turn out to be
an invaluable tool for removing the clips on all kind of
locks. Get yourself a couple of them and guard them well.
Everybody will want yours.
CY: The cheepie one are under a buck, and worth every penny.
t. A small sharp pointed scribe. Many use an Ice-pick for
this. However, you will want one that will fit in your pick
set and another one to go with your pinning tools. Often,
you can find sets of scribes with different shaped ends.
CY: I own one, but seldom use it.
u. A Set of key depth gauges. Keedex makes a good one with
Kwickset, Schlage Weiser, and Dexter gauges, but you will
need as many different ones as you can get, like Yale, Best,
CY: Good idea. I bought the Schlage one, put stickers on it,
and marked it msyelf for Best and Kwikky on the back. Clear
tape over the white sticker with my hand writing.
v. A set of cap removal pliers. Even though this is an
automotive tool, it is priceless for all parts of
CY: Don't own one.
y. A set of basic picks. But the small set first. I only use
three or four of them. Picks are so personal that you will
have to experiment to find what you really like. There are
several good manufacturers, and they all make good picks.
Whichever set you learn on will probably be your favorite
all your life.
z. A tubular pick. HPC makes a good one. This is a kinda
optional tool, but you will be called on to use it from time
(this list is getting long).
AA. A manual pickgun, (E-Z, Majestic, Life-aid, or the
like.) You are going to have to make friends with what ever
you get, anyway. You may have to go through more than one to
get one that is right for you. At first, this is better to
learn on than the electric. At least you need to learn to
use this before you go on to an electric pick gun.
BB. A set of HSS drill bits, from 1/16" to 1/2" by
increments of 1/16" with drill index. If you can afford
Cobalt bits, even better, but they break just like the
CC. A 3/8" variable speed industrial duty drill. Get the
best one you can afford. Having a built-in leveling bubble
on it is a real plus.
CY: Make that a half inch hammer drill. Much more useful.
DD. A 6" torpedo level.
EE. A 30" carpenter's level
CY: Oddly enough, I seldom have needed a level.
FF. A 1/2" Industrial Duty Hammer Drill with a hammer
on/hammer off selector switch. A variable speed/two speed is
a plus. Again, the best that you can afford is the cheapest
in the long run.
CY: Oh, here is the drill.....
GG. A set of concrete/masonry bits from 1/8" to 1" by 1/16"
increments. Having these will often keep you from dulling up
your HSS bits.
HH. A 13oz. Claw hammer. This is as big as you normally
need. A 16 oz. is a little clumsy but it depends on what you
feel comfortable with. When getting a hammer of any sort,
make sure that the face of the striking surface is parallel
with the handle. If not, you will have a hard time driving a
nail, or anything else. If the hammer you have is does not
have a parallel face, then grind it till it does.
II. A small and A large ball peen hammer.
JJ. A small plastic mallet or rawhide mallet. The plastic
works fine and is cheaper.
KK. A small brass locksmith's hammer. You will just be
surprized how much you will use this, and besides, my office
manager says they are "cute".
LL. A set of good quality cold chisels. If you can afford
only one, get a ½" wide one but get a good one. It won't
dull up nearly as fast. Then, keep it sharp. Again, this is
a time saver in the long run.
MM. A 9.6v(or higher) variable speed rechargeable battery
powered drill with 110v charger, and 12v. charger. Variable
speed is a real plus here, as you will use it as much for a
screw driver as a drill. The higher voltage units, 12, 14,
and 18 volt models seem to last longer between charges, and
have more power. Again, if you are in this for the long
haul, the best one is the cheapest.
CY: Your cordless drill will get a major workout if you get
the screw driver tips for it. Get a good one.
NN. A set of driver bits for the battery powered drill with
magnetic drivers, and extended length bits in flat, #2 & #3
CY: Now he tells us!
OO. A tool apron, or tool belt similar to a carpenter's
Belt, with an electrician's type pouch. A set of suspenders
for this belt is good for when you have to wear it on the
job all day. This is especially helpful for when you have to
go to multiple places, deep into a plant and carry a lot of
PP. A hard hat, gloves, Safety glasses, and safety shoes.
You will often go onto jobs where they will require all of
these, just to get in the gate. If you wear glasses, get the
clip-on safety shields that go on the arms from your
optometrist. Having all this is another time saver. If you
don't have them, you will have to wait until you are fitted
out by the guy showing you the work. If you have them
already, you have saved 5 minutes. Remember that you are
probably getting paid for the completed job, not by the
hour. And besides, the job doesn't pay any more for pain and
QQ. A uniform. Preferably, matching dark blue work clothes.
Dark blue does not show up grease and graphite stains, so
that 3 washings down the road, you don't look like a
greaseball. Work clothes don't tear as bad as other clothes
and don't cost any more. It is a matter of economics.
Uniforms may or may not be provided by your employer but
even if not, it is the best way for you to go. Anyway, it
tends to set you out ahead of the rest. A person that looks
like crap, probably is that kind of workman, too. Looking
good will tend to get you hired, whether it is an employer
or customer. Looking neat and well groomed gives you an edge
with the customers too. In this day and age, we need all the
edge we can get.
CY: Yes, some kind of uniform is a really great idea. Also
does wonders when you're talking with security guards, cops,
etc. who wonder what the heck you're doing.
RR. A good set of broken key extractors including several
tools. Get several spiral extractors as you will break them
often. These can be supplemented with jeweler's scroll saw
blades that are extremely fine.
SS. A set of dental picks of several different shapes for
probing and working with small parts. You can usually find
these at a good Hardware store.
CY: Never needed these.
TT. A Downey pin, or large upholstery pin, or a straight
probe made of
wire. Actually, several different diameter wire probes, made
of music wire
would be best. Music wire can be obtained at any hobby shop.
It is tempered spring steel and is good for many uses.
CY: Never needed these.
UU. A set of torx drivers, the kind with the foldup handle.
CY: Gt these in my bit set.
VV. A set of tamper resistant bits with handle including
several different shapes like tamper proof torx, tamper
proof Allen, and others. Sets of these are available from
various screw vendors.
WW. A set each of ball end, SAE and Metric Allen wrenches,
from very small to very large(1/2" or so).
XX. Tool boxes to hold all this stuff that you can lock up.
Over your career, you will lose more dollars worth of tools
to people working with you borrowing them, than to any
YY. A pair of formed end tweezers, and a pair of surgical
splinter tweezers. The first you will handle pins with
easily and quickly, and the other you will be able to remove
all those brass splinters that you will fall heir to. The
reason that I include tweezers just for splinters is that if
you don't get the brass out right then, it works itself
inside and it never goes away. It just builds up cysts, and
festers up every so often.
ZZ. A hand nibbler. This is a sheet metal nibbling tool that
cuts a small square notch out of a piece of sheet metal up
to 16 gauge metal. You will use this to good effect to cut
out residential lock strikes when adjusting for house
movement. You can get these at a good hardware store, and
some electrical supply houses. W.W. Granger has these tools
listed in their catalog.
CY: Never used one.
AAA. A good sliding blade combination square for laying out
the location of holes to drill, locks to install, etc. The
removable blade will be very valuable for making precise
BBB. A set of Bi-Metal hole saws. If you can't get an entire
set, you will need theses sizes, 1", 1 1/8", 1 1/4", 1 5/8",
1 3/4", and 2 1/8", and the mandrels for them. Always have
an extra pilot bit. They will always break at the most
in-opportune time. Be sure to get hole saws that say
Bi-metal. Bi-metal hole saws will also cut steel doors as
well as wood.
CCC. An automatic center-punch. Get the smaller, pen sized
one if you can't afford both the large and small. These are
great for staking retainer caps, and removing security
screws as well as marking for holes to drill.
DDD. A set of removal tools for one way screws.
EEE. A Dremel tool set. Get a good one with all the bits.
Then get a carbide cutter and extra cut-off wheels. The
fibre reinforced discs are best and the safest. Several
companies make this type tool. Ryobi makes a pretty good
CY: don't own one.
There is just no end to this list of tools. This could run
pages and pages. Everyone that reads this list will be able
to add something left out. The above is what I consider to
be a average compliment of basic locksmith tools that a
person would have accumulated after a short time, if he was
well equipped. This is a bare minimum of what a
self-employed person needs, and this is just "hand tools".
After a person has been working for a while, he, or
she will have accumulated quite a bit more than this. It is
amazing how it adds up.
This has not even begun to address the pin kits and key
machines needed. This depends on where you go in
locksmithing. Locksmithing costs as much or more to get into
as any other craft does. It is not unusual for a locksmith
who does general work, and is set up to do everything, to
have 30 to 40 thousand dollars worth of tools and supplies
and still not have it all. That doesn't include stock.
After this, you get into the specialized tools for the type
locksmithing that you are going to do. Each field of
locksmithing has it's own tools. Most of the larger, more
expensive tools that you use will be furnished by your
employer. Some won't.
There are many disciplines in the physical security field.
The areas include, but are not limited to the following:
Automotive, Openings, Residential, Commercial, Industrial,
Bank and Vault, Safes, Detention, Access Control, Key
Duplication, General Shop work and Repairs. Each of these
niches within the industry takes special skills, and in some
cases special tools to work in that field successfully. Each
of these areas of expertise have tools peculiar to them with
a similar long list that you may or may not be able to use
As you can see, just having the basics will be expensive.
When you set up to be able to do everything, you are going
to drop a real pot full of money. I don't presume to tell
you that this is all you need, or that everyone needs every
item that I list here. This article covers tools that I have
found over many years to be useful and necessary to work
with for myself. What you actually get to work with is up to
you. These are just my suggestions.
Tools for Service Van
Key Duplicating Machine
Lock Pinning Kit
Different Auto Pinning Kits
Master Lock Pinning Kit
Whatever Pinning Kit
Corded Drill / 1/2" Chuck
Tools / Screw Drivers, Sockets, Wrenches Ect...
Drill Bits / Good Ones
Lock Installation Jig
Lock Drill Bits
Invertor or Generator / At Least 1200 Watt / 1600 Watt
Jumper Cables / Auto
Auto Opening Tools
Impressioning File / Pippin
Code Machine or Key Clipper
Lock & Key Reference's / Auto, Residential, Commercial
- posted 17 years ago