Introduction: Friendly Folding Keychain

Picture of Friendly Folding Keychain

So ever since I can remember I have haaaated carrying keys. They're uncomfortable sitting in your pockets all day, they make it hard to find change when you need it, they scratch up everything around them, be it cell phones, cameras, etc.. and when you really think about it, your standard keychain is really just a terrible design. Why would you subject yourself to that? Well I've decided enough is enough and set out to make what I think is a much more friendly and functional keychain. My criteria for this new design are as follows:

- Compact and foldable
- Comfortable in the pocket
- Easy to distinguish from all other possible pocket contents
- Not rough or abrasive
- Aesthetically pleasing
- No jingling!

Step 1: Crank Brothers M5 Multitool...

Picture of Crank Brothers M5 Multitool...

I found this great little Crank Brothers M5 Tool that was the perfect start. It is designed for cyclists and as such is very lightweight. Not only would it be the perfect housing for my keys, but it also sported a variety of allen wrenches and a philips head screwdriver as well. Sweet! If that wasn't motivation enough, it was cheap at only 12 bucks!

Step 2: Take It All Apart...

Picture of Take It All Apart...

The first real step was to take the M5 apart and see what kind of tolerances I would be working with and how everything was going to fit together. I ended up adding a couple flat washers to make up for the space differences between the allen wrenches I removed and the keys I added.

I was pleased to find that your standard house and car keys are the perfect length to fit snugly inside the folded M5, so you don't have to worry about adjusting the position of the keyholes. The only part of my keys that really required any modification at all were the little square holes. I imagine there are key blanks out there that have a large enough hole to work right out of the box with no modification at all, but alas, I would had to make my square keys fit a round peg.

Step 3: Make Sure the Keys Fit...

Picture of Make Sure the Keys Fit...

Time to grab my trusty metal file and go to work. After I had filed proper size holes into all three keys (2 house keys and one car key) all that was left was to put everything together and admire my work.

Step 4: File Away the Excess Key Bits...

Picture of File Away the Excess Key Bits...

I could have just left it at that but I'm picky and didn't like how much the outside edges of the keys poked out on each side. So, once again, I grabbed my file and went to town re-shaping the exteriors of the key. Normally you would want this wide part on a key to provide proper leverage when turning the lock, but since my keys would be firmly attached to a larger piece this wasn't a concern.

I filed each key down until it had a nice rounded shape. I also opted to file a little corner into each key so that I could easily flip them out with just the tip of my thumb.

Step 5: Ta-Da!

Picture of Ta-Da!

Ta Da! All folded up it measures about 3.5" x 1.25" x .75" For reference, you could fit two of them inside the footprint of a credit card. I wanted mine to be as small as possible, but if you didn't care about a small form factor, or you needed room to accommodate more keys you could always go with the Crank Brothers M-10 which is the same length as the M-5 but twice as fat.


pbman123 (author)2015-04-01

This actually is already s product, look up keybars on google. They are kinda pricey but they are very customizable and come in many different material and colors.

The keybar is 55-100USD, this is under 20. "Kinda pricey" is an understatement.

TysonS (author)2015-04-30

Great idea! Thank you.

rizguevarra made it! (author)2014-10-28

This is such a great Idea that I had to make one myself.. I bought a 7pc craftsman hex set for $3.99 and it was a 2 pack. It's longer than others here because I wanted to fit in my Citibike Card in Blue.. All in all I think I'm happy with it.. I like all the others that posted there folding key. I like how the Citibike Key fits perfect inside when folded.

tunney5986 (author)2014-02-18

Love the addition of the hex set! I'm going to add it to my KeySmart ($15) because they are definitely and everyday used item. Did you have any issues with the tension on them to stay closed?

59er9er (author)2013-03-13

Here's my little spin on this excellent solution by reconscious. I was able to utilize the light that came with the Lezyne Rap 7, though I did cut off 5mm to make the whole thing bit thinner. I followed reconscious idea of having a little tab for my house key which makes pulling it out a one handed affair.

gnargnar (author)2009-02-05

i'd have to see how this looks in the ignition to be really hyped on it. i was excited until i imagined how that would work with a multi-tool hanging off your ignition...

grimdaddy (author)gnargnar2009-02-05

Don't use this idea on a chip key!!! Those little buggers are expensive!! It couldn't look any worse than some of the ridiculously long and over burdened key chains some women,and men, have hanging from the ignition switch. I think this is a demonstration of function over form. If you are worried about the appearance of your car key while it is being used then you obviously wouldn't use this idea.

chrisayad (author)grimdaddy2009-02-07

or if you want everyone to stare at your awesome creation that they wish they had. i think it looks more beautiful than any other keychain i have ever seen.

gnargnar (author)chrisayad2009-02-07

i didn't say for looks, i'm saying i've been in some cars where the keychain would be sticking out sideways into the steering column, and generally just tearing up your dash/not fitting. plus i ride a motorcycle, and i can guarantee there's not enough room for one of these there. sheesh, people think i'm so shallow... ;)

paqrat (author)gnargnar2011-08-17

You could do like I did one time when I needed a copy of a honda key. I got the person copying it to use a regular car key blank (I don't think they had the motocycle key in stock). It would be more than tall enough to use with this keyholder.

chrisayad (author)gnargnar2009-02-07

yeah no ur not shallow but i dont think it should be used for car keys. you shouldnt attach stuff to your car keys

reconscious (author)gnargnar2009-02-09

This is how it looks in my '02 Mazda Protege. After I start the car I fold it upwards so it's out of the way of my knee.

Try explaining that to a cop when you get pulled over.

diegolay (author)reconscious2009-05-16

In that way looks like you have used screwdriver fo the multitool to start the car xD

Well, In my experience,( my father is a mechanic, so i guess it's not really My experience) The main problem is when it hangs down... like when you have a lot of weight from a key chain... it's the downward if you bent it upwards, but it could still mess it up. and that was no cheap fix for my step-mom when she learned the hard way to not have a billion keys on her key chain

mstein3 (author)2011-08-12

how would this work for multilock though?

billgeo (author)2011-08-11


I'm looking for a mini-tool right now on Ebay...

djdole (author)2011-08-08

Any word on the legality of getting these through airport security?
(Ok, we all know it's totally LEGAL since there is no official law on the books against keys, or tools on the plane besides TSA's arbitrary rules they set..... but I'm asking about those arbitrary TSA rules.)

Has anyone yet tried to carry one through security?
(I'd rather not even attempt this if it'll require me to have a second travel-friendly set as well.)

DeeLeRoy (author)djdole2011-08-11

Perfectly legal! I constructed something similar out of a mini leatherman several year back. I travel quite a bit, both the TSA and Federal court security personnel examine it and reply "Cool or Neat." Just make sure you remove any instruments that can be used as a weapon, such as the small knife blade or leather punch.

The TSA actually examines my key-chain more closely than any firearm I ship with me.

djdole (author)DeeLeRoy2011-08-11

Awesome! Thanks for the info.

ThunderSi (author)2011-08-09

I'll be doing this soon. I too have the keys with built in remote, but that's only half the concern. Anyone doing this with relatively new car keys, keep in mind that the keys themselves may include a transponder required to start the car.

I'm thinking of doing this with my 2007 Honda valet key, which doesn't have the remote buttons, but will have to make sure to avoid that transponder.

siafulinux (author)2011-04-04

Excellent idea! Going to be doing this soon. Thanks.

Robot Lover (author)2010-11-02

What about the key fob? Anyways great job!

OlYeller21 (author)2010-03-03

To any of you who have this type of keychain, have you ever had trouble getting through an airport?  I plan on making one but it would be terrible to have my keys taken because some <super nice> TSA <friend> thinks my keys are somehow now a weapon because they have a handle.

SFARRAT (author)2010-02-04

Just finished my mod, with the shorty travel cutter bike multi-tool and here's the result. Pretty easy and the Dremel came in handy!

simonerisaliti (author)2009-10-18

Great idea!!!
Handy and very usefull!

~Sasquatch~ (author)2009-10-17

AWESOME INSTRUCTABLE!! I'll be using this one! KUDOS!

rangeside (author)2009-09-29

though it's been said, many times, many ways...merry Christmas to...wait no, great idea!

555mst555 (author)2009-09-11

how do u remove the round reg?

karmineky (author)2009-02-05

This is a great idea!!! I'd like to make one for my husband, but his car key is a little bit different... Any thoughts on how I would attach a key for a car that has remote locking on the key (i.e. for a Subaru)?

Mrfixit123 (author)karmineky2009-08-16

you've got the key without the key less entry you could try that, but it probably has a chip. You could try attaching the chip to the key in a diffrent place on the key.

fiat22turbo (author)karmineky2009-07-15

perhaps you could adapt a "switchblade" key from a newer vehicle? You'll need to fit the metal key into the unit along with the electronics of the fob. It will still be separate from the big ring, but at least it will be much more tidy.

R4Man18 (author)karmineky2009-02-19

Gods gift to man.. a Carabiner. (i love them so) those are just key less entries with the key built in removing the case can cause the thing to lose power in which case you will have to have the whole thing reprogrammed which involves most of the time having it towed and then programmed. For the car keys I would say stick with leaving it intact but go ahead and do the rest with any other keys he may be using. with a small keyring you can attach the key to the whole setup.

benthekahn (author)karmineky2009-02-10

go to your local hardware/locksmith and get them to make a copy of the key without the chip.

reconscious (author)karmineky2009-02-05

The problem with these keys is they are both too thick and too long for the M5 tool. You could get the larger M10 version to accommodate the fatter keys, but you are still limited by their length. What you might could do is make a copy of the car key on a standard key blank (without the rubber handle) and use that inside the M5. You could then attach the remote by a small keyring. That way you have the best of both worlds! If your remote is built into the key handle (like yours seems to be), and your new key works properly you could just file or saw the key bit off of the original leaving only the remote. It's not the perfect solution, but it should work. Good luck!

nickb800 (author)reconscious2009-02-06

This probably wouldnt work - most modern keys have a chip inside the black plastic/rubber surround which is read wirelessly by the car ignition to deactivate the immobiliser (think of it like a swipe card to get into an office building). With a copied key you will be able to turn the key, however the engine wouldnt start. Love the instructable tho!

checkerboardriot (author)2009-08-05

I added my smart key to mine! I have a 1/8 inch overhang on the smart key but all of the others fit perfect. I used the pittsburgh 7 hex key set in blue from harbor freight ($3.99 on clearance) and a flat and round file set ($2.00 each) also at harbor freight. All in all it cost me under $9.00 to make. The only problem I have is that since the smart key is so thick I could only fit 4 keys so I could not fit tools into the mix (the good news is that I only have 4 keys I regularly use, so I guess things work out). All in all a fun project and thanks for the idea!

travershenry (author)2009-07-12

Awesome Idea! I have one a multi tool similar to that which I carry around in my bag when I go biking. Now I saw this, got rid of all the alen-wrenches that I can't use on my bike and put all the keys I use on it! :D Now I always have my keys in a nice compact form plus bike tools and some screw drivers I use when I'm fixing computers.

skidrain41 (author)2009-05-18

For people looking to save a little on a tool that they are going to end up taking apart anyway, most Harbor Freight stores stock allen wrench sets that are very similar to the crank brothers tool for about 4 bucks.

mrmath (author)2009-01-29

Looks great, but something to note. I drive a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan in the US (made in Canada), and the key head has some electronics in it so that the car won't run without the key head near the ignition. I know this because I tried using a copy I had made at the local hardware store, and it would start the car, but the car would die. Then I tried the real key, and it ran just fine. The dealership confirmed it. YMMV. So, This wouldn't work for my car key, but my house key, for sure.

DELETED_jorgegunn (author)mrmath2009-01-29

I have a ford windstar with similar key issues We only have one key with the data on it and several people use the car and its 50 bucks a piece to copy. we made spare keys and left the ignition key in a lock box ( originally installed for camera gear) So if you really wanted to keep all of your keys together you could probably do something similar

Instead of paying the dealer $50.00 just go on eBay and get one for about $6.00. Most sellers will include very simple instructions on how to program your new key. Ace Hardware and most shoe repair shops will cut your new key for a couple of bucks.

atombomb1945 (author)mrmath2009-01-29

What you could do is make the folder for the rest of your keys, and just put the car key on a keyring attached here.

for some reason, i see the weight being anti-good (yes, i like that phrase) for the ignition, considering the damage that can and will be caused by a keyring having more that 5 or six keys. oh well.

I'm thinking that "too many keys" thing is a myth. About the only two things my wife DOESN'T have on her keyring is her purse and our daughter. We've never had an issue with the ignition in her '89 Buick after all these years.

Calorie (author)Spoonman2009-02-05

I'd be more worried about her knee in a car crash than a failure of a key switch.

it may just depend on the make. My dad's '93 Corsica near had the thing fall out on him. Needed replaced. then again though, the whole car has gone to crap. Just had to replace the headlight assembly too.

or you can get an old Nissan, i have had 2 and they run without the keys in. actually in the truck the keys fell out every time i hit a bump.

I can only think of a strip of Velcro to stop it from dangling.

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