Ratyoke is known throughout the entire world for making the best lock picks in the history of Locksmithing and Locksport. A master jeweler and world traveler, this full-time goldsmith puts his skills to work with his 100% custom, 100% handcrafted artisan lock picks.
Exotic woods and fine metals are found in his rare and highly sought after works of art. Read further and find out how he became the world’s finest handmade pick maker!
Also, be sure to check out this awesome guide Ratyoke made for crafting your own awesome lock picks just like him!
Q: Let’s start this interview off by telling us about yourself. What do you do for a living, and how are you involved with the Locksport community?
"I am a goldsmith. I make custom jewelry and do jewelry repairs. I’ve been doing that professionally for about 11 years. I also spent 5 years teaching English in South Korea and came back to the US at the end of 2016. That’s the reason I mostly disappeared from pick making for a while.
It has been a long time since I was picking locks, my involvement since about 2009 has only been making picks."
Q: What got you into lock picking and making lock picks?
"Lockpicking and pick-making both started in 2008. My friend’s father is a locksmith and my friend could pick locks and it just seemed like a cool skill to have. So the two of us hung out at his dad’s shop one night and my friend gave me some picks and a lock and briefly explained how to pick it. I worked on it for over an hour until I finally got it. After that I looked around online, read more about how to pick and found Southord, and ordered some picks. But I’m too impatient to wait for the picks so I made one or two before the Southord picks arrived. I was using anodized aluminum in a lot of my jewelry and artwork at the time, so I made some anodized handles for my picks. I posted photos on the forums and started getting people asking if they could buy them.
In 2008 I was working as a security guard at night, in addition to my jewelry work. That gave me a lot of time with nothing to do but pick locks and read books. I left that job around the end of 2008 and mostly stopped picking. I kept making picks so I stayed involved in Locksport in that way."
Q: Who were some of the people in the Locksport Community that you really looked up to or aspired to be as good as when you first started making lock picks?
"On LP101 I liked Locknewbie21’s picks. He had some nice curves on his picks. I also liked Raimundo’s picks. The 2 pick sets held together with a coiled spring and a safety pin so you could pin it somewhere. I thought that was a really great design. Really cool, like something someone should have in a spy movie."
Q: What are some lock picks you are working on at the moment?
"I have about 12 wood handle picks in various stages of completion. I just finished a pick last weekend with an ebony and holly handle and was very happy with the way it turned out. It got a really good response on Facebook and I plan to make more in a similar style this fall."
Q: Are there any lock picks you wish you could make but don’t have the time or resources to do so?
"If I had a CNC mill I would probably start producing my aluminum handle picks again. I think that would let me produce them fast enough that it would actually be worth my time to make them. All the ones I did in the past were cut and shaped completely by hand. It’s too time consuming and I got totally burnt out doing it.
I would also like to make some with precious metals and gems. I’m not really sure I want to put the money into materials for something like that though. Of course I could do one in silver and cubic zirconia, but that just doesn’t have the same impact as gold/platinum and diamonds.
There’s never enough time to make all the things I want."
Q: Do you have any tips on anyone wanting to get into making their own lock picks?
"Use files to make the final shape. So get some decent files and something to hold the pick steel when you file it, like a hand vise. I hate Chinese tools, but Harbor Freight is a good place to buy tools if you aren’t sure if you are ready to invest the money in good tools. If you are ready and willing to invest in better tools, then I recommend getting some good Swiss files first (brands like Frederich Dick, Glardon Vallorbe, Grobet). Jewelry suppliers carry them (www.riogrande.com or www.ottofrei.com)."
Q: Do you have any tips on anyone wanting to learn more about making jewelry or becoming a professional jeweler?
"Take classes at community college or university to learn the basics if you can, but I have never seen a college metals program that teaches the skills you need to work as a professional jeweler. If you want to become a professional I would recommend a jewelry trade school."
Q: In your opinion, how has the Locksport community changed over the years and where would you like to see it go from here?
"It seems there are more creative and higher-quality homemade pick designs now than when I started in 2008. I like to think that I had some influence on the people that started after me.
I would like to see the craftsmanship in homemade picks continue to improve."
Q: You have been known to be a world traveler, can you tell us a little about where you’ve been and do you have any plans on traveling again in the future?
"I taught English in South Korea for 5 years, which gave me a lot of opportunities to travel to Asia cheaply during school vacations. After I finished teaching in Korea last year I traveled for 7 months nonstop. I walked about 620 miles on the Camino de Santiago in Spain from Sevilla in the south to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest. Then traveled to Portugal (loved it and wish I had allowed myself more time there), Morocco (hated it and wish I hadn’t planned 2 weeks there), Korea, Turkey, U.A.E. (Dubai), Thailand, Myanmar, Taiwan, Japan, Korea (again!) and then back to Chicago in November.
I won’t be going anywhere this year. Korea and Japan are my favorites, and also the two languages I study, so hopefully in 2018. I also definitely plan to go back to Thailand and Taiwan someday."
Q: Finally, what is your favorite beer to drink while making lock picks?
"I don’t drink beer. I do like to get drunk on occasion...usually soju or some other Korean liquor. But no alcohol while I’m working."
If you would like to contact Ratyoke, you can reach him at the following…
Facebook: Ratyoke Custom Lockpicks