Multi-tool Keys




About: I am Dapper Hippo. I am a secondary science teacher currently working on my masters in curriculum and instruction. I love projects of all kinds, but particularly those that I think I can do better or make m...

Have a couple of keys you use and an old multi-tool lying around? So did I!

So I hate a jingling key ring and getting poked by my keys when they get disheveled in my pocket.  I also love things that provide utility and for my preparedness.  This project tackles both problems in a sleek little multi-tool.  My keys do not have the little transponders in them but I have done this successfully with those keys and I'll be including details on how to do that as we go.

As per usual, I am not responsible for death, dismemberment, disembowelment, getting attacked by rabid wolves, or spontaneous human combustion that may result from the undertaking of this project.

Materials/ Tools:
  - Dremel Tool with cut off wheels, grinding bits, and drill type bit.
  - WD-40
  - Some sort of vice to hold stuff steady while you're working.
  - 2 screw drivers of the same type as your multi-tool's screws (mine are torx screws)
  - Sharpie
  - 1 multi-tool
  - Copied Keys (if your key is 'chipped' or has a transponder, you're going to need both a chipped copy and a non-chipped copy)
  - Washers or spacer (see step 4 if you want to know what it's for).
  - Sugru (for transponder keys)

So I used the 'Bear Grylls compact multi-tool' because Gerber generally makes good stuff and it was cheap while being a good size for my project, but mostly because I had it lying around.  If you have more than two keys you want to add I'd suggest going for a bigger multi-tool.

Only use copied keys for this project: if you cut up your originals and mess everything up you'll have only yourself to blame.  This goes double for chipped keys.  The automotive section of Walmart copies keys cheaply and has even done chipped keys on the cheap for me (comparatively).

Note to transponder key havers: The reason you need both a normal key and a transponder key copy is because the chip in the key usually shortens the useable metal part of the key to accommodate the chip.  If the chip is located on the side of the key rather than in the middle, you won't need an extra, non-chipped key.

Step 1: Make Decisions

So you know you want to do this project and you're ready to start gathering materials. Great!  I've chosen 2 keys for my demonstration, a longer car key and a shorter house key.

This is also the time when you want to choose what tools you'll be removing from the multi-tool to replace with the keys.  This will most likely require you to move some around, but we'll get to that later.  Know that each key will require an entire 'slot' in which there may be more than one tool.  I've removed a saw blade and the phillips and flathead screwdrivers, opting for the tweezers, bottle opener, and knife blade.

Before you start with the screw drivers you should spray the entire multi-tool down with WD-40.  This is an important step and makes taking the thing apart much easier.  Let it soak for about 5 minutes while you set up a work station.

Clamp the tool down really well (making sure to protect it to avoid scarring the metal- either use a wood vice thing or wrap the tool in a shop cloth).

Go ahead and loosen all of the screws but don't entirely remove them yet.

Step 2: Take Stuff Out

Carefully select one side that has some of the tools that you don't want and remove the screws, keeping everything in order like I've done below.

Carefully remove the screw from the opposing side that is the pivot point for the crap you don't want.  In this case I took out the screw drivers as you can see in the second picture.  Keep the other screw in, just loose, to help hold everything together.  Make sure that you put your washers in like they were in the original placement of the tool.

Then close that part back up and loosely screw it down.

Step 3: Cut the Keys

So you need to take the keys you're using to the locks they fit in and mark how much of the key you actually need.  In a car, make sure to observe this in all of the locks as sometimes a few of them will be concave and require more key than others.  Be as generous as you can, it's better to have more than you need than to have too little and have to redo this.  Also make sure that your cut key will fit between the screws in the multi-tool.

***If you're doing this with a chipped key, measure and mark on your non-chipped copy as this is the one we'll be using for the key part.***

Step 4: Add That Key!

Take your keys and place them in the blank section of the multi-tool. If your tabby on the key protrudes much at all, you will need to ensure that it is put on the screw that the pliers are not on.  This is because any protrusions will interfere with the closing of the pliers.

Put the screw in the key side and place washers (pictured) or some kind of spacer to keep the non-hinged side from being all wobbly.  The piece pictured is left over from one of the other multi-tools I've altered and I will cut it to size and use that instead of the washers.

In the third picture I've switched the key I was using to make things fit better and to utilize the ridge on the key to open it so I didn't need a tabby.  I still use and cut down the spacer as you can see.  Put a washer between the key and the top part before you screw it on.

Step 5: Take That Out, Put This In.

I took out this piece to make the sides more even because the keys are thicker than the tools that they replaced.

I then put the longer key into the multi-tool on the other side but same handle as the smaller key.  Make sure they open in opposing directions if you have a chipped key.  Put a washer in there between the outside and the key (not pictured).

Step 6: For Chipped Keys (transponder Keys)

So you've got your keys in the multi-tool and you're thinking to yourself: "Self, this guy has not shown me how to make this useful for me because it can't start my car due to the lack of transponder in it."  To that I reply: "Nay, you simply have not finished reading this instructable! Patience my good sir."

Because the transponder must be close to the ignition in most cars with chipped keys, it is essential that you make the keys open in opposition so that the open space is by the pivot of the car key.

***Carefully*** cut away the plastic around the holdy part of the key to remove the chip.  In the one I had the transponder was in the middle of the key as seen below.  The P stands for plastic, the M for metal.

Once you have the chip out, wedge it into the open space if it's encased in plastic like mine was.  If not, be careful and surround it with Sugru before putting it in the open space.  Finish it off with some Sugru on top to make sure you don't lose it.


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    12 Discussions


    Really nice and creative! I have never done something similar to any of my multi tools, but after watching this I got some motivations. I have posted some pictures of the tools I have and made reviews on them at Hope you can take a look as well and let me know which one could be a good choice for this project.

    1 reply

    Glad you like it! Several of those multi-tools look like they would work well for this project. The main thing you're looking for is accessibility- can you take it apart easily? Are there screws holding it together or rivets? The other thing to look at is if there are springs or casing that could interfere with the keys, or if there's bulky casing that would make it so that the key wouldn't fit into the lock well.

    Also, I'm not sure how well those with curved handles would work- I'm not saying they wouldn't, I'm just not sure.

    Phil B

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nicely done. Have you tried carrying it onto an airliner, and did the security people give you a hard time?

    2 replies
    Dapper HippoPhil B

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Because it has a knife on it and because US security measures are absurd, I would not take it on an airplane or to jury duty or anything like that (even without the knife as it would make a pretty good weapon on the lanyard too).


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wouldn't want to do this with my Leatherman but it is very cool.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I love seeing these. I made one from aluminum angle stock years ago when I was a cable guy. I had the idea when I realized that my keyring had nearly as many keys on it as my leatherman had blades. I think I was also inspired by the VW key a friend (who insisted on calling me Steve) carried. Very nice conversion.