|Project by Ethan Sincox||posted 01-03-2007 08:14 PM||6417 views||73 times favorited||16 comments|
I picked this idea up from the last pages of an old Fine Woodworking Magazine (some issue from 1992 or 1993, I believe). I’ve probably made 20 or so keys in the past few years, and I’ve refined the process several times since the first one.
I used to use copper tubing for the key ring hole. That wore way too quickly, so I started using bronze spacers I found at a local hardware store. They were increasingly more difficult to find, so I started looking for something else to use and eventually came across brass tubing of the right diameter at a local True Value Hardware. That is what I now use and will probably stick with.
The wood varies according to the person whose key I’m working on. For example, my mother-in-law’s favorite color is red and her car is red, so I used Bloodwood. It has a great sheen to it when you polish it up to the wet/dry grits, but you have to be really careful to get all of the scratches out before you move up to the next grit.
The shape is sometimes totally random and sometimes very specific, again depending upon the person and what they want. I also have learned I have to restrict the key size to the construction of the ignition switch, as well. Some ignition switches have those metal tabs on them; I have to make sure the key fits between the tabs. (I’ve had to redo two keys because of that.)
I tend to use Gorilla glue with my key grips – partly because of the metal-to-wood contact. I know some people don’t like Gorilla glue, but these are small pieces and I’ve certainly never had a problem with them before.
I don’t really think this is a great money-making project, as I spend several hours on a key, if you total the time from beginning to end, and I don’t think most people would charge $100 for a wooden grip. I’m also unable to make keys for a vehicle if they have a chip in it, which is quite common these days. I have a few ideas I might start checking into, but please forgive me if I don’t really elaborate on them here…
Oh, my favorite key grip is one I made for myself out of Blackwood. When it is sitting on a table, it looks like a regular black plastic key grip. Someone has to pick it up to see that it is really a piece of wood.
Descriptions of the keys displayed for this project:
White Background – This is one of the last keys I’ve made. I wanted to move away from the traditional key shape. The wood is Vasticola, an Australian timber. I love how it looks like flames… I’ve gotten really good at “letting” the key into the blank of wood – the opening where the key comes out of the wood is really tight on this one.
Black Background – This was also a recent key I made from an Australian wood. This is York Gum – can you see the ghostly faces in it? Scarey wood…
Green Background – This is my wife’s key. I made it with Maple burl from Canada. She likes that she can grab her keys and find her car key just by feeling for the wooden grip.
-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com