Jason Scott, speaking for the board here.
Commitments both travel and project kept me from gathering all the threads until now. and here we are. We're now at a turning point in the production, so it's time to talk about all the possibilities.
Reviews of Newest Revision of Picks from Test Batch
When we last left things, we'd made a small batch of the newest revision of lockpicks, using the metal and etcher we sourced. Schuyler then took possession of this batch and began putting them together, polished them by hand, and then we sent it out to a number of folks for their assessment.
From members of TOOOL Netherlands: "We both opened locks that we hadn't before (mind you, we just started the competition). I didn't have to get used to the amount of feedback, it felt quite familiar. The grips are just a tad thinner than the grips I 'm used to, but i could get accustomed to them. Grips are a bit sharp, could tumble a bit longer. We liked them!"
From Lix: "The only thing I noticed was the edge that the chemical etching created... a possibility that the tumbler would eliminate the edge. I'm going to keep playing with them, and maybe file the edge of on some of the picks that I'm less likely to use for comparison. I'll let you know what I think after so more time with them. All in all though, I am extremely happy with the picks. The handles are thinner and lighter than I expected they would be, which is good. The feedback from the lock is fantastic, unlike any other pick I've used. They do feel a little "delicate" so to speak, but I am also very heavy handed."
Others were handed lockpicks to try them out; a person newer to lockpicking liked the feel, while others have not gotten back to us with an answer yet. On the whole, people seem to find these picks good products, and are concerned about the finishing and smoothing of them. Schuyler says he is aware of this and has refined the process of making the picks, including his fiancee' covering a tumbler for future use.
Some Hard Numbers / Pieces of Information
People who are not into the nitty gritty can skip this section - a summary comes into the next section. From questions I hit the group with a while ago:
- For the metal that will form the picks: Who is the vendor that we are looking at?McMaster Carr
- Which part number?9074K999 (SPRING TEMPERED 1074/1075 SPRING STEEL .020" THICK, 12-3/8" WIDE X 100 FT COIL)
- What Price? $722.5. not including shipping
- How long is the material? 100 feet (shortest they sell)
- How wide is the material? 12-3/8 inch
- For the metal that will form the handles: Who is the vendor that we are looking at? McMaster Carr
- Which part number? 9784K51 http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/119/3738/=l4rob8
- What is the quote? 61.83 not including shipping
- How long is the material? 100 inches ( longest they sell)
- How wide is the material? 12 inches
- Are we paying to ship to the etcher? Yes
- For the pick sheet I saw 6 full sets of 20 picks, a 10 and a 5 per sheet. Is a sheet 1 foot by 2 feet of material? Yes
- What is the size of the handle sheet? 1 ft x 2 ft
- When we are quoted etching prices and they refer to a "pair" is that two of the same sheet, or one pick sheet and one handle sheet? When requesting the quote from the etcher I specified pair (1 handle & 1 head) they replied with prices per sheet. We pay per sheet, not pair.
- Can we mix sheets to get the discount, or is the discount rate per sheet? In other words if I order 100 sheets of each type do I pay [(100 * the 100 rate) + (100 * the 100 rate)], OR [200 * the 200 rate]? My understanding is that the discount comes from duplicates of the same type.
Information about the picks per sheet from Schuyler:
- Long Hook
- S Rake
- Large Diamond
- L Rake
- Medium Diamond
- Medium Hook
- DeForest Diamond
- Everything else
Handles: 100.5 per sheet (that is 201 total, but we need 2 handles per pick.)
What this all Costs
We have a lot more spreadsheet than this, but we ran all the numbers of the sheets needed and the costs involved. Here they are. For brevity, I'm not including the whole spreadsheet, but it just breaks down the picks-per-sheet calculations and how many are needed. There's some calculations for overages and breakage, and so on. These are realistic numbers.
In total, 140 pick sheets (at $722.5 a sheet) and 180 handle sheets (at $61.83 a sheet) will be needed. This is 280 feet of pick sheet stock and 360 feet of handle stock.
The total cost for the material is $2167.50 for the pick sheets and $5564.70 for a total of $7732 material costs.
The cost to etch these 320 sheets will be $80 a sheet, for a total of $25,600 etching costs.
So, the estimated cost to provide all promised picks to all backers minus shipping is $33,332.20.
If there's concerns about these calculations the spreadsheets can be passed along for others to glance at, but that appears to be the number to make all picks.
So Now What
To recap, we have:
- A tested, working design for a Schuyler-Towne-designed lockpick set.
- A procedure (metal, etching, assembling, finishing) to make the lockpicks
- Thousands of owed lockpicks using this procedure and metal
- $1000 from a generous donator who wants to see this effort completed
- Volunteers willing to help assemble the picks along with Schuyler, and overseen by him to ensure quality control
- No other financial reserves.
Like so many other situations, it's a case of needing money to complete the task. Tens of thousands of dollars, in fact. To be clear, it is best to do these pick etchings in sets, i.e. roughly $9,000-$10,000 worth of etching at a time, and not, say, sheet-by-sheet. The savings are considerable and the discounts kick in.
We've talked among ourselves in the Repair Board, and there are several approaches we've come up with to move forward. They include:
- Tithe Schuyler for years. Currently he is still working as a barista but he is actively seeking to become a full-time designer again, as well as taking paying jobs to give speeches.
- Manufacture the sheets and sell a percentage of them to fund each run. (We do not have numbers for this at the moment, but the percentage sold versus provided to backers could be anything from 1 in 10 to 10 in one.)
- Sponsors hop in to cover as much of the cost as possible in return for including information or other items in the packaging for the picks.
- We give people the option to walk away, declare it quits, to no longer want anything from this kickstarter, as a way of donating towards finishing it by reducing that $33k number. (Note: Not to vote to kill the whole endeavor or anything, just to give people the option to be taken off the list of people owed picks.)
We absolutely, definitively, utterly do not want to do a kickstarter or fundraising for the costs. It doesn't pass the smell test and is not the way to work on things at this juncture.
So, while we're considering this situation, I am opening it up to you, his backers, to discuss what your thoughts are. The board can proceed in a number of directions at this point. The picks are real, they're in hands and are proven to be actual picks and to do what Schuyler promised they would do. But we need to now make a lot of them. And there is, at this moment, $1000 of the needed $33,000 to complete the task.
Thanks again for your patience between updates. I'm off any intense travel schedule for the next few months, and mean to bring updates more frequently.