I carry a lot of keys and visually identifying them is a necessity for me. I have bought some little sleeves, but they do not always fit good and do not last long. I thought there must be a better way, so I came up with this. I do a lot of my own mechanical and electrical work, so I have several sizes of "Heat Shrink Tubing" (basically used to insulate electrical wires in low voltage DC wiring).

Let's get started............



Buy some"Heat Shrink Tubing" according to the size of the key, I used shrink tubing 5/8" wide when flattened completely to put on keys that are 7/8" wide,meaning I had to stretch the tubing 1/2" (allowing 1/8" x 2 for the thickness of the key)

Wider keys would require wider shrink tube. It's available at most automotive supply stores & electrical supply stores.


1 pair of scissors for cutting and expanding the shrink tubing.

A heat source.........I heated it over the kitchen gas range burner. You could use a propane torch, but it requires very little heat, so a hair drier would also work.

Okay, you got all that? Let's start cutting...........



Here are 3 pieces of 5/8" wide when mashed flat. (not 5/8" diameter)

2nd photo is to show width on rule.

Cut the bands about 3/8" wide See 3rd photo



In this step, we don't heat it to shrink it, we heat it to EXPAND it.

Insert end of scissors.

hold over heat source.......careful........not too hot.

Gently spread the blades of scissors, stretching the tube. Again........be careful and stretch with a very small amount of pressure while you are heating it. You will begin to feel it stretch.

Dip scissor blades and tube into cool water while holding pressure spreading the tube.

Now it should be cool and it should slip onto the key. It will be a little loose if you have succeeded. Apply a little heat to shrink it tightly onto key. At this point, you are finished unless you want to put a small drip of super glue under the sides. It should last for 2 years or more.

Be sure to vote in contest at the top right.

Any comments welcome. Thanks


I had never tried it before this, but I tried heating and stretching using a hair drier instead of heat from gas cook stove and it worked even better. There is less heat, therefore it is easier to control the heat while stretching the tubing. I could have made the black a little narrower, like 3/8" but I was rushed for time. I hope you try it. Be sure to vote on my effort in the upper right of this page. Thanks.

<p>A bit more messing about but you can use Sugaru a mouldable coloured plastic you heat up and press over. It lasts at least 5 years so far but can deform if you leave the keys in the sun Sparkfun.com has it and others</p>
I think not. I found a three color pack of Sugaru on eBay for $22.00. I could have them gold plated for that. The shrink tube cost only a few cents, but I already had it, so it cost nothing. Thanks for replying anyway, tytower.
<p>Yes you are right . Its a cheap way and effective . Here is a product called Polymorph which is melted and a littlr food colouring added then moulded around the key . Does a good job too and 250 grams for $12</p>
<p>Thanks tytower. </p>
<p>And for another cheaper version use polystyrene cups and dissolve them with a little acetone/nail polish remover. They roll into an easily moulded ball and harden rock hard but I have not tried colouring them . I use them to fix holes in tin roofs</p>
<p>I will show this to my hubby he will like it. Thanks for sharing and do have a great day.</p><p>sunshine~</p>
<p>Thanks seamster and ROD917. One thing I didn't mention is that you can use larger tubing than I used. It shrinks down to about 1/2 of what it was before applying heat, so if it will go over the key, you can just shrink it down with heat. This size was the biggest I had when I did it the first time about three years ago. One finally came off of of my truck door key a few days ago. I was completely lost without it when I went to open the truck door. LOL</p>
Great idea. I had been using nail polish but will give this a try. Thanks
<p>This is such a good idea. Perfectly simple, but completely effective. Nice!</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired Firefighter 1966 to 1986; Retired Wheat Farmer 1987 to 2003. Drapery Sales 1969 to 1987. 17 year Quintuple Heart Bypass Surgery Survivor; 14 year ... More »
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