Introduction: Windable Wind Up Key

Six years ago I made Halloween costume that featured a working wind up key. Four years ago I posted a tutorial on how to make said key and around Halloween it’s almost always my top visited post on my website. I was finally talked into redoing this tutorial in video format. I then was told that I should post it on here.

This key is great because you can add it to any costume and then suddenly you're transformed into a wind up . And this key is great because it's interactive!

You can watch the video above, or continue on for a quick video summary.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You'll need:

  • Foam core board
  • Craft paint
  • Wind up toy
  • Dowel*
  • Exacto knife
  • Elastic belt
  • Matching fabric

*I used some bamboo I already had, so it had a pre-existing hole in it already, but if you're using a solid piece of dowel you need to drill a hole in the middle that's about the same size as the shaft of the wind up toy.

Step 2: Take Apart the Wind Up Toy

Picture of Take Apart the Wind Up Toy

Take apart the wind up toy to get to the precious mechanism inside.

Step 3: Attach Mechanism to the Belt

Picture of Attach Mechanism to the Belt

Poke a hole at the mid point of the belt and stick the shaft of the wind up mechanism through. Use a small dab of hot glue to tack the mechanism onto the belt, taking care not to glue any of the moveable parts.

Cut a piece of fabric to cover the other end of the mechanism and sew around it.

Step 4: Make the Key

Picture of Make the Key

Draw your key out on a piece of foam core board. I traced around a glass to start making the shape of the key and then just free-handed the rest of it. At the bottom, don't forget to add a notch that's wide enough to accommodate your dowel and about 3/4 inch tall.

Glue the dowel onto the key.

Paint your key! I painted mine with an undercoat of black followed by some copper craft paint. If you're using foam core, don't use spray paint. The chemicals in spray paint eat away at the foam and that's no good.

Step 5: Glue the Key

Picture of Glue the Key

Hot glue the wind up key onto the shaft of the wind up mechanism. Try not to overfill the key (like I did) because the glue will squeeze out and get on the belt, gluing the key to the belt, rendering it useless.

If you do happen to do this you can just carefully snip around the base of the key to try to separate the key from the belt.

Step 6: Strap It on With the Rest of Your Costume

Picture of Strap It on With the Rest of Your Costume


If your belt matches your costume, you can totally just wear it on the outside of everything. Like in the picture where I'm depicting a wind up ... vampire. Or... witch... without a hat. Yeah, that's it.

To wear it with a corset so you can't see the belt, I threaded the belt through the back laced portion of a corset, buckled the belt and then finished lacing up the corset.

You can also just tie a sash or something over the belt to hide it as well.

Bonus: a wind up dog.


77jonest (author)2015-10-15

I must say that this is super cool! I am going to try this for my daughters costume this year. Thank you for the inspiration, and yes, you should do more, as I would love to see what you come up with next.

Panda501 (author)2014-11-19

I'm a little confused on how to glue it. Could you give me some more details?

I love it! Having it on the dog is so cute!!!

Thanks! I'm surprised my dog put up with me strapping that thing on him, haha

mrdeee (author)chezlin2014-11-15

Perhaps it is a watch dog

cindy.adamswilson (author)2014-10-30

Thank you for posting this tutorial.... I am working on a key tonight for a party on Saturday!!

nightninja87 (author)2014-10-30

this is cool it makes me think of an old ps1 game called alundra 2 where the bad guys where wind up bots now i would just need to figure how to make that costume and use this with it

TheFrankTurk (author)2014-10-30

This is a great idea - and clear instructions. Can't wait to add one to my wife's Mini Cooper!

counterillusion (author)2014-10-28

This looks great! I would never have thought of using the "guts" of a windup toy, that's very clever. There's another windup key tutorial around here, but it requires all sorts of machinery, hardware, and materials many of us don't have access to. I like the look of yours better, and I think I could manage to make one for myself! Thank you for sharing this. :)

chezlin (author)counterillusion2014-10-29

Thanks, and you're welcome! Yeah, when I made this thing the first time I didn't have access to any crazy tools so I had to make due with what I had. But that's nice because I can share this tutorial knowing that most people will be able to recreate it!

seamster (author)2014-10-29

This is a great costume idea!

You should enter this contest too:

chezlin (author)seamster2014-10-29

Thanks! I'll definitely check out that contest!

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