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A pre-sale of custom lockpicks designed by a competitive lockpicker to bring "Open Locksport" to market.
A pre-sale of custom lockpicks designed by a competitive lockpicker to bring "Open Locksport" to market.
1,159 backers pledged $87,407 to help bring this project to life.

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C67f3c2fad891e5c3ffdcd9fec4d279f original
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Your Turn

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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
  • 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:

Pick Sheets:

7 of:

  • Long Hook 
  • S Rake
  • Half-Ball 
  • Snowman 
  • Large Diamond 
 8 of: 
  • L Rake 
  • Medium Diamond 
  • Gonzo 
  • Medium Hook 
  • DeForest Diamond 
 6 of: 
  • Everything else 
 TOTAL: 135 picks per sheet 

 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.

- Jason

Days Late and Dollars Short

Jason Scott, of the board, speaking here.

First, let me apologize for the delay. It was a classic case of wanting to make a big splashing announcement over the understood requirement of posting frequently, and that's a mistake not worth making.

Fundamentally, we are at this position:

  • Pretty much all lock/sticker boxes are out. A few remain, still.
  • The design is locked and verified.
  • The design is additionally locked on the larger size of metal. (Cheaper to do etching).
  • Now it's just double checking the numbers and acquiring funds.

And the last two are the big deal. As you probably know, the board has roles within it, with me the Loudmouth Organizer, Jason Aller the Numbers Guy, Andrew the Money and Arrangements Dude, and then Brian Martin, the Spotter. We then have Schuyler as Designer/QA Guy.

After some back and forth, Andrew came back with some estimates and prices for beginning production. The prices were higher than I'd been led to believe and are slightly out of what I'd call the range of "at-hand cash" (Roughly low five figures). So I've asked Andrew to pass the information over to Jason to go over them and ensure all the prices and costs are correct and that there's nowhere we can save money without sacrificing quality. (For example, we already found that we were using pick-quality metal for the handles in the original estimates, which was silly. That's been fixed.)

Either way, the next part will be raising funds to buy picks in these batches, whatever the size is. I had initial discussions with a sponsor who would have funded these picks in return for an advertisement packed in with the sets, but they've not been responsive through the holidays or recently. So my hope is to talk to other potential sponsors about funding or contributing towards batches of the picks in return for being mentioned or having some wrap-in item. (Obviously, they would not be affecting the picks in any way, such as etching their name on it or some similar situation.)

Meanwhile, Schuyler has begun the process of interviewing with potential companies to hire him as the same sort of designer he had previously been working as. If that contingency comes through, he will be putting a larger portion of funds into the non-controlled-by-him bank account than he already has. (Money from that account was used to make the rounds of protoypes)

That's where we are, on January 25th. We continue to be committed to making this right.

100th Update: A New Year

Jason Scott, speaking for the board and for Schuyler.

The hope was to have picks in the mail before the end of 2012, but it didn't happen. What we do have are some photos taken this week of the first set of picks being worked on. As production ramps up, the process and approach will be refined. Schuyler sent along some photos and some paragraphs about what was being worked on.

"The guy on the mill is my friend James who helped me make a quick Jig to hold the picks perfectly flat while I'm spot welding. The first round of spot welding had some frustrating errors, but all have been perfect after the jig. With the success of the prototype I'll be making a more durable one out of aluminum or something similar to use for subsequent spot welding."

"The other photos are of finished picks, next to their unfinished counter parts. I took a bunch of these because I know some people have had concerns seeing the unfinished picks that the picks will look like shit. They both feel and look great after their polish. Additional update - Amy has decided to purchase a tumbler online tonight to finish all subsequent batches of picks. She will put the money up for it out of her modest savings and I will reimburse her. She saw how long hand-finishing was taking and decided to step up. More details on that to follow, but she's a nice girl."

The first batch of picks will go out in the beginning of January and the next batches of picks are slated for production. Thanks for your patience as we start getting these out the door.

Christmas 2012

Jason Scott from the board. 

A handful of boxes remain to be settled/tracked/mailed. 

The raw etched picks arrived last week. Schuyler has been assembling the first set of picks to go out to backers. The next generation (5th revision) picks (the ones with the larger picks-per-sheet form factor for less expensive etching) are in the process of coming back for evaluation from the etcher.

The first sets are planned to arrive in backer hands as soon as they're ready. Photos of the picks will be put up as soon as possible.

Schuyler continues to schedule paid appearances to pay towards the manufacturing of sets, along with proceeds from his day job.

In the summer of this year, Schuyler revealed his battle with paralyzing depression, his impending loss of home and no solution or resolution to the kickstarter campaign.

On December 15th, he asked his girlfriend Amy to marry him. She has said yes.

Updates shortly.

Logistics, New Revision of Picks

Jason Scott here.

Here's the short form of updates.

  • The first shipment of etched picks and hands should be at Schuyler's shortly. He will then assemble and the first shipment will go out.
  • This is a relatively small shipment, as discussed - but the goal is to have them in the hands of actual backers as soon as possible.
  • There is now a new revision of the pick/handle templates, for 12" wide metal instead of 6" metal. This Revision 5 pattern is up on
  • Lock boxes still go out, although it's a tiny handful and a one-by-one basis.
  • A store will be set up soon selling off excess inventory of locks and t-shirts.

The rest of this is about logistics, mostly for historical record. It can be ignored.

The plan all along has been to treat this process as time-shifted, not behind schedule. The reason for this is that trying to rush the project along to achieve a "deadline" would inevitably lead to shortcuts, inferior work, and leaving the world no better than it was. So, we've been moving along carefully to close out the various open aspects, but also to treat the manufacture of the picks as a proper task and goal.

The original template of the picks was on a 6" wide sheet of metal, which is what the first 4 revisions have been. As we were preparing to estimate and order larger sets of metal and etching, the etcher brought an important fact to our attention: the cost of etching a 6" sheet is the same as etching a 12" one. That is, the same "task" cost would apply whether we were cutting a sheet that was any size between 6" and 12". With that being the case, we could apply much more 

It is not clear why the etcher brought up this cost-savings measure 4 jobs in, but there could be any of a number of legitimate reasons it wasn't. What it does mean is we have both a cost-cutting measure, and the need for another round of QA.

As we know the metal works and we are using the metal for the first order, that won't have to be QA'd, but the order of two sheets of 12" metal will definitely need to get inspected before we discuss working on what will be a thousands-of-dollars order of the new etching.

Cost-cutting is a big deal in this case - the old design yielded 2.5 sets per sheet. Now we will have (roughly) 6.5, a huge improvement and much less expensive. Once the test set is signed off by Schuyler, we'll begin getting final cost estimates and ordering batches as funding permits.

It is difficult to see a process through, even one of static pieces of metal. Thanks again.