A Lockpicking Practicum With Schuyler Towne - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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A Lockpicking Practicum With Schuyler Towne

$325 per person Online Experience
5 sessions
Up to 20 people
See Dates
$325 per person
$325 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this five-part seminar, learn the basics of lockpicking, examine how locks are portrayed in popular media, and design a lock from scratch.

Course Description

This course will cover the anatomy of locks, the fundamentals of how to pick them, and a number of things that aren’t fundamental at all. Over the course of five sessions, we’ll familiarize ourselves with the tools in a lockpicker’s kit, learn how to pick a basic pin tumbler lock, and decode a combination lock. We’ll also think about keyspace reduction, examine lockpicking in popular media, and even design a new lock from scratch. By the end of this course, you’ll not only be equipped with a handy practical skill (and the tools needed to put it to practice) but you’ll also have unlocked a new perspective of the world around you, as well as the world portrayed in popular media.

Syllabus at a Glance

There are five total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on Thursdays.

Summer Section B: Meets Thursdays from 6–7:30 PM, beginning September 2

Session 1 (Thursday, 9/2, 6–7:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

Session 2 (Thursday, 9/9, 6–7:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 9/16, 6–7:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 9/23, 6–7:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Thursday, 9/30, 6–7:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

Summer Section C: Meets Thursdays from 8–9:30 PM, beginning September 2

Session 1 (Thursday, 9/2, 8–9:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

Session 2 (Thursday, 9/9, 8–9:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 9/16, 8–9:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 9/23, 8–9:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Thursday, 9/30, 8–9:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

Fall Section A: Meets Thursdays from 6–7:30 PM, beginning October 14.

Session 1 (Thursday, 10/14, 6–7:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

Session 2 (Thursday, 10/21, 6–7:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 10/28, 6–7:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 11/4, 6–7:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Thursday, 11/11, 6–7:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

Fall Section B: Meets Thursdays from 8–9:30 PM, beginning October 14.

Session 1 (Thursday, 10/14, 8–9:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

Session 2 (Thursday, 10/21, 8–9:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 10/28, 8–9:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 11/4, 8–9:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Thursday, 11/11, 8–9:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

Fall Section C: Meets Thursdays from 6–7:30 PM, beginning November 18.

Session 1 (Thursday, 11/18, 6–7:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

-week off-

Session 2 (Thursday, 12/2, 6–7:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 12/9, 6–7:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 12/16, 6–7:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Tuesday, 12/21, 6-7:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

*Please note that Session 5 of this section will be held on a Tuesday.**

Fall Section D: Meets Thursdays from 8–9:30 PM, beginning November 18.

Session 1 (Thursday, 11/18, 8–9:30 PM ET): How locks work + how we pick them

-week off-

Session 2 (Thursday, 12/2, 8–9:30 PM ET): Pick types

Session 3 (Thursday, 12/9, 8–9:30 PM ET): Security pins

Session 4 (Thursday, 12/16, 8–9:30 PM ET): Keyspace reduction + combination locks

Session 5 (Tuesday, 12/21, 8–9:30 PM ET): Let's make a lock 

*Please note that Session 5 of this section will be held on a Tuesday.**

Pricing Options

If you are unable to pay the ticket price for this course, a limited number of no-pay spots are available to increase accessibility for students, regardless of economic situation. Please note that this option is first-come, first-served, and reserved for those who would not otherwise be able to take this course. To learn more about our approach to pricing, including no-pay options, please visit our FAQ page.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses.

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

About Your Instructor
Schuyler Towne
Schuyler Towne

Schuyler Towne is a research scholar at the Ronin Institute studying the history and anthropology of security technologies. Before turning fully academic in his pursuits, he was a competitive lockpicker, frequently winning competitions in America and losing them abroad. He has been teaching people to pick locks for 13 years and has provided lockpicking consulting for a wide range of people, from manufacturers to mystery authors.

What Else You Should Know

This is an interactive, small-group, seminar-style course that meets over Zoom. Students may be invited to participate in discussions, workshop their projects, and receive feedback from the course instructor.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

Prior to the course, students will receive a set of lockpicks, several pin tumbler locks, materials for repinning those locks, security pins, and two combination locks. Please note that in order to ensure students receive their materials in time to participate fully in the course, we close registration a week prior to the course start date and are only able to ship to addresses within the United States at this time. 

Students will be expected to practice picking locks between sessions. There will be a one-hour video assigned after our fourth session to prepare students for their final class.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at experiences@atlasobscura.com if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Group Size

There are 20 spots available on this experience.

Who Can Come

This course is designed for participants 18 years of age and older. If you would like to take this course and are under 18 years of age, please reach out to us prior to enrolling.

Please note that in order to ensure students receive their materials in time to participate fully in the course, we close registration a week prior to the course start date and are only able to ship to addresses within the United States at this time. 

Dates and Availability
  • Thu, Nov 18, 2021
    6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
    $325
    Get Tickets
  • Thu, Nov 18, 2021
    8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
    $325
    Get Tickets