Introduction: Doorknob Key Rack

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If you're like me, you've got a small pile of everyday carry items somewhere near your door. To help keep this ever growing pile of extra keys and knick-knacks in check I made a key holder from door knobs which is mounted on the wall, perfect for working double duty as a coat rack or hat holder.

The best thing about these types of door knob locks is that they have a very standard profile that fits most types of house keys, so any guests that come over can find an empty knob and usually find a key that works!

Your keys will be organized, hats and coats will have a home, and everyone will love the stylish look of operable door knobs that hold their keys.

Ready to get organized? Let's make!

Step 1: Find Suitable Wood

I was graciously gifted this board of walnut from my friend Kludge, who recently came by my shop and made a fun video of his visit. This is my first project using this very nice piece of wood, and I have plenty left to make future projects with.

Step 2: Cut to Size

The walnut board needed to be cut to a manageable size before it can be cleaned up.

Using the chop saw I cut about a 30" section of board. It was really neat seeing where the the saw can cut into the wood how fresh it looked, while the outside faces of the board looks aged and dirty. I was excited to clean up the board more and reveal the grain of the walnut.

Step 3: Jointer, Planer, Table Saw

I ran one edge over the jointer, removing about 1/8" of material, then used the jointed edge against the jointer fence to remove 1/8" of material from one face of the board. The results in the first picture were dramatic.

The board was then run through the planer to even the opposing face. The final side was trimmed up on the table saw, giving me a square and even piece of walnut to work from.

Step 4: Saw Strips

Once the board was cleaned up I cut it into strips on the table saw.

I varied the thickness of the cuts between 3/4" to 1" for each pass, making each strip slightly different than the last.

Step 5: Rotate Some Strips

I mixed up the grain pattern by swapping around a few of the strips, then rotating some around to create different depths.

I chose to stagger the strips so that the edges would be stepped. I played around with a few different combinations of the strips until I found a design I was happy with.

Step 6: Glue

The strips were glued and clamped, then set aside to dry overnight.

Step 7: Modify Door Knobs

Most modern door knobs have a shaft that connects through the door to the knob on the other side, along with posts which register to the opposing knob and fasten them together. For this design we'll use the two connecting posts, but do away with the central shaft.

You can usually find old door knobs in a reclaimed building supply yard. If you want to use similar knobs, have new knobs, or want have a spare set of keys for the door knobs you can buy inexpensive door knobs online.

I removed the plastic spacing collar from this door knob, then used a rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment to remove the central shaft, leaving the two mounting posts as they'll be used later to attach the knobs to the board.

Step 8: Prepared Knob

Here's a picture of the prepared door knob; the plastic collar was removed, and the central metal shaft that connects the corresponding door knob has been cut off.

Step 9: Measure and Mark

Wanting the 4 doorknobs evenly spaced along the board, I measured the average overall length of the glued up staggered strip board and divided that number by 5.

I scribed a line along the lengthwise axis of the board and then measured in from one edge the calculated number and made a mark, then continued marking at regular intervals to mark the center locations of each door knob.

Step 10: Indent Knob Locations

I lined up the door knob above the marked place where a knob would be located, then pressed the knob into the wood to create an indent where the mounting posts would be drilled.

Step 11: Drill Preparations

To accommodate the rotation mechanism of the door knob I selected a large diameter Forsner bit that was slightly larger than the diameter of the rotational mechanism on the backside of the doorknob.

I also measured the diameter of the mounting posts and selected a matching drill bit.

Step 12: Drilling

I bored a shallow cavity at each marked location about 1/4" so the door knob mechanism could fit inside and rotate unimpaired.

After switching to the smaller drill bit I drilled the mounting holes all the way through the board.

Step 13: Fit Knobs

With all the holes drilled the door knobs can be inserted into the board to ensure a good fit. Check the knob rotation action and make any adjustments as necessary.

Remove the knobs in preparation for sealing the wood.

Step 14: Oil Finish

I applied a tung oil finish to the wood, which really makes the grain and colour of the walnut pop!

I applied a liberal coat, working the oil into the ends of the board, and along the inside edges, then wiped away any excess. After a few minutes I applied a second coat to ensure good coverage and penetration.

Step 15: Install Knobs

The door knobs were inserted into the board and fastened on the backside with a washer to help hold it in place.

Step 16: Mounting Clips

To mount this key rack I chose to use flush mount hangers (also called Z clips). They are similar to French cleats, but made of metal and have a very low profile.

I scribed, drilled, and installed one side of the mounting clips to the backside of the board., ensuring the tongue of the clip faces down.

Step 17: Tape Matching Clip

I rolled up painter's tape, sticky side out. I used painter's tape as it has low adhesion.

The corresponding mounting clip was inserted into the clips that were already inserted into the board, then gently held in place with the roll of painters tape. The idea is that when the board is pushed against the wall the tape will stick to the wall and the loose clip, and when the board is slid away you'll have the exact location of the clip placement that will match.

Step 18: Level and Press Board to Wall

When you've found where your key rack will be installed place a level on the top of the board and press onto the wall so that the rolled tape sticks.

Gently slide the board upwards to release the clips and revel the location of where the matching clips need to be installed on the wall. Mark with a pencil the screw openings for each clip, then remove the taped on clips and install where the pencil marks are.

Step 19: Keys

Luckily, most house keys have a similar profile and could work for the locks in the door knobs. While keys can have a wide variety of ridges, the profile for most house keys is the same - you can usually find at least one of your keys that will work.

If your keys don't work you can always use one of the keys that came with the knobs and add it to your key chain, just mark it somehow so it's easy to identify.

Step 20: Key Storage

With your key rack installed you're ready to start storing your keys, hats, scarves, and other hangables from your own door knob.

Take this project further by denoting a door knob just for guests, or one for each of your housemates, or take them all just for you and your large assortment of keys that you want to keep organized!

Have you made your own key organizer? I want to see it!

Happy making :)

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