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.
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Step 1: 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)
Drill and bit set
Sand paper/sanding block
Small binder clamps
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.