PHS locksmith earns scholarship to attend ALOA classes and convention

How do you become a locksmith? I’ve been asked that question thousands of times.

Historically locksmith businesses have been small family businesses. The secrets to open locks without any keys have been guarded and passed only to trusted individuals. Did you know Houdini was a locksmith?

Today’s new locksmiths still learn or apprentice from established locksmiths. Basic training can be found on-line. But the best classes are taught by locksmith association members, distributor and manufacturers’ certified instructors. Locksmiths and apprentices are pre-screened before being allowed to take classes.

Joey, our current apprentice, received a scholarship and is attending classes at the locksmith national convention in Reno, Nevada this week. ALOA, the Associated Locksmiths of America, has grown to include locksmiths in the US and many other countries. Their instructors are some of the best in the world and ALOA's proficiency testing is the standard used by many states when they issue locksmith licenses.

Excellent educational instructors make exceptional locksmiths. Locksmiths who invest in their education will be ready for the changes of the future. They will provide products and services to consumers that comply with the current security standards. 

If you want to learn to be a locksmith or are just curious what’s involved visit

Winter's Frozen Locks Have Arrived

Chicago's under our first Winter Weather Advisory of the year.  Freezing rain.  Falling temperatures. These conditions are perfect for frozen locks.

The simplest solution is always prevention.  Lubricate your outside locks before they freeze.  (Use WD-40, Tri-Flo or another spray recommended for lock lubrication)

If your lock is already frozen, you're not out of luck.

  • You can try a lock de-icer that you can pick up at most locksmith or hardware stores.
  • If that doesn't work, you'll need to warm the lock with a hair dryer.  (Never use a torch, flames, or anything with high heat!  This will damage the lock!)  Make sure to lubricate your locks after you use a de-icer or your locks could be damaged.
  • Or you can call a locksmith. However, if it is a good freeze there may be a waiting line.

You can find more details for preventing your locks from freezing in our original article "Chicago Winter and Frozen Locks".

Before and After: Bringing Basement Door up to Code

This part of our "Before and After" series, showcasing the installations done by our locksmiths.

Problem: Basement wooden doors of a multi-unit building were being forced open. The old locks, nightlatches, gave very little protection against prying or kicking attacks. As a temporary solution, the customer had added hasps and padlocks to the doors. However, Life Safety Fire Codes prohibit the use of hasps and padlocks on any doors in multi-unit buildings.

Our customer wanted a strong but economical solution to increase security on these doors. The new locks needed to work with their existing front door key. Finally, the locks needed to automatically latch when the door closed.

Solution: After evaluating alternate solutions, we decided to use a slightly modified deadbolt lock. Instead of using the bolt, we used a latch made by General Lock Co. This would be installed in the same location on the door as the old lock, latch automatically when the door is closed, and fit the customer's existing front door keys. We also installed a security strike to strengthen the frame and a door wrap to strengthen the door. Finally we added a latch protector, called the Door Guardian that joins the door and frame together upon closing.

Before and After: Basement Door Break-in Repair

This part of our "Before and After" series, showcasing the installations done by our locksmiths.

Problem: Fixing a broken lock on a basement door that was forced open.

The customer did not want to replace the door.

The solution needed to cover the damage, strengthen the door, and improve security.

Solution: We used a 4" brass door wrap by Don Jo under the new lock. Door wraps are designed to both strengthen the door and cover the damage from the break in.

Then we installed a 13" latch protector to cover the damage to the door frame and the pry marks further down on the door.  This particular latch protector is called "The Door Guardian." It's designed for in-swinging doors and consists of two interlocking pieces made of heavy steel. This joins the door and frame so inserting tools to pry open the door is difficult.