Introduction: How to Hide a Key, Effectivley

Picture of How to Hide a Key, Effectivley

So, my house got broken into over the summer. Since then, we've been changing locks and such, until we got to a door with a huge window in it.
It's the door that goes outside to our firewood storage area, and we use it regularly. Only issue is, any lock we put on it can be opened by just breaking the glass, and putting your arm through.
We narrowed our options down to two, get a new door without glass, or a double locking deadbolt.
So, after hours of battling with the lock, one side one side working, and the other not, (Bought at home depot, figures) we had to make the tough decision about what to do with the key. We couldn't just leave it in, or put it anywhere close by. That would defeat the purpose.
We decided to disguise it. Read on for details, if the picture isn't enough.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Picture of Gather Your Materials and Tools

There's not a lot you need.

For parts, you need a spare light switch plate, a dimmer knob, and obviously, a key.

For tools, you need a torch (lighter works, torch better), a pair of pliers, and a 4 sided square file, a glue gun, and hot glue sticks.

Step 2: Make the Knob and Key Assembly

Picture of Make the Knob and Key Assembly

Honestly, I didn't do this the best way that I could have done it. It still works, but, I suggest using better methods. Perhaps using a dremel or milling out the space for the key, instead of how I did it. But I didn't feel like breaking out any tools, so, bear with me.

First, grab the key with the pliers. You wouldn't want to get a severe burn. Then start the torch up, and proceed to heat the end of the key that'll go into knob. Check every few seconds for when it's hot enough to melt the plastic ring type thing in the middle of the knob. Once it's at that point, turn off the torch, and melt yourself a groove in the knob where the key will reside. Push it down with the pliers until it hits the bottom, then stop and hold the key straight up till it cools. I wouldn't recommend dipping it in water, since the plastic may crack.

Once that's cooled, grab your glue gun, and fill in the area around the base of the key. This isn't completely necessary, if your key is held in good enough by the melted plastic, but I did it for added strength.

Step 3: Take Care of the Plate

Picture of Take Care of the Plate

Depending on which kind of key you have, it might be larger than the hole in the plate. If it is, then take the 4 side file and sand the top and bottom. Continually test the key, to make sure you have a good fit. Alternatively, you could use a dremel.

Once that's done, you want to mount the plate on the wall. You need to make sure it's NOT on a stud, just in drywall. This is so the key can go in without any issues. Don't forget to use a level!

Step 4: Make the Key Fit

Picture of Make the Key Fit

Simplest step. Just push the key through the drywall in the hole of the plate. Do it slowly, so it's just a hole, not a crater.


skagit (author)2016-07-19

great clever...will do it as soon as I get home

Jill Valentine (author)2008-03-31

If you're worried about someone breaking the glass to reach for the lock, doesn't that just mean they could make a bigger hole in the glass and walk right through?

cvxdes (author)Jill Valentine2008-04-01

It's a glass window, not an entire glass door. plus it has little wooden cross things

dll932 (author)cvxdes2009-08-27

Just FYI, those are called mullions. Here's another idea: get a piece of plexiglas (perspex) about an inch bigger then the window in the door (those are called lights). Mount it with screws and dome washers. It will make it REAL hard to bust through the window and also adds insulating value, like thermopane. If you wanna be real flash about it, cover it with picture frame molding and paint it-it'll look like the door was made that way.

Johenix (author)dll9322010-03-10

Better yet, use 1/4" thick Polycarbonate (trade names Lexan (U.S.) or Merlon (United Kingdom)) for a frustrating surprise for the burgler.

Also how about a key outside, knob inside dead bolt located more than an arm length below the window.
In an Altzhimer's ward the exit doors had a second knob above head height (and eye level) on the theory that the patients would not see and thus not turn the knob.

dll932 (author)Johenix2010-03-11

Polycarb is good, if somewhat spendy. Be aware it's not real hard to scratch.

True enough about Alzheimer's patients, but you want the stress evenly distributed if someone tries to kick the door in. That would be about 1 meter above the floor, or else one installed 1/3 up from the floor AND one installed 1/3 down from the header.

mgalyean (author)dll9322012-06-24

Sandwich 1/4" (or even thicker polycarbonate) between sheets of normal window glass. Clean glass well before making sandwich. The window glass prevents scratches on the pc. In this case, use the existing pane as one side of the sandwich. Crush some very dry silica gel dessicant into powder and put on bottom inside sandwich on either side of the PC where is will be invisible behind frame; this will keep moisture down should any get in. Seal the edges with high grade silicone sealant. Modify the frame/door to accommodate the extra thickness and reinstall any mullions removed previously. It would look great and make a would-be thief look like an idiot trying to break through. If you really want the full monty, replace the mullions with steel look-a-likes that project into a steelcase door several inches.

Johenix (author)mgalyean2012-06-24

Your glass-polycarbonate-glass sandwich would just yeld two broken panes of glass and a pain to clean up.

mgalyean (author)Johenix2012-06-24

That kind of goes without saying, doesn't it? The point is that polycarbonate scratches very easy so the glass would allow you to clean the exposed surfaces without scratching the poly. Note that the post I was replying to pointed out that it scratches easily. Read much?

tazameir (author)2012-02-06

It's not a bad idea for that situation deevoid mentions, but for outside personally I like to hide a key *far* from my door, so people will never figure out it's for my front door! Even if your in a big city, using a magnetic key holder several doors down in a hidden location is much better then having it nearby. Someone can accidentally find it. Just if your in an apt, do not hide it on your floor as someone may find it and decides to start testing the key on all the doors.

madhops0620 (author)2008-03-29

this is a good idea but an easier way to do it would be to get one of those outlet wall safes which are just little compartments that look like wall outlets.
you can get one here for 8 bucks

cvxdes (author)madhops06202008-03-30

That would take too much effort to get the key, for my specific use. Plus it's more expensive. The door the key opens goes out to the firewood storage area, so when I'm carrying in a load of wood, I'd only have 1 hand for dealing with the key. That would be a great idea for other areas, though.

madhops0620 (author)cvxdes2008-03-30

also, now that i think of it. they have key holders that can hold a key or two that mounts to the wall or the outside of your house, and all you do is punch in a little code and you get the key

Jawatech (author)madhops06202008-03-30

if you remove the battery on these and apply 110VAC to the contacts it will open reveling the key.....sometimes

madhops0620 (author)Jawatech2008-03-31

these dont use batterties they are all mechanical

Jawatech (author)madhops06202008-03-31

Oh my mistake. The one i saw that used a battery had a door hanger if i remember correctly.

thoraxe (author)Jawatech2008-04-07

ya they have those things on the show "It Takes a Theif" on the discovery channel.

sjoobbani (author)thoraxe2008-05-29

I love that show too! :) go to and they have free tv+movies legally so try to see it there

Element1604 (author)sjoobbani2010-03-16

The "It Takes a Thief" on is a drama from the late 60's.
Pretty sure its not the same show.

Cartuner55 (author)thoraxe2008-05-16

love that show

mg0930mg (author)madhops06202008-12-04

I have that...YAY!

madhops0620 (author)cvxdes2008-03-30

actually i just noticed that this one has a key. The ones ive seen in person before were just little compartments

chilll2009 (author)madhops06202009-06-25

Just make that 'outlet' thing.

Keeter (author)madhops06202008-03-29

Then where do you put the key to the outlet wall safe? lol

maternco (author)2008-05-31

Normal deadbolts have a turning knob on one side to lock or unlock it from inside the house and a cylinder on the opposite side in which to use the key to lock it or unlock it from the outside the house. Double locking deadbolts don't have that knob, instead it has cylinders that need a key on both sides. So if someone does break a window on the door they couldn't just turn the knob to unlock it, they would have to turn the key which they couldn't because it was creatively hidden.

dll932 (author)maternco2010-03-11

Please be aware building codes in most places won't allow double-cylinder locks in multi-unit dwellings.

veeguy (author)2010-01-04

In case of a fire or other emergency, you or your loved ones, need easy, fast access to that key to escape.  I'd suggest a belt type key reel.  Get the long (`36") chain type and mount it about 30" away on the wall.  That way, its in the vicinity of the lock it fits, but it will be too far away for a thief to reach from the outside.

After all, if they want in badly enough, they will break out the whole window anyway.

sabbott (author)2009-08-27

I have a very similar situation with a door to a second floor deck, and it's a nuisance. This is a great solution, and is triggering other ideas too! thanks for posting it! Very clever!

DanYHKim (author)2009-08-26

For a spare house-entry key, I think it may be best to hide it under a rock in someone else's yard. Anyone who stumbles on your spare key will find that it 'doesn't work' for the house it is close to!

jhames (author)2009-07-06

Pretty clever! Thanks for sharing your secret. Now I know how to break into your home! lol, just joking ...Or am I? :D

augur45 (author)2008-12-04

Oops... I overlooked "large window." I was thinking multiple small panes. If the window is large enough for someone to crawl through, hiding a key won't help. You'll need bars. Probably not a bad idea anyway as window lattice stuff can be easily knocked out to make a big enough hole to crawl through.

augur45 (author)2008-12-04

Clever idea. But complicated. Alternatively, you can hang the key out of sight from outside the door and out of reach from someone reaching in to get the key to open the deadbolt. Either way, replace the glass with acrylic sheet. 1/8" or 1/4". Much harder to break - not impossible, but harder.

cprocjr (author)2008-03-29

great idea but someone might try to to on the light and nothing will happen! (-:

duck-lemon (author)cprocjr2008-03-29

Yea but there is a chance they think its broken. So unless they read this instructable you should be safe.

cprocjr (author)duck-lemon2008-03-29

i meant a house guest because buglers don't normally turn on lights.

duck-lemon (author)cprocjr2008-03-29

you'd be surprised. Burglars need to see as well. Believe it or not their diet does not consist of only carrots.

StrangeRover (author)duck-lemon2008-07-23

...yes their diet consists of only meth.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)StrangeRover2008-08-06

>snort!< (as in ha ha, not snort as in cocaine)

dUc0N (author)cprocjr2008-03-30

Yes... nine times out of ten, they prefer to play their bugles in the dark.

Prometheus (author)dUc0N2008-04-04

Rofl @ bugles!

cvxdes (author)cprocjr2008-03-29

At least for me, its in a room that guests shouldn't be in. I suppose if somebody did put this in room that guests would be going in, that would be a problem,

HammyHavoc (author)duck-lemon2008-04-05

Where do you think burglars get their laser cutters from?

duck-lemon (author)HammyHavoc2008-04-06

ME!... i mean uhh Shut up!

Gage987 (author)2008-06-18

what if a friend turns it and the key falls in to the wall?

Mizzybee (author)2008-05-04

I'm just a bit confused as to why you're hiding a key inside your house.....wouldn't it be more effective to hide it outside, so that if you're locked out you can get in?

deevoid (author)Mizzybee2008-05-10

The need for a key inside is safety. My father had to break an elderly neighbor’s window to get her and her granddaughter out during a fire few years ago. The poor woman was too flustered to locate her keys and both doors have glass panes with keyed locks on both sides. I think this is a great idea as it won’t be easily misplaced.

sjoobbani (author)deevoid2008-05-29

you know those outside electric outlets with the spring loaded cover, i used one of those but now i have a different pro system

Prometheus (author)2008-04-04

I like the project, and can see it's potential.....but why not replace the deadbolt with one more suiting your needs? A double-lock deadbolt is not the expected application here, this is what you'd use a single-lock deadbolt for (knob on one side, lock on the other). If they break the glass, the sound might alert you anyway. Alternately add a glass-break sensor over the door, or one of those alarms that go off if anyone even touches the doorknob (if it is a wooden door). No alarm is burglar-proof, but do their job as a deterrent when you teach your neighbors what to listen for. Again, I like the idea, but I see it useful in other places better than here. Just my humble opinion anyway...

Prometheus (author)2008-04-04

Perhaps add a heavy steel washer to the knob, and a powerful magnet to help hold it in, as repeated use of this might make it difficult to keep it from falling out and revealing your secret.

snakester (author)2008-04-03

good idea but what you should do is add a small rod to fit into the drywall that way you can turn the knob so if someone did try to use it as a lightsouce they would be like oh the light is burnt out.

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