The Mysterious Mr. Li
Today, Mr. Li has created an international brand out of his groundbreaking invention and launched an entire line of specialized tools call Lishis. The modern iteration of Lishi tools are available in a stunningly vast number of different variations, each one capable of reading and/or picking a specific variety of locks. To understand how a Lishi works you need to first understand how a lock is picked. By exploiting the natural tolerances of the lock cylinder, a locksmith can apply rotational pressure causing the locks wafers or pins to become caught in the shear line.
The shear line is the line between the lock cylinder and lock housing. As one pin or wafer becomes caught by the shear line, sequentially, so will another and another and another, until every pin or wafer is caught, and the lock rotates. Now, generally this is where the job ends, the lock is picked but, Mr. Li took this one step further. Once the lock is rotated the wafers or pins become trapped against the lock housing, aligning them all at their topmost point against the shear line. Because each pin or wafer has a different height and are now all even at the shear line with the cylinder rotated Mr. Li figured out how to measure the minute differences between these heights. By using these measurements, he created an all in one lockpick that entirely changed how locksmiths work.
Every automotive lock has what is known as a code. A code is a series of letters and/or numbers that will refer to the actual physical cuts of the key. For example, a Chrysler code maybe be something like M028, while this sequence of letters and numbers does not actual dictate the cuts, what it does allow the uses of reference material or software to translate M028 into the actual cuts of the key. With the advent of Lishis locksmiths can pick a lock, read the depths of each wafer or pin, and then feed each depth into a computer program.
This computer program gives us the ability to cross reference the depths we are feeling with the Lishi with known manufacture code combinations. Essentially the Lishi family of tools allows locksmiths to generate a key extremely efficiently in an extremely reduced amount of time. While the old school techniques of impressioning or completely disassembling a lock do have their place, Lishis have become a critical tool in the world of a modern locksmith.