Introduction: Swiss Army Key Ring

Picture of Swiss Army Key Ring

Most people have to keep track of at least a few keys. The easiest way to do that is to just keep them all on one key ring. But the more keys that you have, the more they fan out on the ring. If you have a lot of keys, then your key ring can get pretty bulky and impractical to carry in your pocket. Here is an alternate design for holding and organizing your keys that is a little more efficient.

The design of this key holder is very similar in construction to a Swiss Army Knife. The keys are arranged on two parallel bars. Each key can be rotated into the handle for compact storage and rotated back out for use. So here is how to make a Swiss Army Key Ring.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Two pieces of wood (about 1" x 3.75" x 1/8" each)
Thin sheet metal (about 2" x 3.75")
Two #8 machine screw lock nuts
Two #8 machine screws, 3/4" long
Ten #8 machine screw washers
Glue that is able to bond wood to metal (not pictured)
Wood stain (optional)
Polyurethane (optional)

Drill and bit set
Tin snips
Sand paper/sanding block
Small binder clamps

Source Tips:
Paint stir sticks are a good size to be used for the wood pieces. These are generally free at the paint section of most hardware stores. For the sheet metal, I used a baking sheet that I found at dollar tree for $1. This yields about 13" x 9" of metal.

Step 2: Cut the Wood and Sheet Metal to Shape

Picture of Cut the Wood and Sheet Metal to Shape

Use whatever rounded object that you have readily available to trace a semicircle onto each end of the wood pieces. Then using a saw or knife, cut along the outline.Trace the shape of these wood pieces onto the sheet metal. Using a pair of tin snips cut out two pieces of sheet metal that are a little smaller than the outlines. 

Step 3: Drill the Bolt Holes

Picture of Drill the Bolt Holes

Make a stack of the two wood pieces and the two metal pieces. Make sure that all the pieces are centered and hold them together with a binder clamp.. Mark the centers of the semicircle on each end. They should be about 2.75 inches apart. Using a 3/16 drill bit, drill through all four layers at one of these points. Insert a screw into this hole to help keep the layers lined up. Then drill the second hole. Remove the two metal pieces and re-drill the holes in the wood pieces so that the holes are wide enough to accommodate the head of the machine screw and the lock nut respective. You may wish to wrap the wood pieces in tape to help prevent them from splitting when drilling larger holes. When you are done cutting and drilling, sand all the surfaces and edges smooth.

Step 4: Assemble the Frame

Picture of Assemble the Frame

Insert the machine screws through the holes in the metal plates. Then add the washers and keys. Four keys and five washers will fit perfectly on a 3/4 inch screw in the sequence (sheet metal, washer, key, washer, key, washer, key, washer, key, washer, sheet metal). Using this sequence, two keys and three washers will fit on a 1/2 inch screw. Likewise, six keys and seven washers will fit on a 1 inch screw.

Alternatively, you can conserve space a little bit by eliminating the washers, but the keys will tend to stick on each other. If you have an odd number of keys you can fill the space with two washers.

When you are done adding keys and washers, add the second piece if sheet metal. Then tighten everything together with the two lock nuts.

Step 5: Glue on the Wooden Panels

Picture of Glue on the Wooden Panels

Apply a thin layer of glue to the outside of one plate and press on the wooden panel. Do the same for the second panel. Then use binder clamps to hold everything in place while the glue dries. You may wish to add a layer or two of card stock to prevent the clamps from denting your wood panels.

Step 6: Apply Stain and Polyurethane to the Wooden Panels (optional)

Picture of Apply Stain and Polyurethane to the Wooden Panels (optional)

Once the glue dries, your Swiss Army Key Ring is ready to use. But I chose to take it a few steps further by applying stain and polyurethane to make it look a little nicer.

To apply the stain I just used a piece of cheesecloth. Then when the stain was completely dry, I applied the polyurethane with a sponge brush.

Step 7: Finished Swiss Army Key Ring

Picture of Finished Swiss Army Key Ring

This design saves space in two ways. First, the keys are mounted parallel to each other and don't fan out. Second, the double folding design allows the blades of both sets of keys to all fit within the space of the handle.

This design is also a better way of organizing keys. Because the keys are always in the same orientation, it is faster and easier to find the key that you need. 


Sscowman2004 (author)2016-12-16

maybe you could label the keys so your not out in the elements all day

APennySaved (author)2016-12-01

This is easy, inexpensive and practical. This is definitely getting shared with A Penny Saved's audience. Thank you so much for posting this, Jason!

LynnW62 (author)2016-08-08

I made a version out of thin Lexan, and shaped a little like the keysmart, so I could get it open a little easier. I have it fairly tight so it doesn't rattle.

Easy to do, and only took about 20 minutes.

sshradnick hall (author)2016-05-23

I was like "oh... im gonna make one for my husband and i"... then i remembered our cars have remotes and those thick key handles... dastardly keys. wah

jvaupel (author)2016-03-30

Oops! Karger=larger

jvaupel made it! (author)2016-03-30

Oops! Karger=larger

jvaupel made it! (author)2016-03-30

Clever!! I saw some similar ones around the web--some quite expensive, too. I knew instructables would have something more reasonable. I don't have the tools to cut my keys smaller, but I was able to drill three of my key-holes just a tiny bit karger to fit the screws I wanted to use. Other than some washers and the lock-nuts, I made this out of stuff I found in my garage. I love it!!! I may add the wood, later but I love how your design is fully customizeable and even if I change my mind I can alter it without wasting anything. Awesome! Thanks for sharing :D

nana.atuah (author)2015-03-09

are you able to remove the keys after useage?

Yes, all, you have to do is remove the screw and nut. So you can remove the keys, but not very quickly.

grannyjones (author)2015-02-02

Hubby made several on the 3D printer. He found the files online.

Qwertyfish (author)2014-11-17

Could you add other things other than keys?
And how would you go about making a locking mechanism?

You could add anything that will fit between the plates. For most things, simple friction is enough to hold them in place. A lock would be a little more involved.

ottawafm (author)2014-08-17

You could also make this out of stainless metal too.

ottawafm (author)2014-08-17

This is a good way to store Schlage or Kwikset depth keys. Awesome idea!

snerual2010 (author)2014-05-24

Very clear, I made it without the tin and no complications until now. Really usefull though I dont have that much keys to organise

tunney5986 made it! (author)2014-02-18

Great instructions, I didnt know this was such a following. I just got a KeySmart, and love it. Worth the $15 if you want to avoid the cutting

andgraf (author)2013-11-19

It has, I imagine, the added benefit of giving enough leverage to help those with arthritis turn the key

CaTTeN (author)2013-07-21

made tihs from 2 old RAM blocks ;)


wdsims63 (author)2013-07-09

Wow. Really nice. This is probably the best quality instructable I have seen. Clear instructions and nice photos. Just enough steps.

Thanks for the idea. I got a "Key Flip" from kickstarter and I was less then excited about it. This seems like a much better solution for me than the product I paid real money for. :)

arain2 (author)2013-06-05

you can also use meal spray paint (or nail polish) and paint the top of your keys colors for organizing them. just the top before the hole so it doesn't mess with the mechanism.

Moe Greatness (author)2013-06-02

I might build this

Sharad (author)2013-06-02

Thanks for giving very clear instructions to make this useful key ring.

benjaminbummler (author)2013-05-30

I sooo have to do this!!! my keys mingle and tangle and sometimes i have to untangle them for a few minutes before i can unlock the door. its no fun, but no more...

Zikkurat (author)2013-05-30

I saw a similar product on Kickstarter a few days ago, and immediately came to Instructables to see if anyone had made one themselves. I am glad I did. I managed to make one out of what I assume is extra furniture hardware that the previous tenants of my apartment left behind. Thanks for the Instructable!

LuisQP (author)2013-05-26

la mejor solucion!!!!

marcuccione (author)2013-05-23

Saw this for sale on kickstarter

Yeah. I just saw that earlier today. It's always annoying when I have a good idea, and only after building it find out that someone else has already made it. Like when I made the magnetic stapler and then I found this
I wouldn't mind except for the fact that it looks like I am copying other people. I really need to do more research before starting a project.

agis68 (author)2013-05-23

Today i made my own with an old pcb from tv remote control. The pcb is free of parts and cutted and sanded. Also i add at the end some electronics for decoration.....

guffe jensen (author)2013-05-22

Well done

LITTLEski (author)2013-05-22

This is amazing!!

agis68 (author)2013-05-22

this wood is like balsa? or more like pop sicle wood?

excellent job and brilliant idea

technofossil (author)2013-05-21


Try to get some Chicago Screws (‎). It should make the design a bit slimmer and easier to swap out the keys.

Richard Chapman (author)2013-05-21

It's a very nice idea, but it must be nearly impossible to find the key you want without opening them all out.

That's where nail polish comes in! Step 7

granthams (author)2013-05-21

What a great idea.

sparkleponytx (author)2013-05-21

Wow! I like this idea. And your Instructable is so easy to follow.

darklotus (author)2013-05-21

this is a really clever idea! I'm with Fugitive_Bill, you should patent it!

Fugitive_Bill (author)2013-05-21

Simple and elegant. Job well done. I've seen tons of great , yet complicated instructables but this one just strikes a 'nice' chord with me. Congrats. - B!LL!

leftfootleashed (author)2013-05-21

This is a brilliant idea and really nicely documented too.

tryb01 (author)2013-05-21

This is similar to key holders sold for people with disabilities. They usually only have one or two keys on them. People who have a hard time holding & turning keys due to arthritis or injury to hand & wrist can sometimes use them with good results.The handle provides a lot of extra force. You have to be careful not to torque it too hard in the lock as you can bend or snap off your key. Learned that one the hard way. Very nice design.

Wingloader (author)2013-05-21

OMG. What a hilarious/awesome idea! I wish I cold come up with stuff like this. I agree with @green. Patent this...HURRY.

Wingloader (author)Wingloader2013-05-21

Ooops...I meant @helena

The Green Gentleman (author)2013-05-21

I am all over this.

Horef (author)2013-05-21

excellent !!

HelenaTroy (author)2013-05-21

excellent idea! make sure you patent it - I can see a market for this

realanthillkit (author)2013-05-21

That is brilliant!

ben2814 (author)2013-05-21

Sounds like a cool project thanks for the advice:-)

ben2814 (author)2013-05-21

Sounds like a cool project thanks for the advice:-)

syn123 (author)2013-05-21

Great idea

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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