Anyone that has love for the simplistic beauty of something as useful as a zip tie probably knows that it is possible, if sometimes difficult, to undo one without ruining it. Even if you didn't, this ible will teach you how to make a key for zip ties which will make it easier to open them back up whenever the occasion calls, and possibly expand your horizons with regard to new uses for them. I still would not recommend using zip ties in cases where they will frequently need to be removed, but if you were ever in a situation where you thought 'Man, it would be awesome if I could use a zip tie for this, but then I'll just have to cut it off in (insert time frame here)...'
Well now you know what the first thing is you are going to go zip tie, after you've made your very own key that is.
Step 1: All You Need Is...
This is pretty basic stuff, the main item is just a large paperclip, not a gigantic one, just a normal office supply-esque that's about an inch and a half long, and about the size of 16 gauge wire.
Besides that, you can use your imagination when it comes to the tools and what-not, as you may not have everything I used, and this is NOT the kind of ible that you go out and buy stuff for. That said, Here's a list of what I used:
and one of those things you use to install screen on window screens. * See pic, I have no idea what it's called
Step 2: Window Screen Rolley Thing.
Yes, that's the new official term. (or WSRT for those in the know , wait that might already be taken, oh well)
So anyway, take your volunteer paperclip and unfold the outermost flap, then take your WSRT and, using the grooved side, press the exposed part of the paperclip into something soft like a cushion or folded towel so that you get an arc.
Now you've got the basic shape, it just needs to be flatter, that's where the vice and torch come in.
Use the pliers to hold the paperclip since the whole thing will get really hot and hold as much of the curved bit of it in the fire as you want to flatten until it is red hot. Then, quickly stick that portion in the vice and clamp it down hard. Repeat the heating, clamping process until you are satisfied with the thickness.
Afterward, I heated it up one more time in order to quench it, because, well, that's what blacksmiths in the movies are always doing.... so I don't really know if that step is necessary, it might even be detrimental. Maybe someone in the community can clarify. I mostly did it for the pleasure in knowing that I've quenched something, and so that I could keep writing quench in this ible.
Ok, lets move on.
Step 3: Get a Grip.
Now your key is basically done, but in order to make it more than just a mangled, and quenched, (sorry) paperclip, we need to give it a handle and make it a proper tool. Because tools have handles.
There are about 1,972.35 ways to do this and it all depends on what you have on-hand, but what I did was wrap the handle area with some masking tape to fatten it up some and then gave it a couple coats of the plasti dip. Again, if you don't have all the stuff I used, you still get the basic idea of what I did here, so just use your imagination, and if you think you found a better way, feel free to leave it in the comments so that others may learn.
Edit: After the handle dried and I tried it, I realized that it didn't really work because it was still too thick and the vice had left a rough pattern. Plus it was so long that it bent at the base of the flattened part when I put pressure on it.
So I clipped that flat part off and began again heating and smashing, this time doing it all the way back to the handle, I think I did it five or six times to get it thinner. Then I lightly took it to the bench grinder to smooth it out and to make the point even thinner. Now it works great!