Once you’ve been introduced to the idea of lockpicking, hopefully, you’ve also learned about the Golden Rules of Lockpicking. (If you’re not familiar with them, check out our post on them! Also, check out our other blog post, “Is Lockpicking Legal?”) If you do recall the two Golden Rules of Lockpicking, you’ll know that rule number two is, “Don’t pick locks that you rely on or that are in use.” When thinking about this rule, it often begs the question of what locks we should pick and where to get them. In fact, it’s probably one of the most common questions that Bob and I hear as lockpicking trainers.
Fortunately, there are many options. In general, there are more locks in our day-to-day lives that we interact with than we recognize. The first and most obvious source of locks is a store, whether it’s your local hardware store or an online shop. The hardware store or even Amazon can be a great place to pick up padlocks that you can practice on. (Here is a link to a Master 6835YLW Padlock that a friend turned me on to! For you more advanced pickers, this is NOT your average Master No. 3 lock!) I have a collection of padlocks that I sometimes use for real-life applications, but I always pull off afterward for practicing. (As long and I’m not picking the lock while it’s in use and protecting something, I’m still following the spirit of rule number two!)
If you’re on a budget, there are other options! Here are some ideas on how you can get free locks or at least get the most bang for your buck!
Look Around Your/Other’s House
My first suggestion is to take a look in that one drawer you have… Yes, you know the one. The one that is usually somewhere in or near the kitchen contains all the random junk like letter openers, batteries, and the instructions for your garage door opener. My point is that you may just have some random locks laying around the house that you’re not using. Deem those as “practice locks” and pick away! Also, ask your friends and family if they have any old locks laying around the house they would be willing to part with.
Look on Craigslist or Other Listing Sites
Check out websites like Craigslist in their “free” sections. You may only find ads giving away 1 or 2 locks at a time, but if it’s not a huge inconvenience, this can be a great way to get a collection going without spending money. If you’re really lucky, you may hit a jackpot and find large batches of locks that someone will part with for free! Sometimes locksmiths end up with a decent-sized box of old locks they can’t really sell or have a need for.
Find a Lockpicking Buddy
One way to cut down on the amount of money you spend on locks is to find a friend who is also into lockpicking. If you and your friend make sure to buy different locks, you can always trade locks once you’re done mastering them. This is an easy way to stretch your cash and get more bang for your buck. If you feel comfortable with it, you can also join one of the many online locksport communities, such as /r/lockpicking on Reddit.com. There, people have been known to trade or just send fellow pickers challenging locks through the mail.
Love Loves have a lot of controversy behind them. There are lockpickers that say under the right circumstances, picking love loves is okay. Other lockpickers say that ethically, those locks should be left alone. Check out our blog post on The Ethical Debate Behind Love Locks to learn more about this topic! (Coming out later this week! Promise!)
Whether you fall on one side of the fence or another, one source of obtaining free locks is by way of love locks. If you decide to go down this path, it is very important to note that is really in your best interest to first contact the local government in charge of public places and organize a planned picking. (This will help ensure that you are picking locks that are on public property.) Also, make sure you do your research and know the local laws.
So there are 4 ideas for getting free or “on-a-budget” locks! Did I miss any? Be sure to share some of your ideas on where to get some practice locks!
Christine & the LockEx Team