Blind Locksmith A Remarkable Asset to Stanley Security Solutions in Stockholm
Nils-Gunnar Nilsson, 62, is a locksmith for Stanley Security Solutions – a premier, international provider of high quality mechanical access solutions – at the Best Las & Sakerhetssystem AB location in Stockholm, Sweden. He spent the past 40 years mastering the art of manufacturing keys and complex locking systems, deftly configuring cylinders, pins and combinations. What makes this significant is Nisse has accomplished this feat all without the use of his eyesight.
Blind since birth, Nisse developed his locksmithing skills through his intuitive fingertips and keen sense of touch. He began in 1969 at just 20 years old, and has cultivated his expertise over the decades to excel at the demanding precision needed for his craft.
“I have too few visual cells in the eye,” Nisse explained. “It’s like shooting without film in the camera. There is nothing.”
Initially, Nisse studied at the Tomteboda Blind Institute in Stockholm, then enrolled in a local mechanical engineering trade school. During his eight years at the institute, he became acquainted and developed a lasting friendship with renowned Swedish scuba diver and former head of the Swedish Rescue Corps, Sven Nahlin.
A skilled frogman for years, Nahlin developed the theory that since the visually impaired and blind are accustomed to darkness, they may possess a special ability to orient themselves as well as divers in troubled waters, where reduced visibility is common and a challenge. When Nahlin began a diving team with the students at Tomteboda, Nisse was one of the first to join, and he experienced dives all over the world. Much of their expedition centered around searching for discarded weapons and ammunition to assist in police cases.
Though Nisse eventually left the diving team, it was his friendship with Nahlin that led to Nisse’s discovery of his locksmithing talents. Having witnessed Nisse’s highly developed sense of touch on countless dives, Nahlin approached Hasse Jarkell, his friend and owner of a local Stockholm locksmith business, to take Nisse on as his apprentice. Jarkell agreed, and Nisse entered the locksmith trade. “I have not regretted a single day that I took that chance,” Nisse commented.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Nisse worked and trained in Jarkell’s shop, Östermalms Låsservice, copying keys and servicing the customers. The shop’s machines and apparatuses were tagged with Braille, so Nisse was able to learn the nuances of the complex work quickly.
In 1974, Jarkell sold his business to invest in Stanley Security Solutions BEST Access Systems’ Swedish enterprise. Nisse followed his boss to the new operation, and, in 1989, the company was sold to Hasse Edling and Hasse Enhörning.
Today, Edling still acts as principal owner of the firm, and controls the company’s management and product development from Furudal in Dalarna county. The Best Las & Sakerhetssystem AB location where Nisse works is still based in Stockholm, with sales and service departments in Bergdalen in Sundbyberg.
With the assistance of sophisticated computer software that translates directly to and from Braille, including a synthetic speech device that vocalizes the numbers and characters necessary for individual lock configurations, Nisse is able to assemble at least 60-70 locks a day for Best Las & Sakerhetssystem AB customers.
Nisse manually combinates the cores of the locks by “seeing” which of the miniscule pins inside the small-format interchangeable core he is holding through his intuitive fingertips. Then, based on the combination of the core, he can decide where the pins should be placed, either in his mind, or by consulting the Braille display on his work computer. The smallest of these pins with which a locking cylinder can be equipped accommodates for the possibility of up to 78,000 different combinations, making Nisse’s skillful handiwork all the more impressive.