The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers

TOOOL sponsors and organizes a number of public education initiatives. In addition to our group meetings, TOOOL participates in lectures and talks at many conferences and conventions around the country and around the world... and often conducts hands-on workshops.

At many such events we organize "Lockpick Villages" where attendees are free to learn, play, and socialize while enjoying mini-lectures and shared lockpicking advice. We also facilitate sportpicking competitions at such conferences and other public forums.

Want to tinker with locks and tools the likes of which you've only seen in movies featuring police, spies, and secret agents? Then come on by the Lockpick Village, run by The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers, where you will have the opportunity to learn hands-on how the fundamental hardware of physical security operates and how it can be compromised.

The Lockpick Village is a physical security demonstration and participation area. Visitors can learn about the vulnerabilities of various locking devices, techniques used to exploit these vulnerabilities, and practice on locks of various levels of difficultly to try it themselves.

Experts will be on hand to demonstrate and plenty of trial locks, pick tools, and other devices will be available for you to handle. By exploring the faults and flaws in many popular lock designs, you can not only learn about the fun hobby of sportpicking, but also gain a much stronger knowledge about the best methods and practices for protecting your own property.

Is This Really a Good Idea?

People often ask us whether this sort of education and sharing of information is a wise and safe practice. While TOOOL is surely not blind to the fact that our hobby may seem rather different and even at times frightening to some members of the public, rest assured that these public workshops are helpful to decent, honest citizens... they are not helpful to those who would act as criminals. Allow us to explain.

There are essentially three "categories" of lock-opening techniques: (1) Lockpicking, (2) Quick & Dirty Opening, & (3) Covert Entry.

Lockpicking is what we do at sportpicking events and as a hobby. Lockpicking takes time, practice, and is generally impractical for burglars, thieves, etc.

Quick & Dirty techniques would include attacks like bumping, shimming, bypassing, and of course brute force. The latter is what criminals do. (There are some unsubstantiated cases of crimes that have possibly involved bump keys or shims, and this is part of why we warn the public about these risks, too.)

Covert Entry is, in a nutshell, what spies do. This is the compromising of locks in a masterful and almost undetectable way. Often, practitioners with this level of skill are employed by governments and are able to exploit weaknesses in high security locks, alarm systems, etc.

So what does this mean for people who come and learn from TOOOL at a Lockpick Village? Well, we have rather specific guidelines when it comes to teaching the public...

For Lockpicking, TOOOL is happy to provide both the knowledge and the means to engage in this hobby. We teach about basic picking techniques and we also sell lockpick equipment, sometimes in person and also on our web site. This is part of our core mission, to support the sportpicking hobbyist community.

When it comes to Quick & Dirty techniques, we provide knowledge but not the means. TOOOL does strive to educate the public about certain risks that are present in the cheapest (and sometimes the most common) lock designs. We explain why bumping is a risk, how to mitigate it, what padlocks cannot be shimmed, etc. However, TOOOL does not sell bump keys, bypass equipment, etc.

And Covert Entry is very outside the scope of a typical Lockpick Village. We provide neither the knowledge nor the means to tackle the most advanced and high security locks in use today. While some of our membership -- through their work in the security sector -- may have knowledge of some exploits such as these, they are not discussed publicly.

Does that help to answer some of your questions about what we do? Do you have any other concerns or curiosity about exactly what we teach? Then feel free to review our slides and instructional resources, or just stop on by a Lockpick Village and meet us in person sometime! All who come with a desire to learn and be safe are welcome.

If You'd Like to See a Lockpick Village at Your Event...

The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers is a nonprofit enterprise, and as such you do not have to contend with booking fees, speaking fees, or any other major financial considerations for having TOOOL members appear at your event. Our staff is all-volunteer, however, and as such the following provisions are standard for arranging a Lockpick Village or any other TOOOL appearance...

Travel and Lodging

Naturally, we need to get our volunteers to your event somehow. We have many members around the country so often travel consists of mileage or public transit costs as opposed to airfare, and we are happy to share rooms together when staying in hotels.

Shipping or Baggage

Often, as you might expect, we travel with considerably more luggage than most people. Either as checked baggage or sent via a shipping service, our equipment needs to arrive at your event.


All TOOOL Lockpick Villages feature new hardware in order to maximize the attendee enjoyment and ease-of-learning. It makes a world of difference to first try lockpicking on hardware that is not beat-up, old, and broken. We will work with you to supply the necessary locks and tools at a fraction of what they would cost in retail shops. Read more details here.

Event Admission

If you are inviting TOOOL to come and run a Lockpick Village as part of a larger event, we ask that our volunteers be given badges granting them admission. After all, when they're off-shift, we don't want them to have to go across the street to a coffee shop... let them browse around and see what other cool happenings there are at your conference or faire.

Food and Drink

While we do not require you to pay any sort of per diem, it is customary to reimburse our volunteers for food costs. We do stipulate that if your event is catered for either attendees or staff then TOOOL volunteers should be able to avail themselves of that option. If your event has a lunch/dinner service or a bar, meal or drink tickets are customary.

Pick Permission

The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers has methodically researched the laws relevant to lockpicks in all 50 states, so we are very equipped to properly inform you of the regulations relevant to a Lockpick Village at your event. Still, our optimism and attention to detail isn't always shared by facility owners, event managers, school administrators, etc. We do insist that prior to committing to an appearance anywhere, the TOOOL leadership will be shown proof of concrete understanding and permission from any supervising body or parent organization that is sponsoring a conference or controlling a venue.

Nothing is more frustrating than getting a whole Lockpick Village shipped, getting people in place, and having everything set up... only to hear at the last minute that a hotel manager or school dean or company executive is uncomfortable with attendees learning this knowledge, getting hands-on time, and occasionally purchasing pick tools and locks that they may take home with them for continued study.

Event Rider

You can download and review the full TOOOL rider in PDF form via the link on the left. If everything is satisfactory to you, fill in the necessary fields and sign the document. TOOOL prefers digital signatures, which are supported in all modern versions of Acrobat Reader. We will then counter-sign and send a copy back to you for your records.

Download Event Rider

TOOOL members do not stand to personally earn anything financially from their work with our organization. All proceeds from sales of picks, locks, t-shirts, etc. go directly back to TOOOL in order to fund additional research and equipment. If the above considerations are alright with you and you have the budget to support the presence of a Lockpick Village, a lockpicking game, or any other similar fun activity... it would be our pleasure to bring it to your event! Feel free to email so we can begin to discuss additional information about the size, scope, and planned dates of your event.

PLEASE NOTE - Because TOOOL's primary focus is outreach and public education, we only appear at events that are open to all. Registration, admission costs, badges for attendees, and other logistics typical to conferences and symposiums are of course not a problem... as long as permission to attend is not restricted to any private group, company, or institution. If you wish to schedule a lockpicking session at a private event, TOOOL cannot help you. Our members are allowed to engage in activities such as this, but such logistics cannot be arranged through TOOOL and any private or for-profit appearances must not be promoted under the TOOOL name or tied to TOOOL in any way, save for a brief mention in someone's speaker bio or background credentials.