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A Phoenix Locksmith Blog

The Life of a Locksmith, this blog follows the owner and locksmith of Andrews Lock and Key around the Phoenix metro area servicing Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Gilbert, and Chandler 24 hour a day 7 days a week with scheduled calls and emergency calls.Check us out every Sunday on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX at 11:00 AM on 1100 AM radio.  


So on Tuesday of this week I got a call to do a re-key out in the Arcadia district. Andrew offered to go with me but I was insistent that I do this one on my own. I have been trying to do more calls on my own lately and I had been successful on all of the jobs I had done on my own. Until this one. The dead bolts were straight forward but the door knobs weren't. I took one off and it had this weird piece on the back that kept the lock cylinder from coming out of the housing.
I called Andrew and sent him a few pictures of the lock to try and figure out how to get the knob apart. He walked me through a few different things but nothing worked, the lock wouldn't come apart. He finally said he wouldn't need to take the knob apart to re-key the lock and left it at that. It didn't take me long to figure out that I had enough room to remove the tail piece and slide a plug follower in to the cylinder. Then the next problem.
I repined the lock but because I was second guessing my self the lock just felt funny to me. At this point I start to feel pretty dehydrated and of course I forgot to stop and get some water on my way to the job. So I try and push forward but nothing seems to work for me. I cant get a simple dead bolt reinstalled and I cant get a key to move freely in one of the locks. At this point Andrew calls me and asks for an update. Needless to say I was not doing as well as I or he had hoped and I was no where near as far a long with job as I needed to be.
Andrew ended up having to come to the job and help me finish. I had no confidence in anything I had done and thought I was doing something wrong the entire time. After Andrew got on the job site and double checked everything I did he let me know everything I had done was right. So why did I think I made all of those mistakes? Lack of confidence and dehydration are my guesses. I need to learn to trust the training I have received as well as make sure I have water with me at every job. The Arizona sun is no joke and will quickly make you lose your head.

epicfail1 epicfail2




My first trophy...

Today we got a call to go and re-key a house close to the shop. This is kind of my first taste of locksmithing. I have hung around the shop and Andrew has shown me a few things but this is my first time working at a customer’s house. Andrews said it was pretty standard residential rekey. We had about 6 locks to re-key for the home owner. It went pretty well until the end. Andrews tackled most of the house but I did a few of the locks. I got everything off the house pretty ok, got my locks shimmed and rekeyed, started putting the locks back on the house, and that’s when things stopped going smoothly. The last lock on one of the back doors gave me a hard time and me being me thought I just needed to use more force to get the deadbolt back on the house..... I was wrong. The tail piece on a deadbolt is made to go only one way and I had it going the wrong way. The difficulty I was having was me wedging the tailpiece the wrong way in to the lock. So after getting schooled by Andrew I had to run to the shop and pick up a new lock because we used all the new locks we stocked on other doors in the house. Came back, shimmed and rekeyed the new deadbolt and put it on the door. The customer was happy and I got a "trophy" from my first broken lock. So the lesson from all of this: don’t force the lock and pay attention to details. Thanks for reading everyone.

I met a scammer locksmith today

So today was kind of an irritating day but very informative. From day to day I basicly just disassemble and reassemble locks as well as rekey them and work on picking the locks. I am getting pretty decent at rebuilding residential locks but picking them is another story. I still haven’t been able to pick locks as fast as Andrew, if I am even able to pick them at all. He keeps telling me it will come and I know he has been doing this a lot longer than me but I still beat my self up about not picking locks very well.

So today I am in the van at the shop working on a few locks and a colleague of Andrew's showed up to the shop. We will call him Mark for anonymities sake. He was kind of stand offish toward me but he and Andrew started talking about locksmithing stuff. I didn’t pay super close attention; I mostly wanted to finish building these locks and start trying to pick them. After a few minutes they both came outside and we all started chatting about different jobs we all had been on and seen. Mostly Andrew and "Mark" were chatting; I was mostly just nodding, agreeing, and laughing when appropriate.  After a few minutes I realized "Mark" didn’t really have a lot of experience locksmithing, barely more than me.

Andrew was talking to him about working for the scammers and how they did things. After a few more minutes "Mark" got a call he had to run on. He bragged about how he was going to scam a few hundred dollars out of this little old lady and then took off. After he left and seeing how pissed off I appeared Andrew sat me down and filled me in on who this kid was and why he brought him around. Basically this kid was interested in becoming a locksmith, found an ad saying he could make over $100k a year as a locksmith and went in. They gave him a phone, some tools, and a stocked truck and said good luck.

So in all actuality he didn’t really have much more experience than I did. Andrew was trying to pick his brain to figure out how the scammers have such a high call volume and also wants to try and help "Mark" learn this industry the right way... like he has been showing me. I was still pretty mad but it made a lot more sense to me now. On the one hand this guy has no more experience than I do and is making a lot more money than I am right now. The downfall is that he has no real respect for the trade and doesn’t know how to take care of the customers. I guess the old saying "slow and steady wins the race" is something I will have to remember.


500 key pickup

Ryan 500 Key PickupOne thing the other techs are always talking about is "locksmith bootcamp" and how lucky I am to not have to go through the training they did. They always talk about locking each other in bathrooms with difficult locks to pick. Another thing they always talk about is "500 key pick up". Basically it’s a good way to help with key identification which I guess is pretty important for a locksmith. I got my first taste of that game today. Andrew decided to "accidently" knock over the key rack this morning. A few hundred keys dumped all over the floor. His response? "Well good thing I wanted to ring those up and put them in the new truck." awesome... So guess who got to sit in the warehouse sorting keys for two days? You guessed it, this guy right here. But it did pay off. A customer came by the shop to get a duplicate key made for his truck. I got handed the key and knew exactly which key blank we needed. I have been having a much easier time with finding keys for different locks and ignitions.

Allow me to introduce myself...

Hello blogging world. My name is Ryan. I am 31 years old and I live in Mesa, AZ. I recently decided to take on an apprenticeship with Andrews Lock and Key as a locksmith apprentice. So a quick(ish) background on me. I worked in the corporate environment for most of my life in a few different positions. Before that I went to school part time and worked for my mom as a dispatcher for one of the larger plumbing companies in town. I was always pretty unhappy in the corporate world. About three years ago I decided to leave that life and go back to school. I have been going to school full time and part time as money allows for the past three years and been driving a cab to pay the bills. In April of this year (2015) I was given the opportunity to take on a unique apprenticeship with Andrews Lock and Key as a locksmith apprentice. I have known the owner for several years and helped out around the recording studio he owns Underdog Studios as well. So this blog is going to be mainly focused around what I learn as an apprentice and hopefully help educate others about this industry and maybe you will see some posts about other aspects of my life. I am an avid gamer, motorsports enthusiast, and enjoy playing bass. So sit back and enjoy the show lol.

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