Introduction: Skeleton Key

Picture of Skeleton Key

Clever saying when given as a gift not included.

1 Coat Hanger
1 Paper Clip
1 Crystal
Heat Source

Keep in mind solder is a bonding material and not so much a filling material. So it can tricky to work with. Also, solder is softer the steel so it will file off faster.

Step 1: Strip a Coat Hanger

Picture of Strip a Coat Hanger

Use sand paper to remove any coating on a section of coat hanger. To help speed up the process I spun a piece in my drill press.

CAUTION! If you do it this make sure to hold the wire before you turn the drill on. Otherwise the section of wire will turn into a whip / weed wacker. Be careful and work within your experience.

Step 2: Make Rings

Picture of Make Rings

Use the size socket you want to make rings. I used a 5mm. Make a smaller ring for the shaft. Then use a paper clip to make two more shaft rings. The amount of rings or spirals is up to you. Have fun with it.

File the free ends of the paper clip rings so the close with a nice fit.

Step 3: Solder

Picture of Solder

Arrange the rings for your handle.

Apply flux to the areas where you want the solder to bond. Use a heat source to solder.

 It may take a few applications.

Step 4: Make the Blade

Picture of Make the Blade

Hammer a section of wire flat. To do this you have to hit the wire squarely. It you hammer off center the wire will hook to the right or left.

Cut three pieces and solder them together. File the pieces to remove tool marks.

Step 5: Finish the Soldering

Picture of Finish the Soldering

Slip on the base ring. I uses a spiral of three wraps and filed the ends flat. Also position the paper clip rings and use a tiny amount of solder to hold those in place too.

Lay the key flat and but the blade up against the shaft. Solder it on. Be careful no to use too much heat or the soldered blades will come apart.

Clean up the excess solder. I used a combination of a rotary tool bit, a file, and sand paper. Polish with polishing compound and a buffing wheel.

Step 6: Apply a Crystal

Picture of Apply a Crystal

I got this crystal from the craft store. Twenty-four of them cost me $5.00. Use super glue to set the stone on the bow (handle) of the key.

Make a ring so that is fits securely around the crystal and glue that in place too.

Polish off any excess glue.

Use it as a:
Key chain
Book mark (tie a ribbon on it)
Zipper pull


orbit1212 (author)2016-02-16

this is just cool

JimJamUrCreation made it! (author)2015-04-28

I made this for a gift, the recipients name started with an E. Thanks for the idea. This project has inspired many more with hangers because I have about 30 of them all cut up in my garage.

My name starts with a E! I love / collect skeleton keys. Unfortunately, I do not think I would be handy / creative enough to make it on my own. If you were to make another one and add a lil crystal (as he did on his picture) I'd gladly buy it off of you! Let me know?! Email me ..

ElaineW7 (author)2015-10-14

I love it. Does anyone think it is possible for me to make a clasp for this book i bought (Heroes & VIllians from Once Upon a Time Show).. The book I bought is all blank and when I intend to write my story in it, I think it would just be awesome to be able to add a lock/clasp on it and need a skeleton key to open it.

ElaineW7 (author)2015-10-14

I bought a book from eBay (It's a book from the Once Upon a Time Show) and I *REALLY* would love to add a lock onto the book and require a skeleton key to open it. Does anyone think this is possible at all ?

mmcgill3 (author)2015-10-10

I'm gonna give this a try tomorrow. It sounds like a challenging project for my soldering class.

NathanSellers (author)2015-04-11

This is really clever. I love the simplicity and elegance of it. Great design.

Dale FaithE made it! (author)2015-01-14

can you make key chains likethis?

deadpooltacos (author)2014-05-22

you amaze me, mrballeng, as i'm trying to think of my first 'ible, you give me inspiration for what to do, you are a very creative man.

Mrballeng (author)deadpooltacos2014-05-22

Thanks. I'd much rather be in the garage the watching tv. Looking forward to what you post.

Keira_Yagami (author)2014-03-16

I was considering making this for a good friend of mine, but I have a couple questions. First: Is there any other material that you would recommend making this out of... something more sturdy? Second: I have a half carat garnet that I thought about putting in it instead of a stick on gem. Do you have any tips for setting it, or should I just follow the instructions above? Thanks for the help, and love your work. ^-^

Mrballeng (author)Keira_Yagami2014-03-18

The material is up to you. A big factor being how big the final product is going to be. For setting a stone take a look at this
Keep in mind though I've never tried this method with garnet. Best of luck.

3070075 (author)2013-08-11

Sorry to ask, but I couldn't quite tell what was used for the shaft. Was it the coat hanger with paperclips wrapped around, or was it another piece of metal?

Mrballeng (author)30700752013-08-11

It was the coat hanger with paperclips wrapped around. You know where to find me if you have anymore questions. Brent :)

vnh1970 (author)2013-06-20

This is really cool. Love it. :)

Magik- (author)2013-02-27

Very cool!

spamsucks (author)2013-02-21

Ok I only saw this project today, and I cant really stick with the constructive comments part as I have none. This is an awsome project, and I really want to try it now. :-)

Thanks so much for posting it

Spitfire690 (author)2011-09-08

My solder doesn't want to stick. I'm using the same solder as you, and flux, but it just beads, no matter what temperature...

bben46 (author)Spitfire6902012-02-19

Most common beginner mistake is heating the solder and not the metal. For best results, heat the metal until the metal is hot enough to melt the solder. then apply the flux first immediately followed by the solder.

There are several kinds of solder and several kinds of flux. For jewelry the best solder is called silver solder. It melts at a higher temperature and is harder than electronic or plumbing solder when it solidifies. You will need to find the proper flux type for silver solder.

The purpose of flux is to clean the metal of any surface impurities and allow the heat to spread evenly - and it should sizzle and evaporate when you apply it to hot metal. Don't inhale the fumes.

Modern electronic solder is lead free and does not stick nearly as well as the older lead/tin electronic solder. - Silver solder is still the best for this type project

Mrballeng (author)Spitfire6902011-09-09

Make sure the metal is free of any oxydation. Also keep in mind that hardened metals are difficult to solder.

Emsaid (author)2012-02-18

I made one similar to this! except it was out of a solid piece of metal then I bent it and turned it into a bracelet, I meant to take a picture to show you but I dont have it anymore but it looks really cool

scoochmaroo (author)2011-03-10

I love this too! Do you have a shop where you sell your jewelry? This needs to be in my collection.

Mrballeng (author)scoochmaroo2011-03-11

Don't have a shop but I'll let you know if I ever open for business.=)

I second that! I love skeleton keys! And that one is beautiful!

black hole (author)2012-01-14

You know, I saw pendants that looked like this going for $30.

rapidkhan (author)2012-01-04

i made this and turned it into a bookmark

cninjette (author)2011-11-05

could you possibly attach the rings with a jewel in the middle of them?

victorvector (author)2011-04-22

Again, very nice indeed!

One question , if you don`t mind , about the solder ...

Is this just soft solder , or silver solder ?

What do you use as your heat source ?

Most impressive work , lovely to look at.

Mrballeng (author)victorvector2011-04-23

It's silver solder. The kind you find in the plumbing section at any home improvement store. As a heat source I use a $15 torch, also in the plumbing section. I'm going to make another key soon. I think the sheet metal I bought will make for better materials.

Ichmawida (author)2011-03-17

how thick is a coathanger? like the gauge or mm?

Mrballeng (author)Ichmawida2011-03-19

I would guess between 1.5 to 2.5 mm. I'll measure and let you know.

Ichmawida (author)Mrballeng2011-03-31

cool thanks :)

ehudwill (author)2011-03-21

I am going to make this for my daughters. They would love it.

taueret (author)2011-03-20

I love this! Also I think it would look even better a bit rusty. I would never have thought of using coat hanger wire. Can't wait to experiment.

TehLonelyOne (author)2011-03-11

Amazing! I love how you make amazing little things out of incredibly common things :) So many perfect gift ideas!

Mr.Sanchez (author)2011-03-11

Weekend ^Project...Soon the Pics....thnks.

iPodGuy (author)2011-03-11

Please don't ever stop making instructables.

B.F.L.M (author)2011-03-11

Amazing! this is going on my todo list

RedneckEngineer (author)2011-03-10

Very cool! my wife is getting into jewlery makeing and has even talked about useing keys like this. Thanks you just saved me some money!

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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