Introduction: Wood Key-grip

About: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer, now I'm teaching physics in Waldorf high-schools. I always investigate electronics, robotics and science in general, I'm a passi…

Since wood is a beautiful material, I always love to make tools and objects from it. In this instructable you'll see how I modeled some little plates over the grip of my home keys, to make them unique and astonishing ;-)
The key's outline has been altered in each picture, to prevent the keys replication...

Step 1: The Material Source

For this project I've found an old wood baseboard, I'm not sure about the exact wood type, but it's rather soft and, most important, it has a very nice grain. Of course you can use any wood type, maybe you can obtain an old case, or an old object with whom create a much better grip for your keys or for other tools. In many cases wood seems old, ruined, ugly... but try to polish it and you'll be surprised.
Cut from the board two rectangular pieces a little bigger than the key head.

Step 2: The Bath

This step is not essential, and actually is useless to create the wood grips of my keys. But my first thought was to create a wood shell all around the key head. Then I decided to scratch out the wood until the key metal appears around the contour.
Leaving in water the wood for a few hours will make it very soft and you'll be able to push the two boards one against the other until they swallow the entire key head.

Step 3: The Clamp

In the first image of this step you see how the big bench vise could push the boards over the key. Leave it closed for many hours, until the wood is dry. Then you can apply the glue and let it dry. If the vise's arms are too narrow to keep all the wood pieces you need to equalize the pressure all over the surface with the help of a two metal plates.

The second image shows the circumstance in which you've already decided to keep the metal contour all around the key head. In this case the pressure to glue the pieces together is not very high, and you can use a little bench vise or a clamp, and instead of the metal plates, two wood blocks are good. Use a strong glue for metal, and remember to carefully clean and degrease the surfaces before applying glue over them.

You probably want to make one or two little holes on the wood plates before gluing them, this way you can remember the exact position of the key hole, as you see in the third photo.

Step 4: Sandpaper

When the two shells are fixed you can begin to cut and scratch them on a rough sand paper, until you have an approximate shape. Then change sandpaper roughness two or more times, to obtain a smooth surface. Make the hole with a drill, better a column drill.
You can smooth the border of the holes with a conical drill bit, a file, or with the same sandpaper.

Step 5: The Rough Outline

Make the same process with the other keys. Scratch the border until you reach the metal of the key. This metal is very soft, it's probably brass, so you can model it and change the shape of the key. Do it with the rougher sandpaper, and then change roughness step by step, you can polish it with the same wood at the end of the process.

Step 6: The Perfect Shape

Looking at the profiles of these keys you can see how  much you can play with shapes. Each key will have a different  hand-grip, and you'll be able to discern them with the only touch.

Step 7: Oil

When you're satisfied about the shapes, the holes, the roughness of the key, you can pour it in oil to let the wood keep the dark colour and highlight the vain.

Step 8: Wax

It's also good to polish it with wax. The more you'll rub the more the wood will become shiny and astonishing! Look at some detailed pictures of the modified keys..

Step 9: A Key to Nature

..and some pictures to show the natural new grip in its natural world ;-)

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