Key Turning Aid


Introduction: Key Turning Aid

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things...

I originally made one of these last year for my Mother. After 30 years of being a Physical Therapist, the strain she put on her body and arthritis caught up with her. Her right wrist became unable to make certain motions without excrutiating pain. One of those motions was the twisting motion required to turn a car key. I came up with this simple device to help. It allows one to turn their car key by pushing and pulling rather than by twisting. ( Ironically Mom got her wrist fixed by surgery and now I use it because I broke a bone in wrist a few weeks ago).

You'll notice that the device shown in this Instructable is different from the one in the video . The device in the video is the original I built for Mom which is still going strong. The one shown in this Instructable is the one I built for myself. It promptly broke on the fifth or sixth use. This is because I used a wood the was too soft and incorrectly placed the key notch. I'll describe these errors and how to avoid them in later steps.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this project the only material you'll need is a hard wood dowel an inch in diameter. I used a hard wood for the original device, but (without thinking/realizing) used a soft wood dowel for the device documented in the Instructable.

I used the following tools. As always if you don't have them you can acheive the same effect a different way with what you have...or use it as an excuse to buy a new tool.

* Tape measure
* Bench vise
* Work piece protectors
* Router
* Straight cut router bit (I used a 1/4" bit. This will vary depending on the thickness of your key.)
* Drill with 1/4" bit
* Jigsaw
* Sandpaper
* Wood burner with tips (Optional)

Step 2: Measure Your Key

Before we can make the key turning aid we need to know how thick the base of the key is. Measure the base of the key with a tape measure or a pair of calipers. Once you have the measurement select a straight cutting router bit that is close to the thickness, without being larger than the key. We want the key to fit snugly in the device. So it is better to be a little small and expand the gap with files or sandpaper than to be too loose.

With the bit installed set up your router so the bit will only cut halfway through your dowel. This will give the key turner a lot of surface area to grab, and allow the dowel to keep its strength.

Step 3: Drill, Route and Saw

With the router set up we can now actually make the key turner. Clamp the dowel into your bench vise ( using work piece protectors if you don't want to mar the surface). The key turner will be about three inches long when finished so leave at least this much dowel sticking out of the vise.

The first thing I did was drill a 1/4" hole in the end of the dowel. This will allow a piece of string or wire to be run through so you can hang the turner in a convenient location in your car.

Next use the router to cut a notch near where the dowel is sticking out of the vise. I had to make two passes to get all the material so the notch was even.

With the notch done I then cut the dowel off about a 1/4" below the notch. I should've cut it off at least a 1/2" below the notch so it would be stronger.

Step 4: Sand and Finish

With the key turning aid constructed it just needs to be finished off. Use sand paper to smooth out the surface so you don't get splinters. For the original I stained it darkly but didn't seal it. You want the surface somewhat rough so that you can maintain your grip. A shiny finish would have the turner slipping out of your hand.

For the turner documented here I choose to use my wood burner to make a pattern in the wood. It looks cool and the pattern helped enhance grip. Another option would be to use the rubber tool grip stuff I used in making my work piece protectors.

However you choose to decorate it, you will have a handy device that will allow you to turn your car key without screaming in agony.

Humana Health by Design Contest

Runner Up in the
Humana Health by Design Contest



    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Just made one in less than 15 minutes. Send requests to Have enough material for about 6 more

    Hello my name is kim i would like to get my client one of those keys things to help her could u please tell me where to go u can email me at thanks

    I have a GM so my car does this automatically

    Im not sure someone who cant twist a key should be driving. Safety hazard.

    Are you concerned at all about the extra weight you are putting on your ignition? The extra weight tends to pull down on the ignition causing it to be unbalanced in the barrel assembly, which in turn, causes premature wear. I'm surprised that a physical therapist would use a system like this. Usually you want to exercise the injured area to strengthen the muscles, not use a crutch.

    5 replies

    well you don't really want to put too much strain on a broken wrist

    I was referring to his mothers arthritis. You probably shouldn't be driving with a broken wrist in my opinion. Not because a broken wrist would cause you to lose control of your vehicle but rather, with a broken wrist, you are less likely able to regain control if something sudden were to happen.

    Yeah, I feel like a jerk for saying you're right. I hope she doesn't drive on the highway.

    I can't afford a cab eveyday.

    No to the wear question. The turner is light and is removed after the ignition is turned on. My Mom's wrist was frozen b/c og bone spurs and arthritis. Otherwise you're correct that she would have used exercise to strengthen the muscle group and not used this. She really hates those lft chairs you see on TV, b/c they atrophy so many muscles.

    Very nice! This will probably help a lot of people with wrist problems. Have you though of putting a peg through the hole so that you can turn the key with an underhand grip? I though I would throw the idea out there. =]

    1 reply

    Actually no I hadn't thought of that. I may have to try that and see what happens! Thanks!

    While very simple, I can see it helping a lot of people. It's the kind of thing that's easy to make from almost anything but it's giving people the initial idea to motivate them that's important.

    (I changed the category, hope that's okay)

    3 replies

    (have you thought of putting a piece of cord through the hole you put in the end and making the whole thing into a keyring? Those with lesser dexterity might find grabbing this easier than fumbling for keys)

    That was the idea of the hole, but I didn't go through with it as my keys would be hard to fit in my pocket. My other thought was to use a piece of cord to hang it on something in the car so it would always be there when needed.

    Thanks. And the category change is cool. I meant to do it myself when I saw the assistive technology announcement, but hadn't goten around to it.

    I think this instructable ROCKS!  30 years from now I might be thanking you!

    1 reply

    Thanks! Be sure to vote when the contest wraps up.

     neat idea, i love these instructables that are outside the box but produce something simple yet incredibly useful

    1 reply

    Thanks! I'm full of these kinds of projects. Subscribe and never miss a RadBear original.