Introduction: Design Your Own Molecule Key Holder

This molecule key holder is a simple project that can be completed in under one hour including laser cutting if my design files are used and a bit more if one wishes to create a new design.

This project came to my mind when I got tired of losing keys all the time and since I recently got my hands on k40 laser cutter I thought I should use it for this. If you don't own a laser cutter, you can easily find laser cutting service online.

I chose oxytocin - the hormone responsible for love because I think it looks really cool. I've also created designs for caffeine and serotonin molecules.

Materials, Tools and Software:

  • Sanding paper (optional)
  • Laser cutter (or online service)
  • Super glue or wood glue
  • Double sided adhesive tape
  • Plywood (any thickness works, I used 3mm)
  • Inkscape (if you want to design your own molecule)
  • k40 whisperer (if you are using k40 laser or similar)

Step 1: Design the Molecule

I've used Inkscape for design and k40 whisperer for laser cutting, both are open source. The design was made keeping in mind that cutting will be done with whisperer, and thus specific colors and other nuances. See screenshots for more info and check the next step for more explanations.

First import the picture that you want to use as a template to the Inkscape. You can find online a lot of pictures that are great for laser cutting without much editing. In object menu opacity can be reduced, so what you will be drafting will be easier to view.

I've used circle command (F5) and curves (shift + F6) to draft a few segments, then just group the segments, copy-paste, rotate (shift+ctrl+M) and crop accordingly (object -> clip -> set). I'm sure there are better ways to draft it using Inkspace but I'm not an expert, so I'll suggest our best friend - google.

Step 2: Laser Cutting

K40 uses a very limited M2 controller board. For example, there is no laser power regulator, you have to manually set it up, so engraving is limited, and thus k40 software uses Halftone option to have at least a limited engraving possibility. Turning this option on tells K40 Whisperer to convert any input grayscale images into dots that are spaced to approximate a grayscale image when engraved, so I used different grey color lightness to achieve a distinct look on different atoms in the molecule.

Also as you can see in a picture, extraction fan begs for an upgrade. If you own k40 and are in need of a good source to read about possible upgrades, look no further than

Step 3: Assembly

If you don't want to ruin your wall by drilling to it, double sided tape is a good alternative. There are various types, some are designed specifically for fixing stuff into the wall. I had no rounded tape, so I used a paper punch on standard tape, it worked perfectly.

Next - glue small rounded plywood pieces (hooks for keys) to marked spots.

Step 4: Final Product!

Finally, stick the key holder to the wall. Done!

Super-Size Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Super-Size Speed Challenge