Introduction: Bottle Opener Key

Whenever I stand up from a seated position, my first instinct is to perform a sort of signum crucis* to check for my wallet, keys, and phone. I can generally do anything with those supplies. Except open a frosty, bottled beverage that does not have a twist-off cap. I can open a bottle with a lighter, an Expo marker, and a table top. I have even used my teeth. But nothing beats that Boy Scouty sensation of always being prepared.

I need a low-profile bottle opener. Currently, I am using one of these to hold my keys and to open my bottles. It's cool, but it's huge. I have nearly worn through a pair of jeans with this monstrosity, and the time has come for a more permanent solution. I remember coming across this little gem** several months ago, and it seems like an easy enough project to do in an afternoon. A bottle opener that doesn't leave an unwanted bulge in my pants. A bottle opener that is on my person at all times, but no more noticeable than my housekey.

So here's what we've got after a trip to the hardware store for some extra keys:

a bottle opener cut into the bow*** of the key
a pile of brass dust (aka Maker glitter)
an open frosty bottled beverage

This project should take you all of fifteen minutes to complete, and that includes the time spent consuming your beverage.

*Holler si Latine loqueris. You know, the sign of the cross. Spectacles and so forth. Go watch a Mass or Austin Powers, depending on your religious inclination.
**The Makr site sells a much more attractive version of this project. Buy one from them if you don't have and can't borrow a Dremel.
***For those of you non-keysmiths out there, a key is divided into two major parts: the bow and the blade. Yes, that sounds like a sweet fantasy novel and/or RPG, but it's just the handle and the sticky-out part.

Step 1: Supplies

  • Key(s)
  • Bottle opener
  • Sharpie
  • Safety goggles
  • Dremel
  • Vise
  • Frosty beverage

Reluctant to (possibly) destroy one of my personal keys, I used a few discarded keys from the local hardware store. Just ask. They'll probably have a few cut keys that don't work for whatever reason. Or you can just jump in and try it with your house key.

You'll probably want to use a regular bottle opener as a template for the shape of the cut you'll make in your key. It really helps to have a pattern to follow.

Safety goggles are a must for this. You'll be staring intently at your key. Bits of brass will fly at your eyes. Cover them up. I ended this project covered in brass shavings. I looked like a four year old after an unattended arts and crafts class. But my eyes were mercifully brass glitter-free.

For the Dremel, you'll need a cutting disk and a sanding wheel. You could do this with a grown-up grinder, but it'll require a very deft touch. Use the Dremel. Keep your fingers.

Speaking of finger safety, use a vise. You might be able to get away with a pony clamp, but you will definitely not want to just hold the key in one hand and the Dremel in the other. Unless you are a cyborg.*

For the frosty beverage, I recommend a Mexican Coke. The kind that uses real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Or just get the tamarind-flavored Jarritos. Or, you know, a carbonated hops-based alcoholic beverage. 

*If you are, in fact, a cyborg, you may skip all of these steps and just use your metal claws to unbottle your drinks.

Step 2: Prep

Using the Sharpie, trace the shape of the bottle opener onto your key. Be sure to leave enough bow on the key to attach the key to your keychain. And be sure that you are marking the key on the flat side of the blade. If you cut the other side, you'll end up with key teeth digging into your hand every time you want to open a fresh drink. [I made this mistake in my prototype. It's unpleasant. Big thanks to thartley for noticing the notch placement and pointing it out. You owe your pain-free fingers to him.]

Set up your vise on your work surface.

Get those glasses on.

Plug in/charge your Dremel.

Put the key into the vise with the Sharpied side visible.

Place the frosty beverage in a safe place within view of your work space. You'll want it on hand for motivational and testing purposes.

Step 3: Cut and Grind

With your Dremel's power set to about 1/2 speed, start cutting along your marker line. Go slowly and err on the side of caution. Crank up the Dremel's speed once you've got an idea of how easy it is to cut through the key.

When your cuts are as close as possible to the pattern you drew, test your key on your bottle. Does it seem like it'll fit beneath the bottle cap? Is there sufficient room for the key to bite into the top of the bottle cap? If so, you're good to move onto the finishing step. If not, compare and contrast with your bottle opener template. Redraw your lines and cut some more.

Once you've got your basic cuts made, it's time to switch to the sanding wheel. Pick something that'll fit nicely inside your freshly cut key. It'll smooth it out, make it look properly round, and grind down any sharp edges that'd ruin your pockets. You can make the negative space a bit bigger without jeopardizing your basic shape if you are judicious with your sanding.

Step 4: Pop Bottles

Use your key to open the bottle. This is the moment of truth. It may take a few tries, but that's what you get with such a tiny lever. The end result is worth it. An always-with-you, low-profile bottle opener.

Drink up.

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