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How to Locate The Binding Pin When Learning to Pick Locks

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

How to Locate The Binding Pin When Learning to Pick Locks

The Binding Pin Principle is essential when learning how to pick locks

Hello Lock Pickers

Think about that: "I am a master binding pin locator"

This is a phrase I will never forget. The way it was said, the pride with which is was delivered, the oddness of the statement. It would not be out of place in a sci-fi movie, said by the nerdy geek in the corner, and immediately getting the attention of the generals, standing round their glass table map of the universe! The truth is much less dramatic, of course...

Years ago at a lock picking meet-up in the UK, during the early days of the internet I got chatting to a few of the lads and (inevitably) went for a few beers afterwards (Let's be honest, as much as I love picking, it's not a meet-up without some post-picking lubrication).


The best bit about any convention or meet-up.

As is typical with such events, while a lot was learned during the official presentations, some really interesting ideas we're exchanged in the bar. I mean think about it, when there's 50 of you looking at a stage and a screen, it's kind of broad strokes in terms of what's being taught, and what's being learned. But in a bar situation, it's pretty much one to one, and you can ask all the questions you want.

So me, Michael and Damon chatted about lock picking. Favorite tools, best techniques, strange locks, etc

Then out of the blue, Damon said "I am a master binding pin locator". I laughed, Michael laughed. Damon Smirked. "I am, I have trained myself, and I am now a master binding pin locator". You certainly had to be there but Michael and I ended up in hysterics.

The only reason we even get Binding Pins, if locks were made like the top image, there would be no binding pin, but since they're not quite perfect like the bottom (exaggerated) image luckily for us lock pickers, we do!


Once the laughter subsided, although still talking through giggles, I asked, "So, how does one become such a master, Damon?" He looked to the side, like he was debating whether to tell us, like it was some great secret, before saying "Training, hard-core training" which caused me and Micheal to totally lose it again and burst into laughter.

Poor Damon, in his dirty jeans and Star Wars T-Shirt, he'd become a figure of lighthearted ridicule. More beer was consumed.

"What does the training involve?" I asked "Do you lift weights with your fingers?" I continued, now repeatedly lifting my phone with my index finger, the back of my hand on the table like a mini bench-press'. "Or is it a cardio thing?" said Michael, running two fingers on the spot.


Damon, working out circa '09


"Obviously not" said Damon, "I get a lock and pick it. Then I write down the binding pin order, like 245631, or whatever. Then I Time myself picking it again, now I know the binding pin order, with a stop watch. Them I pick it again, and again and again - I only stop once I have halved my first time. So if it originally took me 90 seconds to pick it, I won't stop until I can do it in 45."

A strange silence descended on our table as all the ambient noise seemed to fade further into the background. I looked at Michael, who looked at me. Then we both looked at Damon, who put his hands out in front of him, palms up, paused for a second and said "These hands...they are kryptonite to binding pins", before relaxing back into his chair. More laughter, obviously. More beer was consumed.

How the binding pin is trapped between the plug and the housing when tension is applied and the plug slightly turned.


Of course - what's the first thing I did when I got home? That's right, consumed more beer. No, no, I got 'training'. And there's method to his madness. Because what this process of repetition does, is literally train you to identify binding pins. Working through a lock whose order of picking you know in advance, is focusing on binding pins and nothing else. If you do it with a 6 pin lock 13 times (which is how long it took me to half my original time, then you've actually picked 78 binding pins. Nothing else, no other pins, just binders. And it works.

Give it ago - just once. Get a lock - even one you've picked before, and write down the binding pin order. Then time yourself picking it at normal rate. Then keep picking it until you've halved your original time. You'll be surprised how fast you can get.


This is a Blinding Pin - something quite different and to be avoided.


And yet this exercise isn't about speed as such, that's just something to give you a structure. The aim is to make finding and picking binding pins second nature. And in my experience this method of 'Training' works.

How do you test it? Once you've cut your time in half, like immediately after you've succeeded - pick another lock and feel the magic work.

I don't teach nearly as many people to pick locks as I did then, but the occasion does arise, and without a second thought I recommend this technique to my student. Eve with a clear or cut-away lock is has value, it teaches about feedback, it teaches about tensioning - there's all manner of skills and lock awareness abilities that such specific and focused repetitive practice can  - and do - give you.

I lost touch with Damon, but my friend, if you read this, please get in touch. And for everyone else, do some training, some hard-core training!

Best wishes

Chris Dangerfield.


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