Introduction: Folding Key Chain

Picture of Folding Key Chain

I was browsing around on instructable's and came across reconscious Friendly Folding Keychain and liked what he had done and wanted to make my own version with the keys I had but slightly modified it so I could use it with my carabiner that I have to keep them on a belt loop.

Step 1: The Keys Housing and Other Materials

Picture of The Keys Housing and Other Materials
Some of the Instructable's I had seen were using a bike tool for the keys.  I was able to find a cheaper version at harbor freight for around $5 that was for hex keys.  it was easy to dissemble and had plenty of spare parts to use as well.  You will need some additional pieces of hardware to:
  • Washers (some that will fit around the shaft of the housing)
  • rubber grommets (same inside diameter as the washers above)
We will cut the grommets in half and use them as a buffering and tension pad against the housing when we are putting it together

Step 2: The Keys

Picture of The Keys

First thing to do is decide on what keys you are going to be putting into the folding key chain.  I am using three house keys and two car keys on mine.  As you can see I went and got copies of all of the keys before hand, I did not want to take a chance of messing up the origionals in case i needed them in the future.  You may see the last key as familiar if you have seen any of my other instructable's.  It was an RFID key I had to make a (cheap) copy of without the RFID chip just to unlocked the doors, you can see the instructable here:

Step 3: Modifying Them

Picture of Modifying Them
What we want to do is cut the keys so they fit in the housing without any bulk on them.  For this we will need:
  • A Bench grinder
  • A Dremel tool with cut-off disk
  • Some small Files
  • A drill bit  (I used a 1/4" bit)
  • a de-burring brush
  1. Drill a hole into the key where I wanted the shaft of the housing to pass through.
  2. Trim the sides of the key down with the Dremel using a cut-off disk.
  3. Round the edges with the grinding wheel.
  4. Then de-burr the key so it has no sharp edges when we have cut and ground it down.
Wash, rinse, and repeat for the remaining keys

Step 4: Making a Key Ring for It.

Picture of Making a Key Ring for It.
Remember the metal piece I mentioned we would elaborate on further in step three.  Here is how it is made.  Originally it was a leftover piece of metal from some other project with a 90º bend in it and a screw in one side of it. 
  1. Take the bend out by removing the screw and stretching it into a semi-flat strip.
  2. Then I placed it on one end of my sledge hammer and pounded it flat with a regular claw hammer.
  3. After it was flattened I rounded the corners smooth with the grinding wheel.
  4. Then drilled a 1/4" hole in one end and de-burred the whole thing.
Now we have a place to add a key ring to it to add additional things.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

Now we just need to make everything fit together.  There were 3 different sizes of plastic washers that came with the hex key set: I will list them as the following:  #2 is the thickest washer it should have come with 2 of them, #1 there is one of them and it is 1/2 the thickness of a #2, and #0 there should be 8 of them (they are very thin). I tried to put a plastic washer between all of the metal parts to reduce friction and fatigue on the adjacent keys. The exploded view is stacked as follows going from top then-left-to-right:

Shaft screw, housing piece, #2, #0,#0,#0, H KEY, #0, Washer, Key Ring, #0, H KEY, #0, H KEY, #0, rubber grommet 1/2, Housing piece, end screw.

Shaft screw, housing piece, #1, C KEY, #2, Washer, C KEY, #0, rubber grommet 1/2, Washer, Washer, rubber grommet 1/2, Housing piece, end screw.

The reason it is in the order it is, is because we need the keys to slid between each other when we fold everything together.  This is the order I came up with to have everything mesh nicely.

And you are done.  This works well for elderly people who need some extra strength when using keys, just make sure you do not turn it too hard or the key could break in the lock, they are not fun to remove when broken.


Watch me make (author)2015-12-15

What is the little screwdriver looking thing called and where did you get it

bigdaddycole made it! (author)2015-08-25

I really liked this version of the key organizer, and I live near a harbor freight, but sadly I didn't have the instructable handy when i made mine, so i spent about an hour flipping keys back and forth and adjustng the key order from left to right. Thanks for the inspiration!

MohamedD2 made it! (author)2015-05-11

Inspired by you, as I read ur post yesterday at 6pm , went shopping, bought this cheap multi tool like 8$, by 2am I ended up with this :D

AllenE (author)2015-02-12

what is the thing called that is on the blue key holder linked to the carabiner the little silver thing with the key ring in it

tunney5986 (author)2014-02-18

If james bond had a set of key... Did you have any issues with SC1 key? I did and my hardware store didnt have green (Drats!). I found this KeySmart for $15 and does the job great if your looking for color options

soul_eater (author)2011-08-08

It looks cool its like McGiver keys

Chipperton (author)soul_eater2011-08-11

Agreed although its Macgyver and i was gonna say a dollar to the first person to give me MacGyver's first name but then i thought of how google will make that unfair. Its Angus

wazalac18 (author)Chipperton2013-07-06

so it's Angus!!!
i thought it's Menimis?
was wondering, had he introduced himself like " Menimis McGyver." (then extend the right hand)

fezick (author)Chipperton2011-08-11

I watched the Episode where they reveal that just a few days ago. I have the whole series on my hard drive. He was my HERO growing up.

jdougherty2 (author)Chipperton2011-08-11

I knew it was Angus without the help of Google. :) I just remembered the MacGyver Mythbuster's episode.

wazalac18 (author)2013-07-05

nice instructable, i told myself that i'll make one for me so here's at my pocket knife version
sorry i can't seem to (add images) upload my pics here, that's why links were provided instead.

mariodab (author)2011-09-17

I followed this instructable and made one of these with the same tool you used but the screws seem to work their way apart. Did you have this same issue? I know I could use locktite to keep them from separating, but then I would have to start from scratch if I had to change my keys out at some point. Any suggestions? Great ible by the way.

carlfreeland (author)mariodab2012-08-29

Use Loctite blue. I don't have enough experience to be authoritative, but Threadlocker Blue 242 is supposed to be removable with handtools, while the Threadlocker Red 271 is the LOCK FOREVAR version that requires tools and blowtorches to remove.

elco_chan (author)mariodab2011-10-26

I have never really had a issue with then comming loose. instead of using locktite you might be able to try using some pipe tape on the threading to see if it will keep it together.

ozwingchun (author)2011-08-08

nice idea. i think one of those with a bump key added to it would be even better

Dizzy49 (author)ozwingchun2011-08-11

Until you go through a security check and they recognize the bump key for what it is... Then you might have some 'splainin to do.

sanmarr (author)Dizzy492012-05-18

I made one of these a few years back out of an allen or torx tool or something I bought at Kragen. I definitely had to expose all of the "blades" when I went through the security checkpoint at Oakland International Airport, but after about three people looked at it, the last one deemed it "neat," handed it back to me, and let me on my way.

tbt10f (author)ozwingchun2011-08-11

I don't think this would work well with a bump key.

bricobart (author)2012-03-04

Very nice project, I made one too!

synicasm (author)2011-08-11

Hey What is that Cylindrical Shaped thing on the key chain ?

medionlvr (author)synicasm2011-08-11

that's a pill bottle. you can find them at walmart

Johenix (author)medionlvr2011-11-28

Or at Walgreens. Probably at any chain Pharmacy. I use one to hold minature strike anywhere matches.

bennettcrew (author)medionlvr2011-09-09

If someone has a better pill bottle... PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I have to carry certain ones on my person, at all times, and I hate these plastic types. I had one for a couple of years, but now all I can find is these chrome plated ones! Bah humbug!!
I did see a thing where someone used a pop bottle neck (with lid), dropped in a US nickel, and hot glued the insides... it wouldn't be quite big enough, I don't think... and I don't think the police would believe that I carry that everyday for actual medications. You have to maintain a look of seriousness about pills, around here!

I'm thrilled with this key instructable! My VW key isn't really a key, it's a square block that pokes in the hole... so it won't go on mine... but I'm going to attempt a couple of screwdrivers, and maybe a blade or scissors. It'll be a multi-tool, somehow! Thanks for the many great ideas!

Ballesss (author)2011-11-12

Es buenísimo, yo hice el mío y es lo más cómodo que hay.
La herramienta la compré en El Corte Inglés.

aklesh3 (author)2011-10-22

Do you really need the spacers?

elco_chan (author)aklesh32011-10-26

I used the spacers because the screws I used were at a certain length and I wanted more friction on the keys to keep them from folding out when I did not need them.

fsped09 (author)2011-08-31

This was an easy and fun project to do. I used some of the rubber rings, that were used as spacers to identify the keys I need to get into my apartment. I filed slightly on the top and bottom of the keys to hold the ring in place. Thanks!

elco_chan (author)fsped092011-09-09

Awesome Job!!!

chaitanyak (author)fsped092011-09-04

wow nice!

verdastel (author)fsped092011-09-04


fraclet (author)2011-08-13

Very good idea. See my steampunk Folding key Chain :)

verdastel (author)fraclet2011-09-04

hey fraclet that's a cool stuff you made there, what if you make instructable on that?

chaitanyak (author)verdastel2011-09-04

yes! i like that clip-on thing.. need to find one myself now..

chaitanyak (author)2011-08-18

thanks for the great DIY, i didn't have one of these multi tools to work with, so just built it from scratch at a friend's workshop :) made it with some aluminum.. learnt how to tap threads for the center hollow rods.. so the screws can fit..
overall turned out to be a fun project

verdastel (author)chaitanyak2011-09-04

nice and neat job!

elco_chan (author)chaitanyak2011-08-22

That looks awesome!!!  What are the other keys for the look almost like a newer version of skeleton keys?

chaitanyak (author)elco_chan2011-08-22

He he those are just old style padlocks that i still use for my garage doors and a grsliding grill. I guess they look pretty vintage.. But their quite common here

pakalolo666 (author)2011-08-12

I'm a Building Tech (custodian) @ a Highschool in CO. I absolutly hate hearing my keys jingle while walking around. I love this "destructable"!!! Went to Harbor Freight this morning. Absolutly had to make one of these! Tweeked it a little bit to hold the amount of key I carry. Thank you!!!

elco_chan (author)pakalolo6662011-08-17

Would love to see a picture of it. Post pics when you are done. : )

elco_chan (author)pakalolo6662011-08-17

If you needed room to fit more keys on it, I know Lowes does sell the internal hex bolts (the bigger bolts and shafts you remove to take everything apart) in different lengths that will work for this project as well if you needed to hold more keys. They are located in their specialty parts drawers in in the nuts and bolts isle.

graywoulf (author)2011-08-12

Looks like a grand idea but how do you then know which key fits what? I can only ID my keys for the most part by the tops of them. Of course I can easily tell a car key from a house key but if you have a lot of different house keys and they all for the most part look alike, well I think you see where I am going with this. However, I still think this is a grand idea!

DavidKaine (author)graywoulf2011-08-13

I would probably be able to remember which key is in which position, or your could take a permanent marker or paint and color the underside of the keys, though that would wear off. I've been wanting to make one of these for years, but I hesitate to because it looks like the handle gives a lot more leverage to the key, and I'm concerned I might break a key off in the lock, or wear it out too fast.

I wonder if the author has had any problems along this line.

elco_chan (author)DavidKaine2011-08-17

As for the worry of keys breaking I have found that the rubber grommets I added on actually keep me from applying to much pressure when turning it so it has a little give to it and does not apply as much torque when turning. Other then that I have not had any issues with it.

smcgrath (author)DavidKaine2011-08-14

To get around this problem, you might consider coloring the "heads" of the keys, BOTH SIDES of course, with a bright/bold permanent marker and then apply 3-4 THIN COATS of nail polish. Thin will work best because it will be less likely to chip off over time. And with as little as you would need, you might want to invest in one of the better brands thru a beauty supply house like Sally, as they too will tend to last longer. Now if you want to go all out, or are a female, just do the same to each key but using different colors of nail polish. Doing both sides of the key and the "head" only, makes it so much simpler to find whatever key you are searching for no matter what side you look at it from. I would still recommend covering the colors of polish with a few thin clear coats to enhance durability. Be sure to make certain the coats are completely dry before applying the next one or it may end up too thick/gummy, therefore more easily worn away.

ianswope (author)2011-08-11

Great idea, a real space saver.

Just a word of caution. some new car keys have an RFID tag in the key head. cutting off the head of one of these keys could be a costly mistake.

elco_chan (author)ianswope2011-08-17

My wife's car keys has a RFID tag in it, the one I made a copy of is just a door key so I can unlock her car if she ever locks them inside. It won't start the car sadly enough.

rbbiggs (author)ianswope2011-08-11

Good point. My wife's 2011 Honda Pilot that has a normal looking key, but has the RFID tag in the rubberized head. The dealer warned us it was over $200.00 to replace.

Dizzy49 (author)ianswope2011-08-11

Very true. I would not use it for car keys. I think most mid-price cars from 2009+ have chips in them now. The key for my car (2006) has it in the 'neck' of the key, right below the head. However, my wife's car (2007) has it in the head of the key so you can't see it. Makes more sense for obvious security reasons.

KGood (author)2011-08-11

Any problem with using the car key due to the extra weight or reduced flexibility (as opposed to having nothing attached to the key ring except for another key or something)?

elco_chan (author)KGood2011-08-17

Believe it or not having the folding hex key is lighter then the key ring originally was

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