Open That Safe

Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS
Sun, Jan 31, 2010

TNT, nitroglycerin, safe crackers, MYTHBUSTERS…

Safe work is very challenging for those of us who earn our livelihoods working on safes. For many folks, safes are a mystery and exciting for people to fantasize about what is required to open a safe that is locked. While I prefer not to use the term “crack” when speaking about safes, there will always be someone out there who jokingly refers to a safe technician as a safe cracker, so I hope this article will help you open your safe.

I feel the most valuable skill that any safe tech can possess is the ability to dial properly and diagnose what is happening when the safe is dialed. The most accomplished, most sought after safe techs are at least capable of safe lock manipulation and will always dial it first, so to speak, instead of claiming within seconds of seeing your safe that it must be drilled. Therefore, the best advice I can give you in opening your safe is to dial properly.

When you dial properly you should be able to open a working safe lock when the combination is known. If you know the combination and it just will not open for you, make absolutely sure you are using the correct dialing procedure for your safe. Don’t assume anything! I have opened more than one safe for a customer simply by dialing opposite to what they thought was the proper sequence. In many cases, when you know the correct procedure and the known combination is not working, you can carefully dial to the left of, or right of each number in the combination. Write down what you are doing as you do it, to reduce the probability of dialing the same numbers again and again. I have opened many safes for customers in this manner simply because they had gotten used to looking at the dial at an angle, so make sure you are looking directly down on the opening index as you dial and not off to one side or the other.

Make sure you don’t have the handle of your safe in other than the completely locked position. You do not want to have any pressure exerted against the bolt of the lock inside the door, and feeling the handle to verify that it is turned away from the opening direction is a good practice. This allows the bolt to withdraw into the safe lock case when the correct combination is dialed, and prevents any pressure that could be exerted against the bolt from keeping the lever in the lock from dropping into the wheel gates. I will try to post more suggestions here, including our new dialing video, in the near future. In the meantime, try to dial it first and be deliberate in your attempts.