Introduction: First Metal Shop Project: Key Clip


This is a project designed to give some quick and simple practice on three key machines in the metal shop, as well as some very basic layout technique.  You should be able to finish the whole thing in about 30 minutes, with material from the scrap bin.  It takes about the same amount of time to walk to the hardware store, purchase a similar key clip, and walk back to TechShop.

You will need:

1) a shear
2) a bending brake/ finger brake
3) a multi-metal disc sander
4) a bench vise
5) a file
6) a scribe or sharpie
7) 30 minutes

Step 1: Find a Scrap to Transform; Cut to Width Using the Shear

Take a look in the scrap bin and select a nice flat piece of metal.  You're going to need something that's not aluminum, because you'll break aluminum if you try to bend it as far as we're going to for this project.  If you don't know what I mean, grab a piece of aluminum as  well and try it alongside steel- it'll get you more familiar with the differences between the materials.

You'll need a piece at least 8" long, and you'll be using the shear to cut it to the width you want your keychain to hang from.

Lay your keychain next to your metal scrap.  Make a mark on the metal so you know where to line the shear up; I cut mine to about .5", because that will work nicely with the diameter of my key chain.


Step 2: Disc Grinder: Make Some Nice Rounded Edges!

The large disc grinder can be used with any type of metal, which is great for projects like this where you don't need to TIG weld.  Because your future key chain is small enough to get stuck in the wheel, keep it flat on the bed surface (and remember to apply all the other safety precautions you learned in Metal Shop Basics SBU).

Remember that the laws of physics mean that the wheel spins faster on the outside than the inside, so when you want to remove lots of material at once use the outside.  Move your piece closer to the center for fine tuning.  This is a good opportunity to practice making symmetrical edges; not as easy as it may seem at first.

Step 3: Bending Brake: Fold the First Shapes

First, stick the rounded edge under your belt and make a mark for bending.

Make one very low angle bend to let the clip slide easily over your belt; I set mine in about .5".

Flip the piece over and make your first 'hook' bend: this is the part that grabs the belt.  You'll set the bend in as far as possible with the brake, then finish compressing it by hand.  Easy!

Step 4: Measure, Rinse & Repeat

Hook your future key clip over your belt and make a mark at the point where you want your keys to hang from.  Measure the length you'd like this portion of this park of the hook to be, and make a second mark for the final length.

Shear to final length.

Grind a second set of nice rounded corners on the other end of the hook.

This is the last chance to hand file any sharp edges down.

Step 5: Finish Bending!

Make another low angle bend on the other end of the clip.  Pull back slightly in the reverse direction of the bend to make a nice rounded space for the keychain to rest.

Step 6:

OK!  Last bend!

Use the mark you made (the low point where your keys will hang from) and set the last bend as far as you can on the brake.  Now you have a nice 'Z' shaped sculpture.

Take this over to the vice and clamp down that last bend... fini!

Step 7: Carry Some Keys

All set!

Now you can paint, powder coat, laser mark... etc.