The good folks at Instructables have done it again. This DIY swiss army key chain solves a problem you didn’t even know you had, but once you see how this tidies up your key ring, you’ll have one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments. They put the video up on MAKE, which you can watch here, and Lifehacker up with the written breakdown posted below.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- 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’s able to bond wood to metal
- Wood stain (optional)
- Polyurethane (optional)
- Drill and bit set
- Tin snips
- Sand paper/sanding block
- Small binder clamps
Tip: 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 Metal to Shape
Use whatever rounded object 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 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 prevent them from splitting when drilling larger holes. When you’re 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’re done adding keys and washers, add the second piece of sheet metal. Then, tighten everything together with the two lock nuts.
Step 5: Glue 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 clips 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 Paint and Polyurethane (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. When the stain was completely dry, I applied the polyurethane with a sponge brush.
Step 7: Done!
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 fit within the space of the handle.