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A passionate pastime to lifelong career

This month I had the pleasure of speaking to Samuel Baxter. A 20-year-old master lockpicker, industry enthusiast and part time YouTuber, and an integral member of Peterborough’s Benn Lock & Safe Ltd.

When I spoke to Samuel, it was hard to believe I was speaking to a man of twenty. His sharpness, sincerity, and genuine passion for locksmithing shone through from the first moment. It was a genuine pleasure to speak to him and I hope you all enjoy his story.

Turning a hobby into a career

“Where do I begin, I’ve just always been obsessed with locks. I believe I was seven years old when I discovered my first lock – and to be honest, I’ve never looked back. I taught myself to pick with a straightened paper-clip and electrical screwdriver for a tension wrench. “My love of locks started as a hobby, and it quite quickly became an obsession of mine – at the moment, I have over 2,000 locks and I have picked them all. It’s quite a collection. I think this may stem from my proclivity for detail and wanting to understand how things work; this persuasion goes hand-in-hand with my autism, but I have spent so much time honing my craft, building my knowledge and skills that I daresay I can rival someone twice my age. This is by no means boasting, I have just worked very hard and put so much time and effort in to understanding how thousands of different cylinders work, I just get a real rush from it and continue to be excited by it every day.”

It’s good to help people

“I’m working at Benn Lock & Safe in Peterborough. We are a commercial locksmithing business, MLA members and we work for a varied clientele. It’s a funny story, how I came to be an employee here. One day I called in and asked – so specifically – for what I was after. The guy’s jaw just dropped, and he virtually offered me a job on the spot! I didn’t quite know what to say. I spoke with the owners of the business and all was agreed. I should start after my college course ended. Now after working my way through my probation period, I’m proud to say I’ve been there for two years.

I work on the trade counter, deal with customers, cut keys and pin master key suites amongst other things – shop related.

“It’s been great building my security knowledge and I want to thank Lee Palmer, a great locksmith and my line manager at Benn Lock & Safe. His product knowledge is outstanding so it’s good to be learning from him every day. I’d also say that the rest of the team at the business have really helped me develop my customer service skills and ability to speak to and serve people in the shop.

“This experience has encouraged me to train others in our small team even though they are all quite a bit older than me.

“I’m a keen YouTuber, I’ve posted over 81 picking videos under locksport heading. It’s a great way to meet other people and to receive their gratitude in the form of older locks that I haven’t seen before. It’s such a nice way for them to say thank you and from my perspective, I like to help people – money doesn’t necessarily get you friends.” It’s been a good experience – I’d say 99.9% of the people I ’meet’ on YouTube are amazing, they’re fascinated with locks like I am, and I’ve encountered some really interesting enthusiasts.

I’ve made a catalogue all the locks I’ve picked, and I like to demonstrate the skills it requires to pick a lock successfully. It’s not something everyone can replicate. Not everyone can just go away and do it, it takes time to learn. They have to hone the craft – not everyone has the patience or aptitude.

“And that sums it up for me. Locksmithing is a skill, it requires dedication and a lot of experience. I think there is a reason not everyone can just pick locks, and we wouldn’t want anyone and anybody to do it. This is really important for me, the security element of it.

“Sadly, I meet customers in the shop all the time that are making reactive purchases – closing the door after the horse has bolted. When possible I try to persuade them to have a better locks fitted and be proactive with their security measures.

Looking forward

“I first fell in love with locks when I was in school, and my mission remains the same, to collect every single sash lock. I also have a bucket list of hundreds of other locks I want to pick. I recently spent 14 hours figuring out how to pick a certain lock I hadn’t encountered before – this learning phase is really important!

“I hope that my skills continue to develop, as one day, I want to design my own locks – I really know what makes them pick resistant and what doesn’t. I realise that this dream will be difficult and a lot of hard work – but I’m yet to encounter anybody, or hear of anybody, that hasn’t achieved what they want if they have the right dedication and work ethic.”