I'm really enjoying this series of articles from Timothy McSweeney. In their latest issue, they talk to Ken Doyle, a professional safecracker who explains how he got into the trade and some of the most unusual things he experienced.
Q: How did you learn to be a safecracker?
A: In 1978 I took a correspondence course to learn the basics of locksmithing. The ad in the Popular Mechanics classifieds said, "Be your own boss."
The course consisted of about 70 lessons. I'd study each lesson and practice the particular skill required, like how to fit a key, lock disassembly, rekeying, etc.
Q: What does it mean to fit a key?
A: This is only one of a dozen basic locksmith skills. You insert a blank key, wiggle it while turning and the bumping action creates marks on the key blade. You file where the marks are until the key turns in the lock. It's also known as "impressioning."
Q: It seems like you could use this knowledge in bad ways if you wanted to.
A: Clients often ask, jokingly, whether we learn our trade in prison.