Introduction: DIY Audio Jack Key Holder

Picture of DIY Audio Jack Key Holder

The first thing I say in the morning after "Coffee's ready!" is "Where'd my keys go?" - it's almost a ritual at this point, but at my expense! Key dishes are fine but my foyer isn't really set up for a table, so an on-the-wall key holder is the way to go!

Many of our projects are audio-based, so it seemed fitting to create a key holder out of audio jacks, and it looks good too!

Items needed:

  • Project chassis - I had a bunch I could choose from and decided to go with one that would look good mounted on the wall. Also make sure the chassis is deep enough to account for the jacks. If you don't, you may need to adjust the jacks.
  • 3 female 1/4" audio jacks
  • 3 male 1/4" audio jacks
  • 2-4 Screws/Screwdriver (for mounting to wall)
  • Drill press w/appropriate drill bits
  • Cutting oil (or really, any other kind of oil)

For adjustments/best practice, you may also need:

  • Hammer + nail/screw
  • Nibbers
  • Angle Grinder

Step 1: Mark the Locations for Your Audio Jacks

Picture of Mark the Locations for Your Audio Jacks
  • Figure out which chassis face you want to see and which one you want to the wall
  • Measure out where the center is and make a small mark.
  • Decide on how far apart you want the audio jacks to be. Halve that distance, and put a mark to the left and right of the center hole.
  • Measure out where the remaining 2 jacks go and mark those as well!

Step 2: Drill the Holes for Your Audio Jacks

Picture of Drill the Holes for Your Audio Jacks
  • Using a hammer and nail/screw, a good practice is to tap a small divot in so that your drill bits have a place to start at. This also lowers the risk of a scratch from a drill bit sliding around.
  • Since this box is metal, when using a drill press, you want to go from a smaller drill bit and work up to the drill bit size that will allow the jack to go through (the mounting screw portion)
  • You may want to use cutting oil to help prevent your drill bit from overheating. Just put a dab where you want to start drilling and clean after use.
    • I don't have cutting oil at home but I did have some wood wax w/oil, so I used that!
  • Be sure to clean the box after you've drilled the holes!

Step 3: Adjust Your Audio Jacks If Necessary

Picture of Adjust Your Audio Jacks If Necessary

In the first step, I suggested finding a chassis that was deep enough to accomodate the audio jacks. I didn't take my own advice! Fortunately, I was able to modify the jacks enough so that they fit. If you need to as well, these are the easiest areas to adjust:

  • Using nibbers, get rid of the audio jack solder leads
  • Using a grinder, get rid of some of the mounting screw threads. Please be careful to not take too much off! You still need the mounting thread to be able to go through the chassis!

Step 4: Mount the Audio Jacks In!

Picture of Mount the Audio Jacks In!

Mount the 3 female audio jacks in! Fortunately, since this is a key holder, you don't need to know which lead on the back goes to tip, ring or shield!

Step 5: Attach a Keychain to a Male Audio Jack

Picture of Attach a Keychain to a Male Audio Jack

Using your drill press, drill a small hole through the audio jack large enough for the keyring you have to fit through.

Thread a keyring through the holes and attach the keyring to your keychain! This may require some searching around the house for old keychains.

Step 6: Install the Keyholder to the Wall!

Picture of Install the Keyholder to the Wall!

Using a screwdriver and screws, install this on your wall! This may require making a couple of pilot holes if you're going through metal.

Step 7: Voila!

Picture of Voila!

And now, you won't ever lose your keys again! (Just make sure to use it!)


RikardK made it! (author)2015-09-04

Thank you for the inspiration to make a practical "key holder" :-)

I did however make some radical changes regarding the design ;-)

Tymkrs (author)RikardK2015-09-04

AWESOME! It looks great!!

RikardK (author)Tymkrs2015-09-04

Thank you :-)

powellar (author)2015-09-01

This is an awesome idea. What did you use for your chassis, it looks very familiar. Otherwise what would recommend to use or where to find something that size. I have looked online, but yours looks way nicer than anything I could find

Tymkrs (author)powellar2015-09-01

I think it was some sort of network router actually lol. I just took out the insides and took off the sticker label :p Or maybe some sort of audio passthrough of some sort.

glaese (author)2015-08-31

This is nice. We came up with a different flavored way to manage our keys.

Dry erase white-boards are metallic and like magnets.

Magnets from old hard-drives or rare earth magents are very magnetic

The ring in keyrings are iron based and love to hang on the dry erase board on the wall by door :-)

I put 10 of the really thin hard-drive magnets on ours. It works great. Hold things like flyswatters, too.

The only thing I have thought from time to time is that it would look a tad better if I would take the time to paint the magnets white to match the board.

Tymkrs (author)glaese2015-08-31

Thanks! It's true, if I had a white board by my front door (a good organization idea), I would probably do something like that too :)

glaese (author)Tymkrs2015-08-31

True. It might not look nice in a public area. We have it in the back hall by the garage door. Right on the way in and out.

kooth (author)2015-08-31

Very clever! As a musician, I really dig this idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

Tymkrs (author)kooth2015-08-31

You're welcome! Glad you like it :)

BartholomewH (author)2015-08-23

my bf is a DJ, I bet he's gonna love this!

You can call him DJ door keys now

Tymkrs (author)BartholomewH2015-08-27

Awesome :D It's super easy to make too!

cammers (author)2015-08-22

A great idea and a very nice Instructable. Well done.

Tymkrs (author)cammers2015-08-22

Thank you! Glad you liked it!

jeanniel1 (author)2015-08-17

What a stylish way to hang keys - and be incentive to hang them the same place with the fun click of the audio jacks! Great idea and execution.

Tymkrs (author)jeanniel12015-08-18

Thank you!

BobZ3 (author)2015-08-11

Great idea. I need something like this. It occurred to me that it would be easy to put color LEDs in the end of the male plug, which are turned on by a battery in the wall box. A supercap would also be a great choice. Color coded keys would make selection of the right key or key set easy, and also make it easy to see at a glance, even in darkness, which keys are on the holder.

billgeo (author)BobZ32015-08-16

What a great idea, on top of a great idea!

Also, add a battery, a small buzzer and a magnetic door sensor

and you got your self a 'don't-forget-your-keys' alarm

Tymkrs (author)BobZ32015-08-11

Sounds like I need to explore some ways to include electronics into the key holder :) A lot of folks are suggesting cool ideas for how to distinguish between different keys!

Eyad_moh (author)2015-08-15

I think that if Jack used the smaller will be the most beautiful

Tymkrs (author)Eyad_moh2015-08-15

You could use 1/8 jacks if you wanted to certainly - I think at that point it would depend on how heavy your keychain was! But that's a great idea for having a super small footprint!

ToolHoard (author)2015-08-12

As a musician, this 'ible left me with the biggest grin on my face and the start of a shopping list for parts B-) Really like the face/wall-mounted look, but as a previous commenter mentioned, the concept of a recessed jack plate is likely how I'll approach this 1/4 jack key holder project, like the ones I have mounted into/between the walls connecting several XLR and TRS jacks between the live room and control room of my humble home studio. Also considering the suggestion of different colored LED's mounted into the ends of the male jacks with a power system in the jack plate so that they light up when plugged in. So many possibilities, all for a key holder! Haha Thanks so much for your wonderfully written/photographed Instructable, and to all the great comments and suggestions contributed by others. Cheers.

Tymkrs (author)ToolHoard2015-08-12

Yeah recessing it was definitely a great idea :) has some super cheap jacks (male and female), and glad you're inspired!

nwonharp (author)2015-08-12

Good idea ! You could even us it as part of a simple alarm system . Using timers to give you time to enter or exit the door before the alarm goes off , it could bypass the door switch .or whatever . When you get home , you plug your key ring in to " reset " the alarm . A burglar , unless he knew exactly how the system works , wouldn't be able to defeat it , and chances are good that he wouldn't just happen to have a correctly wired 1/4" TRS plug in his pocket ! You could take it a step further , and have a particular device in the plug ( a resistor , diode , transistor etc ) that would be needed for the " reset " circuit to work . Then when you leave , just unplug your car keys and go ! It would all be automatic !

Cheers , take care , and have a good day ! 73

Tymkrs (author)nwonharp2015-08-12

Nice idea! And yay for fellow hams!

nwonharp (author)Tymkrs2015-08-12

Tx for the reply ! My wife always accuses me of having a too active imagination , Oh well .....
Cheers , take care , and have a good day ! and ,oh yeah 73

kevshouse (author)2015-08-11

There are quite a few commercial key safes that lock a jack like device into the socket, requiring an access code or card swipe before a key jack can be removed. Someone may want to extend this instructable to add access control; each jack having an internal circuit that gives each one a unique identifier so that individuals can only remove those keys they are allowed to access.

Tymkrs (author)kevshouse2015-08-11

I can certainly try once my schedule opens up, it may require a larger box however!

bethmwl (author)2015-08-11

How unique. I wonder what else can be stored in this manner? I'm voting for ya!

Tymkrs (author)bethmwl2015-08-11

Thanks :D

MiikePage (author)2015-08-11

Much better than the 'Jack Rack' kickstarter I saw at the beginning of last year. Still cannot believe that it raised over $10k to build the project. It shouldn't cost more than a few quid!

Tymkrs (author)MiikePage2015-08-11

Yeah I think it cost me...less than 4-5 dollars? I think one of their key rings go for 8 dollars?

acoleman3 (author)Tymkrs2015-08-11

yours may be a bit more spartan, but i find the cleaner lines and simpler design to be nicer looking and a lot less ostentatious. congrats!

Tymkrs (author)acoleman32015-08-11

Thank you! I was surprised to find out that their designs are also just stickers

Wingloader (author)2015-08-11

OMG. That is so cool!

I wish I could come up with stuff like this!!!

Tymkrs (author)Wingloader2015-08-11

Thanks! You totally can!!

Lindie (author)2015-08-11

Nice project!

Tymkrs (author)Lindie2015-08-11

Thank you!

mazzmn (author)2015-08-10

Love this alot! I could have one at work and one at home....wonder if anyone...say a parent of a teenager would want an alarm / tweet to go off when one of the sets of keys is removed lol!

Tymkrs (author)mazzmn2015-08-10

Thanks! Haha, you could probably do it so that when a particular switch is on, it causes it to go into "alarm mode" and so that whenever a jack is taken out, it alarms.

Carleyy (author)2015-08-10

Cool repurpose project!

Tymkrs (author)Carleyy2015-08-10

Thanks! Glad you like it :D

mateoj517 (author)2015-08-09

I really like your instructable for the fact, I alway have issues with keys. I added magnets to out key chains. A metal wall plate painted the color of the wall hides it and it works well.
I think it would be cool if it was flush with the wall using a audio wall connection box or even mount the female terminals to a plate and cut out the drywall for the room needed. I think the male connect makes a pretty cool key chain regardless. ?

Tymkrs (author)mateoj5172015-08-09

The flush mount/hidden magnets is a clever way to do it! I may have to consider doing it flush mount one day - great idea!

Verticees (author)2015-08-09

Very nice, and the audio jack alone looks like a great keychain!

Tymkrs (author)Verticees2015-08-09

Yes! I was glad it wasn't clunky looking :p

3366carlos (author)2015-08-09


Tymkrs (author)3366carlos2015-08-09


chadmikell (author)2015-08-09

thats good stuff. really good idea.

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Bio: Every week two geeky people in Rochester MN spend every ounce of their freetime creating educational videos, podcasts, articles, and music. They publish it all ... More »
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