Repair a Broken Key Handle.




Introduction: Repair a Broken Key Handle.

I have some keys with cheap plastic handles. They break easily, as you've noticed if you've ever used one very long. Once the handle is broken off, you can't put it on a keychain anymore. So what do you do? Here's what I did.

What you need for this Instructable will depend on whether you want to go all the way through or do it the lazy way and stop early.

The short method: Hammer, awl and anvil (or if you use a drill you won't need any of those), and of course your key.

The complete method: All of the above, except you will definitely need the hammer and a wire cutter (or any kind of pliers with a cutter), plus a nail or two (as described in Step 4) and something that looks like it would make a good replacement handle for your key. This could be wood that you've cut for the purpose, scrap plastic, or anything else. I found an unidentified metal fixture that worked perfectly.

Step 1: Make a Hole

I started by making a hole in the remaining handle bit so I could attach a new handle, or whatever. To do this I simply used an awl on a bench vise with a small anvil.

Mark where you want the hole to be and set the awl onto that spot to make sure it's properly aligned. It should have roughly equal amounts of metal on each side for the most strength. Before you hammer, press it down firmly to make a little dent. This will ensure it doesn't slip when you start hammering.

Be careful with the hammer. You don't want to drive the awl all the way through and into the anvil because you'll just dull the point (and with a cheap anvil like this, you'll dent the anvil too). There's a place on this vice with a hole for gripping pipes and things, and I positioned the awl over that so I could hammer it through. No, you really shouldn't hammer on the jaws of the vise, but I did anyway.

You could also drill a hole, but it removes material and weakens the metal more, which is why I did it this way. Besides, it gave me an excuse to include this.

Step 2: More About the Hole

So, you have a hole. But it's messy. The first thing I did to help this was drive the awl back through in the other direction. I then removed it again and hammered the key flat. This reduced the size of the hole slightly, but not too much. And it's still a little rough inside, but that doesn't matter to me.

Notice the buldge on the back edge of the handle. This happens because the awl moves metal out of the way instead of removing it.

If you want, you can stop with this step and just put it on a key ring this way. You'll want to clean up the inside of the hole a little, maybe with a drill or something. Or if you used a drill in the first place, then you're already set. It'll work well enough, but I want to add more to the handle because the key is really small and hard to turn.

Step 3: What to Use for the Handle

I really wanted to add a wooden handle. It could be longer than the original, and I could personalize it with carving or burning. But the wood split when I cut it, and I was too lazy to try again. After all, this was supposed to be a quick fix for a key that goes to a cheap lock anyway. So I hunted around through scrap parts and found this bracket thing. I don't really know what it's for, but it looked convenient. Try to find anything that you can put around the sides of the key and have a place left to attach to your key ring. It might require punching or drilling more holes, but mine didn't.

Step 4: Attaching the Bracket

Again, I used this bracket that I found in the garage. I folded it in half, using a nail to keep the round part open. You'll want to remove that later.I want to make sure my key ring will fit through that. The two sides have been bent tight together so that they will pinch down on the key and help hold it.

Now find a nail that will fit through the hole and has a head large enough to overlap it. You don't want it to fall through. Put it in like i've done and cut off the pointy end with a wire cutter. Any will do. Make sure you leave a little hanging out. I cut mine a little shorter than I would have liked, but it still worked out.

Step 5: Flatten Your Rivet

You may not have realized it, but you just made a rivet. Now you have to rivet it. I left the other nail in for this part so I wouldn't accidentally squash the opening. Just hammer down that little stump you left in the last step, and it will flare out. If you left enough, it will spread out and cover the hole. Once it's flattened a little, if you're using a ball-pein hammer, the ball will help spread it out more. Maybe give it some taps on the other side too to make sure it's tight.

If you left enough there to spread over the edge of your hole, you'll want to make sure it's rounded. Use the flat face of the ball-pein hammer (or whatever kind you have) and hammer around at an angle to give it a domed shape. Because I cut mine off too short, I didn't have enough to do this, but it will still hold well enough.

Now remove the nail from the back.

And there you go. Your key now has a new handle. You can see that it hasn't added a huge amount of length, but it's enough to make turning the key much easier.

Step 6: Put It on a Ring

I think you know what to do with it now.

A hole in the other direction would have preferable if I had more keys, but this works for me. It wouldn't have been difficult, though, to just flatten the handle and punch or drill through it.

2 People Made This Project!


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12 years ago on Introduction

Wonder if you couldn't just mold a new key handle out of J B Weld or perhaps plumber's putty....


Reply 5 years ago

JB Weld works pretty good for me. Here's how I did it and kept it out of the electronics compartment and from bonding the two half shells together:


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

Sure, that would probably do fine. Polymer clay or epoxy resin would work well too. And you could give them a custom shape. I would still make sure the key has a hole for it to go through, though, since those things may not attach well to the smooth surface of the metal. Roughing it up with sandpaper or making scratches in it could help. I just happened to find this bracket, and it was easy enough for me to rivet it on, but putty and such is a good thought.


6 years ago

A nice one. I love the nail as rivet idea ;-)


11 years ago on Introduction

Do you know how to remove the black plastic handle. I have a lot of keys, and it makes them too thick.


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Mine broke on its own, and I just twisted it off the rest of the way. They're not too hard to break anyway. If yours is stubborn, you could cut into it with wire cutters.

DIY  Dave
DIY Dave

13 years ago on Introduction

I have taken the plastic off of a couple of my keys. One of them I took off because it was loose and I was afraid it would fall off; it already had a hole in the metal. The other one I took off was so I could tell it apart from another key on my key ring; It didn't have a hole, so I drilled one in it.


Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

Ah, good point. I think I've seen them with holes too. Maybe I should mention that. I actually broke this one off on purpose because it was already crumbling, so I just finished it, for the same reason as you. The others shown are not in great condition either, but they're still holding at the moment. When they finally give out (or I break them off), I hope to find some other creative way to fix them.