Earlier today I walked into my local department store to find out that this year's LEGO Star Wars advent calendars were heavily discounted as it was already four days into december, and I, being 19 and loving the movies, thought that buying one would of course be the greatest idea of this month. When I got home I naturally got to open as many as four gifts, it being the fourth day, and I was hooked once again...
Pretty soon after I had assembled a mini model of a Star Destroyer, I started playing with an idea to make it into a keychain. I started searching Instructables if anyone had posted a guide on making one, and I was sure there was at least one, I only managed to come up with a couple of rather "interesting" Instructables, both of which basically involved drilling a 5mm hole in the middle of a model and attaching some sort of string to it and calling it a keychain. Tut tut, but sure, it works fine enough for a simple brick; I'll give you that. I knew that I could do wayyy better.
So here it is, my guide on how to convert a LEGO mini model into a sturdy keychain.
Note: Sorry if the pictures are more or less a bit dark! The Sun goes down at around 2:30pm around here at this time of the month, and, well, I'm doing some late night 'ibling so it doesn't exactly help with the lighting either...
If you have any questions about this Instructable, feel free to comment. :)
EDIT; (NEARLY) TWO YEARS IN: I stumbled across here to reply to a comment today, and found out that this Instructable has been viewed by over 15k people so far, which is awesome and a bit stunning considering how simple I thought it would be. Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to read through, and I hope people have taken the idea to make a kickass keychain. Mine has lasted insanely well, and at this rate the plastic will wear off into a round slab before it breaks :)
Step 1: Materials List
So here's what you need:
- A Lego Model
- Well this is quite obvious, this's why we're doing this really. Now when it comes to choosing a model, you should remember that some models with thin, pointy pieces might break easily in your pocket. (As in break physically. Not as in "Oh! Now I've to reassemble it!") LEGO characters themselves are what you usually find in Keychains, but I would not recommend making a keychain out of one if you can find it for just a few [insert currency unit here] from here. Now small "proper" models (that don't have the weak pointy pieces I mentioned) make for much neater, nerd-approved, keychains, and they usually are a bit easier to make when it comes to finding a place to attach a hook.
- A paperclip
- Now the "interesting" 'ibles I also mentioned used ready-made hooks (or holes), but I didn't have one so I decided to use a piece cut out of a paperclip instead, since it is more customisable. And for the cutting you need...
- Wire cutters
- Pretty much any pair will do in this case because we'll only cut the paperclip with these.
- Some epoxy to glue the parts together.
- I cannot stress this enough: if you don't know about epoxy, read about it before glueing anything together. It is strong enough to really screw things up for you if you're not careful.
- We'll use this to attach the model to the rest of your keys, as you might have guessed, and probably the easiest way to get one is to loot an old keychain. It's an eco-friendly thing to do and, if you're lazy like me, the easiest, most effortless way.
Step 2: Making the Hook
We'll start by making the hook. I found that the tip of a paperclip is handily enough already pointed into a shape we want, so we just have to cut it off the rest of the paperclip. Trim a bit of extra length from the "feet" of the hook aaand we're done.
Step 3: Assemble Your Model
Next, if you haven't assembled the model yet, it's time to do so.
Keep an eye out for places where you could attach the hook, and don't attach the pieces too tightly as you will have to disassemble it soon anyhow. Some small pieces stick to each other very tightly, and parting the two without causing damage to the parts can be hard.
Step 4: Finding a Place Where to Attach the Hook
First we'll have to find a place for the hook. Generally, you don't want it to be showing when you're showing off your work, so undersides of models work splendidly. Do concern the orientation of of the model, so that it won't feel awkward or just plain dumb in your pocket. Usually between two pieces in the tip of the model is the easiest place to use.
Second, try putting the hook between the pieces you chose and see if it'll work out. Don't worry about the hook producing a gap between the two pieces, as we'll deal with it next.
Third, if there is a gap, we naturally have to do something about it. If you find yourself puzzled when it comes to why there is a gap, consider laws of physics. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly what part of the piece the hook is touching and lifting, but when you do realise what part it is, try filing/sanding that part (could be, for example, the knobs on top of pieces, which can be easily filed) until you can fit the two parts snugly together even when the hook is there. Dry fit the hook in several times until you're completely satisfied with it.
Step 5: Gluing Parts Together
Now here comes the tricky part... Kids; you always read that you "shouldn't do this or that on your own, but let your parents do it", but I really, really do mean it here. Epoxy is not something to fool around with and it produces an extremely strong bond between things, including fingers, eyelids, lips, etc. Not. Cool. Let your parents do it for you and it'll be for the best. You've less to do that way anyhow ;)
So, for glueing, I decided to use 5min epoxy. What you'll want here is transparent / clear epoxy, otherwise you can have slower settling stuff as well. For example, my minifig had the engines that were clear blocks, so in order for the minifig to look like it would have just been assembled without having been glued together at all. Also you don't want to mix transparent blue parts with amber-coloured stronger epoxy, it'd (probably) look pretty nasty in this case at least.
Be really careful with applying it and don't apply too much of it so it won't burst out onto your hands when you push the pieces together. Mix some epoxy onto a small piece of cardboard, etc. and apply the epoxy to the LEGO pieces using a toothpick or similar.
When it comes to applying the epoxy to the parts, you want to add some into the middle of the part, or on top of the knob, and then push the pieces together carefully so that you won't get epoxy on your hands. Try to leave the part that you'll use to attach the hook for the last, but in any case, when you're attaching this last piece to the rest of the model, put some more epoxy between the pieces, stuck the hook in, and attach the last piece to the model. Now, just let it dry, attach the 'keychain-thingamajik' to the hook, and you're done.
Step 6: The Finished Keychain and Other Ones I've Made Later
Now, all there is left to do is to admire your work, be a show-off when meeting your friends, and make and give a few to your friends and family as gifts; Christmas is coming afterall ;)
I'll probably post more different models here later, so do check them out later. If you have any questions about this Instructable, feel free to comment. :)