This door is missing something…

There are two exit devices on this door, making it illegal if it is a fire exit.

This door on Capitol Hill in Seattle is bananas! Two exit devices on one door requires some coordination if you’re trying to get out. Hopefully you’re not in a hurry. Imagine if there was a fire and there was a lot of smoke. You’re coughing, you can’t see, and the door won’t open when you push the bar. That’s why this is actually illegal for designated fire exits. The lower device should be deactivated.

That isn’t a strike plate!

The DIY crowd too busy to read the instructions sometimes does things that are just bananas, like installing this deadbolt faceplate in place of a strike plate. The hole in this faceplate is just barely larger than the bolt intended to sit inside it, so it would be nearly impossible to lock this door. Strangely enough, the deadbolt actually worked. Whoever installed this deadbolt measured very carefully!

This is a deadbolt face plate installed as a strike plate. The hole is the same size as the bolt so it is very hard to use this deadbolt.

Bicycle Locks and Angle Grinders

A few years ago there was a spate of failed bicycle U locks after Kryptonite switched to a disc detainer style lock but had quality control problems. People were calling me every day to remove these busted locks from their bicycles. I could do so in a few minutes using a tool called a battery powered cutoff wheel or angle grinder.

How do bicycle locks actually stand up to common attacks?

Using an angle grinder one can cut through all but the hardest alloys of metal very quickly. Once lithium ion batteries came out it gave enough power to do this quickly and easily and the angle grinder became the tool of choice for cutting off these locks which in turn became popular due to the prevalence of bolt cutters and special techniques for overcoming cable locks.

Enter the Altor Saf U-lock. The manufacturer claims that this lock can withstand an angle grinder for 30 minutes! I am interested to know if this test includes diamond grit or not. The lock is $300 and weighs 13 pounds (approaching the cost and weight of a decent bicycle when I was a teen).

Note that an angle grinder can still cut through this lock. Angle grinders are really loud and make lots of sparks so you would hope that this would attract attention, maybe people would call the police, etc but unfortunately Seattle is now big and impersonal enough that people now walk past somebody cutting a lock with an angle grinder.

I have personally cut probably close to 100 bicycle locks off using an angle grinder and not once did somebody call the cops or ask what I was doing. In their defense I wouldn’t approach a stranger using a dangerous loud power tool with sparks flying around either. You’d think that at least once somebody would at least call the police or ask why I was cutting a bicycle lock off though.

TSA Locks aren’t very secure

I’ve never done it before but recently some people came to me with locked luggage with a TSA lock. Their combination wasn’t working, but nowadays most luggage has a key override for the TSA to unlock it. This lock takes a dimple key but it is insecure enough that I was able to unlock it with regular lockpicks. Don’t trust locks with TSA key overrides on them, if I can pick them I’m sure that plenty of other people can.

Kwikset strike plate screws aren’t flush

I’m not sure why Kwikset did this but the strike plate included with their 816 deadbolt doesn’t come with screws that are flush when installed. This becomes a problem in older buildings where the doors are installed with very little room between the door and frame. Since the screws aren’t flush, when the door is shut the screws will scratch the door, or you may not be able to shut the door at all.

In order to avoid this problem you must mortise the strike plate in farther than flush with the surface.

The Kwikset deadbolt comes with a strike whose screws don’t screw in flush with the strike plate.

Read the Instructions

I wonder why the door won’t close?

The thing about ordering locks for doors is that you have to know a few things to minimize labor of installation. What prep is the door? How thick is the door? What is the backset of the lock supposed to be?

Whoever installed this lock didn’t know that there are two backsets for this lock and they ordered the wrong one.

Would you go down there?

Recently had an interesting problem at a local club in Seattle. Their door wouldn’t open all of the way. I determined that this metal plate was rubbing on the door, but the door wasn’t sagging and the doorframe was square. The only solution was that the plate must be higher than originally designed. Turns out that two decades of corrosion actually lifted the plate up quite a bit.

Dark Abode

I had to hammer the rust off of this plate for about an hour before it sat flush on the ground.

Lost your motorcycle key? Call me to get a new one.

I made a key for this bike even as the skies dumped on me. #monsoonseason

If you lost your key, ask the dealership how much a new one will cost. Sometimes they will have information in their database for replacing your lost key for cheap. If not, I have a $200-250 solution. I will make a new key for your bike.

Picking a TSA lock

Somebody came to me with luggage that had a malfunctioned combo lock on it but also had a TSA keyway. I had them tell me what was inside the luggage to confirm it was theirs and picked the TSA lock. It was an interesting pick because the pins were on the side of the keyway, probably a dimple key of some kind. Had to lift the pins sideways with my hook pick.