Introduction: How to Make Decorative Brass Keychains/Key Fob

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

this time I wanted to try out a new to me material and tried to create some decorative brass Key Fobs. I had a lot of fun making these and working with brass is certainly something I will do more in the future.

Please note that I have added associate links to amazon products in this Instructable. Even if you do not want to buy a product I recommend I would appreciate if you could use the link if you plan a purchase. This won't cause you any additional cost but will result in direct support to me and my projects.

Step 1: Choice of Material

The idea was to use a material I could easily work with but I didn't think much about rust. If not properly decreased and sealed with lacquer or some other protection mild steel will start to rust pretty quickly.

So this time I chose brass to see how it works for this application. Brass will also fall victim to Oxidation so protecting it with a clear coat is important too.

Step 2: Stock Prep

First of all I determined the length of the Key Fob by measuring my own hand. It is approx. 10cm (4") wide so I thought that rounding up to 12cm (4 3/4") would be about right.

I used some layout fluid and a scribe to mark the 12cm on the rod stock. If you do not have layout fluid you can use a permanent marker instead.

Next up I used a small triangular file to create a small notch which will help with sawing and prevent the hacksaw from slipping.

Step 3: Cutting

This step can be done with hand tools or power tools, whatever you have or feel comfortable using.

I chose a simple hacksaw but if you have one available and plan to make multiple items I would recommend a metal cutting bandsaw.

Since brass is so soft the cut is pretty straight forward with whatever method you choose.

Clamping the stock down during the cut makes things a lot easier.

Step 4: Quick Clean Up

As you can see the hack saw will leave a pretty rough finish. Too make this a little nicer I went and clamped the pieces in a vise with soft jaws.

Using gradually finer files I removed the rough tool marks from the previous step. Again if you are doing a small batch of these Kubotan you might want to consider using a power tool for this step. A combination disk & belt sander should work fine here.

If you are about precision and own one I would recommend to use a metal lathe for this and the previous step.

Step 5: Before We Drill

I tried to drill holes into round stock before and most didn't really go straight through the middle as intended.

Since I wanted the hole to have a diameter of 5mm I scribed 7,5mm from one end. Since the stock has a diameter of 10mm this should result in a nice and uniform look.

This time I tried to give the drill bit more surface/material to bite into. The triangular file from the previous step created a little notch. I used an automatic center punch followed by a sharp center punch to create a little dimple that should help the drill getting started without wandering.

Step 6: Drilling

If you watch closely in the video you can see that the tip of the drill wasn't properly aligned with the dimple. Due to the tension the drill practically milled/enlarged the hole slightly to one side.

Since I was filming this one I didn't notice until I removed the piece from the drill press.

I drilled the two remaining holes by hand with a cordless drill staring with a 2mm pilot hole and enlarging it to 5mm in a second step. This worked quite well but I think if I would take the time to set up the drill press properly I could have been much faster.

Step 7: Shaping

I experimented with a number of different grit belts to find a balance between material removal and finish. I the end I decided to use a 80 Grit belt on my 1x30 Belt Grinder. This resulted in a reasonably fast removal of material whilst still leaving an appealing finish. Since brass is so soft the marks from the grit are later clearly visible.

As a first step I rounded of the end opposite the one with the hole achieving a rounded taper. As for the texture I moved up to the contact wheel and used that to create an irregular texture. Try to vary the angle, pressure & direction of each mark and the result will be an organic looking rock like pattern.

Step 8: Keyrings

For this step I used 1 1/4" split rings that were made for a thick gauge spring steel. I tried to add a link to rings that resemble best what I used.

I inserted a flat screw driver into the coil of the ring, twisted it 90° and could easily insert the wire into the Key Fob hole. Be careful doing this though as the steel rings will scratch the softer brass of your workpiece.

Step 9: All Done

So here you go, the only thing I did after this that wasn't documented was giving the Key Fobs two coats of a clear coat.

This project was a lot of fun and quick to do with relative simple tools.

If you want to make your own make sure you check your local laws first. If you like them but don't want to make your own get in touch with me as I'm looking to make a small batch for sale.

If you haven't watched it yet here is a link to the video.

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