How can I hire a locksmith in Brooklyn to open this foot locker?
November 22, 2017 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I inherited a 1960s steel Army footlocker from a relative, but no one has a key. What is the best way to hire a locksmith in the Brooklyn area who could help?

So far my experience is googling locksmiths and being overwhelmed by how many there are. When I ask about an estimate, they charge $30 to even come look. And regarding the lock, they can't tell me if it would be $50 or $500. They are very anti-ballpark estimate. The majority of reps have been vague and gruff and just want all my personal contact info up front.

I've never had to do this before and just don't want to pay an arm and a leg. Any advice?
posted by deern the headlice to Home & Garden (24 answers total)
Are you sure it's not a standard (all pretty much the same) footlocker key? You might be able to get one at a hardware or camping store for pennies to find out...
posted by acm at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

You should be able to pick the lock fairly easily. However, if you’re not up for that, is there a code stamped on the front of the lock? If so, that information should be enough to get the right key without involving a locksmith. For example, locks stamped “T46” (or variants thereof, such as T46K etc.) use a single key, so you can just buy it.
posted by aramaic at 9:27 AM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I recently had need of a locksmith and just went on Yelp. They were replacing my whole lock and it was only about 100 or so; I found a guy in Bed-Stuy. I'll try to find the name and Memail you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on November 22, 2017

You could try asking for someone with amateur lockpicking skills on Craigslist to take a look at it instead of a professional locksmith if you're flexible on time and want inexpensive.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pictures here -
posted by deern the headlice at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2017

A while back there were a lot of reports of very sketchy locksmiths who would say the charge was 50, show up, and demand much more, and were not necessarily competent. If you can find a locksmith with a storefront, take to footlocker to them.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

You can possibly find someone that would do it for free or a nominal fee via the NY chapter of Toool.
posted by Candleman at 9:51 AM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I bet that'd take you a few seconds to pick yourself.
posted by ph00dz at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've used Jay and would recommend him. He responded to my inquiry right away, showed up on time, fixed my problem and charged me what he quoted me. Straightforward guy imo.
posted by rdnnyc at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2017

I got one of these a couple years ago and it was locked, to pick it all I had to do was insert a flat head screw driver and fiddle around with it, trying to rotate the mechanism. Only took a minute and the lock looks identical to the one you've shown.
posted by FallowKing at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

Might be worth giving one of these a try, if you are not in a hurry.
posted by tman99 at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2017

As mentioned above, replacement keys can be purchased: T46 Trunk Footlocker Key 2 Pack
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2017

Also seconding having used a flat head screwdriver on a similar lock. Took less than a minute.
posted by brokeaspoke at 11:00 AM on November 22, 2017

Do you want to keep the lock? I've taken reasonably sturdy padlocks off with a Dremel before. Wear eye protection and be prepared to go at it for a little while -- and maybe Google around for better burglar technique as that's just the tool I've had on hand and thieves must know something I don't because it was loud and time consuming and not a good way to break in to something unnoticed. But, it's just metal, you can grind it away if you're not attached to the lock itself.
posted by kmennie at 11:11 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Add me to the "stick a flat head screwdriver in there and twist it around a bit and it will come undone" chorus.
posted by ralan at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2017

Do you care at all if the lock works after opening it? That would be the work of minutes to break open, likely with minimal cosmetic damage.
posted by bonehead at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2017

Those are super easy to pick with a screwdriver. Sometimes you don't even need that. I had one footlocker similar to yours that could be opened with a well-placed thump near the lock. If you don't care if it still works afterwards, just pry the hasp open.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:08 PM on November 22, 2017

I'm pretty embarrassed to say I spent a solid hour with a flathead screwdriver moving it around, trying different angles... nothing. No idea why. I went with instructions from YouTube about the angling of the screwdriver and so forth.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by deern the headlice at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2017

In my experience you gotta really jam the screwdriver in so it feels like you are binding on the inner works, otherwise you are just moving around the outside ring. However, just assume this could end up busting the lock and then you have to pry it open. Is it possible to knock or drill the pin out of the hinge on that hasp?
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2017

Turn the trunk upside down and have another go at it.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:09 PM on November 22, 2017

Angle and twist and jiggle the screwdriver like the imaginary key, but you still have to actually be pulling out on the latch to open it. It's less like a lock that you unlock and then it's unlocked, but more like a regular door with a special handle. You have to twist the insides around just right and be pulling so that it opens when you get it right. Trying to pull too hard makes it harder to twist about the inside so pull gently.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:56 PM on November 22, 2017

If you can get it to a lock smith, you'd save money. There used to be locksmiths in the parking lots of stores in the NW, not sure of that's a thing in NY. Maybe a hardware store employee could help.
posted by jennstra at 3:05 PM on November 22, 2017

These days, lockpicking is a hobby/competitive sport. If you have transportation and can move the foot locker, maybe take it to a meeting of your local chapter of TOOOL?
posted by kandinski at 3:33 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'd triple the recommendation for TOOOL. Be prepared to let them close the thing and have other members try, perhaps (hey, a new challenge - can I try too?). Hell, if you stuck around for a meeting, I'd be they'd have you picking the thing successfully before you left (as well as a simple masterlock while you were there).

If not that, certainly show up at a locksmith with the locker; don't pay the fee for them to come to your house.
posted by el io at 1:09 AM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

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