Swiss Army Key Ring

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About: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker, and all around Mad Genius

Most people have to keep track of at least a few keys. The easiest way to do that is to just keep them all on one key ring. But the more keys that you have, the more they fan out on the ring. If you have a lot of keys, then your key ring can get pretty bulky and impractical to carry in your pocket. Here is an alternate design for holding and organizing your keys that is a little more efficient.

The design of this key holder is very similar in construction to a Swiss Army Knife. The keys are arranged on two parallel bars. Each key can be rotated into the handle for compact storage and rotated back out for use. So here is how to make a Swiss Army Key Ring.

Step 1: Materials

Materials:
Two pieces of wood (about 1" x 3.75" x 1/8" each)
Thin sheet metal (about 2" x 3.75")
Two #8 machine screw lock nuts
Two #8 machine screws, 3/4" long
Ten #8 machine screw washers
Glue that is able to bond wood to metal (not pictured)
Wood stain (optional)
Polyurethane (optional)

Tools:
Drill and bit set
Tin snips
Sand paper/sanding block
Small binder clamps
Pencil
Ruler

Source Tips:
Paint stir sticks are a good size to be used for the wood pieces. These are generally free at the paint section of most hardware stores. For the sheet metal, I used a baking sheet that I found at dollar tree for $1. This yields about 13" x 9" of metal.

Step 2: Cut the Wood and Sheet Metal to Shape

Use whatever rounded object that you have readily available to trace a semicircle onto each end of the wood pieces. Then using a saw or knife, cut along the outline.Trace the shape of these wood pieces onto the sheet metal. Using a pair of tin snips cut out two pieces of sheet metal that are a little smaller than the outlines. 

Step 3: Drill the Bolt Holes

Make a stack of the two wood pieces and the two metal pieces. Make sure that all the pieces are centered and hold them together with a binder clamp.. Mark the centers of the semicircle on each end. They should be about 2.75 inches apart. Using a 3/16 drill bit, drill through all four layers at one of these points. Insert a screw into this hole to help keep the layers lined up. Then drill the second hole. Remove the two metal pieces and re-drill the holes in the wood pieces so that the holes are wide enough to accommodate the head of the machine screw and the lock nut respective. You may wish to wrap the wood pieces in tape to help prevent them from splitting when drilling larger holes. When you are done cutting and drilling, sand all the surfaces and edges smooth.

Step 4: Assemble the Frame

Insert the machine screws through the holes in the metal plates. Then add the washers and keys. Four keys and five washers will fit perfectly on a 3/4 inch screw in the sequence (sheet metal, washer, key, washer, key, washer, key, washer, key, washer, sheet metal). Using this sequence, two keys and three washers will fit on a 1/2 inch screw. Likewise, six keys and seven washers will fit on a 1 inch screw.

Alternatively, you can conserve space a little bit by eliminating the washers, but the keys will tend to stick on each other. If you have an odd number of keys you can fill the space with two washers.

When you are done adding keys and washers, add the second piece if sheet metal. Then tighten everything together with the two lock nuts.

Step 5: Glue on the Wooden Panels

Apply a thin layer of glue to the outside of one plate and press on the wooden panel. Do the same for the second panel. Then use binder clamps to hold everything in place while the glue dries. You may wish to add a layer or two of card stock to prevent the clamps from denting your wood panels.

Step 6: Apply Stain and Polyurethane to the Wooden Panels (optional)

Once the glue dries, your Swiss Army Key Ring is ready to use. But I chose to take it a few steps further by applying stain and polyurethane to make it look a little nicer.

To apply the stain I just used a piece of cheesecloth. Then when the stain was completely dry, I applied the polyurethane with a sponge brush.

Step 7: Finished Swiss Army Key Ring

This design saves space in two ways. First, the keys are mounted parallel to each other and don't fan out. Second, the double folding design allows the blades of both sets of keys to all fit within the space of the handle.

This design is also a better way of organizing keys. Because the keys are always in the same orientation, it is faster and easier to find the key that you need. 

3 People Made This Project!

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72 Discussions

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Sscowman2004

1 year ago

maybe you could label the keys so your not out in the elements all day

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APennySaved

1 year ago

This is easy, inexpensive and practical. This is definitely getting shared with A Penny Saved's audience. Thank you so much for posting this, Jason!

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LynnW62

2 years ago

I made a version out of thin Lexan, and shaped a little like the keysmart, so I could get it open a little easier. I have it fairly tight so it doesn't rattle.

Easy to do, and only took about 20 minutes.

image.jpeg
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sshradnick hall

2 years ago

I was like "oh... im gonna make one for my husband and i"... then i remembered our cars have remotes and those thick key handles... dastardly keys. wah

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jvaupel

2 years ago

Oops! Karger=larger

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grannyjones

3 years ago on Introduction

Hubby made several on the 3D printer. He found the files online.

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Qwertyfish

3 years ago

Could you add other things other than keys?
And how would you go about making a locking mechanism?

1 reply

You could add anything that will fit between the plates. For most things, simple friction is enough to hold them in place. A lock would be a little more involved.

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ottawafm

4 years ago

You could also make this out of stainless metal too.

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ottawafm

4 years ago

This is a good way to store Schlage or Kwikset depth keys. Awesome idea!

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snerual2010

4 years ago

Very clear, I made it without the tin and no complications until now. Really usefull though I dont have that much keys to organise

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andgraf

4 years ago on Step 7

It has, I imagine, the added benefit of giving enough leverage to help those with arthritis turn the key

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wdsims63

5 years ago on Step 7

Wow. Really nice. This is probably the best quality instructable I have seen. Clear instructions and nice photos. Just enough steps.

Thanks for the idea. I got a "Key Flip" from kickstarter and I was less then excited about it. This seems like a much better solution for me than the product I paid real money for. :)

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arain2

5 years ago on Introduction

you can also use meal spray paint (or nail polish) and paint the top of your keys colors for organizing them. just the top before the hole so it doesn't mess with the mechanism.

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Sharad

5 years ago on Step 7

Thanks for giving very clear instructions to make this useful key ring.