A note from Zeefeene: This article was kindly written by The Rickest Rick, from the toool.uk discord server. There are more parts to come, but the first part will be published here today. If you’re interested in writing an article for toool.uk, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
My Picking Journey – From Injury to YouTube (Part 1)
Allow me to introduce myself, so it’s not just a random person jabbering on. My name is Rick, discord knows me as Rickest Rick, other places (including YouTube) I’m known as Pickin’ Rick. I bought my first proper pick set (Sparrows “Wizwazzle” kit) in September 2020, and have been steadily building up my kit and lock collection ever since.
I started out with just a few padlocks, and a cutaway euro cylinder that I was picking in hand, but very quickly bought a cheap vice so my hands were free for tensioning and picking. However, it was also around this time my back went from (almost) no issues to quickly and steadily aching more and more, following on with starting to cause pains in my leg depending on how I moved. Due to the lockdown at that time, I wasn’t able to get an MRI to diagnose my problem – Herniated discs which caused pressure on the sciatic nerve, which I found out the following March.
As you can imagine, this made sitting straight up, or leaning over, for prolonged periods of time quite challenging and sometimes completely unmanageable. I was forced to find a workaround to continue a hobby I was quickly loving more and more. Whilst I had been building up my kit, I acquired plastic locking containers of various shapes and sizes which formed a big part of my solution.
Here is how my original set up looked. Granted it isn’t the most ergonomic or even comfortable to the healthiest back, but I don’t have space for a kitchen table or a desk, so I made the best out of what I had. I could stay on the sofa or chair, and lean over to the lock, or I could place a cushion on the floor if I needed the lock closer to eye level. As you can imagine, this started hurting more and more, so I made a massive (and very well needed) change.
Here is how my table setup looks nowadays. Using a couple of my storage boxes, I raised the vice up much higher, so I wouldn’t have to lean over anymore, and can see what I’m doing a lot easier too. This also translated to when gutting locks too – I didn’t need to lift the lock up to see pins better, so if a pin tries to escape there’s a much better chance that the pin will be trapped by the towel. I was able to spend more time picking locks again, but this still didn’t help me when I was having a particularly painful day. Inspiration strikes again.
These are the 2 boxes I have underneath the towel. The bottom box is a box for lesser used tools, empty cases from picking tools, and a secure housing for my pin box. It is not feather light, but it light enough that I don’t struggle to lift it or hold it for a prolonged period of time. It has locking handles too, so if I happen to drop it from a sudden physical reaction to a pain flare up, everything inside stays safe and secure.
The box on the top contains various keys, empty euro and rim cylinders, and heat shrink for pick handles. This box also has a little bit of weight inside it, but not enough to cause, or contribute to, a problem. This box also has an added bonus. Did you happen to notice how the lid of the bottom box is recessed, with further trenches recessed into it?
Well, the top box is only very slightly bigger than the size of the recess, so I can seat the top box on the lid, giving me a flat top to work upon, preventing the vice from being unstable, and allowing me to change the position and orientation of the vice. The towel over the top adds grip, whilst making retrieving pins & springs much easier.
Thanks to the footprint size of the bottom box, and the almost ideal weight of the boxes combined, I realised I was able to place the boxes either directly onto my thighs or on top of a small cushion, and the weight would help keep the boxes upright so I can focus on my picking.
So, this meant on my worst days, I could actually keep picking, whilst sitting back in a much more comfortable position. If I need the vice slightly higher, I could add another cushion underneath or find something additional to place under the vice, and if I needed the vice lower, I could remove the top box, but I would just have to be mindful of the position of my vice when I move it around. The bonus of being on the sofa meant I could still keep my pick wrap within reach if I required a different pick, as well.
Of course, there are days when none of these options help, and I just have to admit defeat and take a day off, but with these 2 boxes I have been able to keep myself picking much more than I would have been otherwise. I also made a removable shelf I could use across the bath when I needed to soak for a while to try and alleviate nerve irritation, but sadly it had to be repurposed and I don’t have any pictures of it.
But, my biggest piece of advice to help myself, more than altering setup or adjusting seating positions, is “Know when to rest.” We all wish to get better, and push ourselves to pick harder locks, but being in pain (especially back and/or sciatic pain) will not only make the journey less enjoyable and more frustrating, but your brain will struggle to stay focused and either miss vital feedback or cause you to start picking rougher and making many more mistakes.
I shall end my post here for now, but there will be a part 2 in the coming days about how I came to setting up my YouTube channel, and how the solutions discussed helped me be able to record videos much easier than I would have without them. I hope that if you, or another picker you know, has back problems, you press your doctor to get results as to the cause (as they can be varied in severity) and I also hope my solutions help you being able to pick for longer before stopping is required.
Thank you for reading my ramblings, and I hope to see you in the second part 😊