Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Mystery of the Locked Toolbox

While helping to organize the the infamous clock parts, I noticed my grandfather's toolbox. Of course, it was probably filled with your run of the mill tools. However, it had a big, thick padlock on it. That meant that I couldn't pop it open and confirm this. What if the toolbox was filled with gold bars, or some other precious items?! I mean, a locked toolbox is a brilliant hide-in-plain-sight location, right?

I just had to know what was inside.

I started off by examining the toolbox and lock and it all looked very solid. Had I access to a bolt cutters, I would have just given those a try. Briefly, I thought about using a hacksaw to cut through the lock, but that seemed like an awful lot of work, and I didn't really have the time.

Naturally, I thought of the book I had read, How To Open Locks With Improvised Tools, and started to think up ways I could put together a quick set of lock picks. But again, no quick options seemed available.

Finally, I came up with a plan: I'd try utilizing one technique, and if that failed, I'd let the project go. I was certain the idea I had in mind was a dud, but I at least had to give it a shot.

So I dragged the heavy toolbox (because gold bars are heavy, right?) out into an open area. I popped a paper clip off my keychain, crammed it in the lock and started twisting. I had no idea what I expected to accomplish, other than mangling the paper clip. But still, I twisted away.

To my absolute shock, and amazement, after 30 seconds, the lock appeared to turn. After a few more moments, the lock popped open. Holy. Smokes. I did it!! I had defeated the ancient and solid looking lock!

I opened up the lid of the toolbox, and Oh well, there were no gold bars to be found.

I have no illusion about what went on here. Obviously the lock had corroded internally and mechanism was no longer working. I was lucky that all that was needed was a bit of brute force to open the lock. Still, I'll chalk this up as a win, if only for trying something creative.

In the end, Grandpa ended up giving me something better than gold bars. He gave me a puzzle, a chance to prove that I could work a seemingly impossible problem, and an opportunity to save the day using a paper clip. Best of all, he gave me a story. (One I plan to enhance over time just like he would!)


  1. My father passed away a few years ago. I expected the sadness, loss, poignancy, and even the happy memories, but one thing that I never expected was the same thing you are discovering about your grandfather: discovering that my father laid the groundwork during his life to keep on teaching me after he was gone.