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How-to: Leather key bar

diy keys leather steel carry keyring craft

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#1 Glen

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 03:26 PM

Let me preface this post: the idea for this project came from the beautiful OrbitKey.  I wanted to try the format before buying, and quite liked my own creation.  If you want something professional looking with actual engineering behind it, head on over to their website!  If, on the other hand, you like making stuff or you'd like to try the format before committing to purchasing an OrbitKey or similar, then I hope this is of interest to you.

 

XKUjFpV.jpg

 
This is a simple make - it involves cutting out some leather, making holes in it, threading everything onto a bolt, then trimming the excess metal.
 
I've tried a few combinations of nuts & bolts and made some mistakes, so I'll try to give that info without rambling on and making it look difficult.

 
Cost: <£5
Time: 15/20 mins
Difficulty: Low
 
Materials you need:
 
Leather
Something sturdy, but flexible and not too thick; I used a ladies belt from a charity/thrift shop.

1x M5 bolt
M5 (5mm thread) is a good width for the hole in my keys, if your hole is narrower, just move down widths.  Regarding bolt length: start long and trim down; I ordered too short then had to buy longer bolts, I use a 25mm bolt to hold 4 keys with little excess (results may vary).  Choose your head type on looks & profile; I chose a stainless steel torx security bolt because it looks cool; hex/allen heads also look the business and even slotted heads look good. (I used this)

2x M5x20mm Washer
Sometimes called penny washers or repair washers.  The width of the washer dictates the width of the strap, 20mm outside diameter was best for me (probably you too).  Use the flattest/thinnest washers you can find. (I used this)
 
1x M5 Nyloc Lock Nut
You really need a lock nut rather than a regular nut (to stop the nut loosening and falling off).  They're a little taller, which is annoying.  I tried using a domed lock nut to hide the cut end of the bar, but found it too obtrusive. (I used this)
 
Keys
Before you cut anything, you need to know how many keys you'll use (one of the limitations of this DIY method).
 

9WMK7i0l.jpg

 
Tools you need:

  • Knife or sturdy scissors for cutting the leather
  • Hacksaw or Dremel etc for trimming the metal bolt
  • Leather punch (or drill if you're stuck) for making holes in the leather

 

Method:
1 - Cut the leather
The length of the leather part will vary depending on how long your keys are and how many of them you have.  Wrap the leather around the length of the keys and mark to get your length - you need enough room to be able to freely rotate the keys and the leather needs to protrude ~7mm above the hole in your keys to accommodate the entire washer.  The width of the leather is very slightly wider than your washers.  Use the washers as a template to mark the round ends of your rectangle, then cut it out.  If you want to be precise, I'm sure you can make a template out of paper first and adjust your measurements accordingly.
 
2 - Punch the holes
Use the washers as a template and mark where the holes in the ends of your leather need to be, then punch or drill them out.  Make the holes slightly wider than the thread of your bolt, it makes assembly easier.  The holes are covered by the washer, so if they're messy, it doesn't show.
 
3 - Assemble
Start with your bolt, feed a washer onto the bolt, then one end of the leather, then all your keys, then the other end of the leather, then the other washer and finish with the Nyloc nut.
 
4 - Trim the bolt
Tighten the nut & bolt so your keys can move freely, but don't flop around (holding the nut with pliers and tightening the bolt with another tool).  When you're happy with the tension, trim the protruding end of the M5 bolt.




50BRmuul.jpg


bvLoBPNl.jpg


XKUjFpVl.jpg

 

That's it.
 
Customisation
In my version, I've included a USB drive.  I mounted it by fixing it on a thin piece of metal, attaching it like a regular key, but twisting the metal support 90 degrees so it sits behind the keys rather than along side.  (it's such a hack job, but it worked)
 
If you want to add keys, just cut another bolt.  If you want a different colour, just cut another piece of leather.  You could easily go titanium to save weight and I considered making a version with brass fittings, (but struggled to find brass washers the correct size).  eBay has M5 anodised bolts in lots of colours and you could swap leather for rubber etc.
 
Road Test
I've used this thing for 6 months (as of this post), and there are good points and bad:

Things I like:

  • I made it myself
  • It's compact
  • It doesn't rattle
  • When I slide out a key, it stays out until I put it back in (I leave my back door key selected at night so I can unlock the door quickly in an emergency)

Things I don't like:

  • It can be fiddly to slide out keys, esp with the USB drive
  • It can be difficult to get a carabiner to attach nicely (I clip my car key to the loop end of the leather)
  • You're limited to what you can attach, e.g. pocket tools (but I reckon you could attach a pry bar / bottle opener etc)

 

Show me yours!
If anyone makes their own, something similar, or has an improvement or addition to the design; post a reply!


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#2 Marc

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 04:33 PM

THANKS Glen, I'm going to give it a shot this weekend.  My girlfriend has a large Louis Vuitton hand-bag... I'm sure she's not going to miss a little strip of leather... And the LV logo will look great on my new key holder  :P  I may even make one for her!  LOL.  "Oh thanks honey, it even matches my bag!!!"


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#3 Chris Szaroleta

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 06:55 PM

Glen comes through in a big way.  This is SO AWESOME.  The Key Bar itself is already way cool, but the real win here is how Glen met the requests and posted the instructions WITH pics.  I guess it's just neat to see that we really take time from our day for this community.


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#4 Marc

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:03 PM

Hey Glen, do you have a name yet for your creation?  The GlenBar, the GlenKey, the Glenfiddich??  Oh wait, that's already taken  ;)


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#5 Mikey Bautista

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 08:16 PM

Glen delivers! Well done!


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#6 Chris Szaroleta

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 09:44 PM

Hey Glen, do you have a name yet for your creation?  The GlenBar, the GlenKey, the Glenfiddich??  Oh wait, that's already taken  ;)

 

Hahahahahaha!!!



#7 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 10:09 PM

Very cool Glen. I really like the format you laid out here.
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#8 Chris Doherty

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 10:15 AM

Nice guide Glen!



#9 Alester Lazar

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 06:23 AM

Very nice... I'll have to give something like this a go.



#10 Nick

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 03:46 PM

Nice idea!



#11 Marc

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 10:36 PM

I finally got around to building a couple of "GlenKey" holders today.  The first one is out of a narrow black belt, and I used the belt ring to attach it to my main key ring.

 

key_black1.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_black2.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_black3.jpg?noCache=1422847334

 

The second one I cut from from a wider belt.  I made the ring attachement from a nail - galvanized in this case but there are other options  :P I also added a flat screw driver tool that I had when I was a teenager, waaaaay back, that I just found recently.

 

key_tan1.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_tan2.jpg?noCache=1422848065


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#12 Duff72

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 10:56 PM

I finally got around to building a couple of "GlenKey" holders today.  The first one is out of a narrow black belt, and I used the belt ring to attach it to my main key ring.
 
key_black1.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_black2.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_black3.jpg?noCache=1422847334
 
The second one I cut from from a wider belt.  I made the ring attachement from a nail - galvanized in this case but there are other options  :P I also added a flat screw driver tool that I had when I was a teenager, waaaaay back, that I just found recently.
 
key_tan1.jpg?noCache=1422847334  key_tan2.jpg?noCache=1422848065


Nice work.
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#13 Glen

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 05:37 AM

 

I finally got around to building a couple of "GlenKey" holders today.

 

Those look great :-)

 

I like your solutions for attaching your car keys; I'll have to try something like that myself!  What hardware did you use to screw it together? It looks really flat and clean.


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#14 Marc

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 09:15 AM

Glen, I bought the screw at a fastener supplier here, it looks like this:

 

Customized_Steel_Furniture_Screws_Connec


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#15 Glen

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 10:24 AM

Glen, I bought the screw at a fastener supplier here, it looks like this:

Customized_Steel_Furniture_Screws_Connec

Nice one Marc; looks like the internet calls them bed bolts / connecting bolts / furniture bolts / socket nut with cap / furniture connecters and it looks like the M4 versions have a 5mm outer diameter, which is perfect. Do they stay tight? I must try one, let us know how they hold up!
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#16 Marc

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 10:39 AM

Only time will tell whether it stays tight or not.  I could add a bit of LocTite in the threads (or the poor man's version: finger nail polish) if I notice that it comes lose.  In version 2.0, I plan to add thin plastic washer in between each key, to add stickiness/friction so the bolt does not have to be too tight.


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#17 Adam Tracksler

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 07:29 PM

Nice one Marc; looks like the internet calls them bed bolts / connecting bolts / furniture bolts / socket nut with cap / furniture connecters and it looks like the M4 versions have a 5mm outer diameter, which is perfect. Do they stay tight? I must try one, let us know how they hold up!

They are called Chicago screws....


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#18 Glen

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Posted 03 February 2015 - 07:09 AM

They are called Chicago screws....

They are called sex bolts.....

 

Also (deep breath) Binding Posts, Chicago Screws, Interscrews, Barrel Bolts, Barrel Nut, Partition Screws, Door Closures Bolts, Furniture Screws, Panel Fasteners, Architectural Sex Bolts, Arch Series Screws, Hinge Screws, Display Fasteners, Screw Nuts, Connector Bolts, Threaded Rivets, Grommet Nuts, Post and Screw Sets, Book Screws, and Stationary Screws... apparently.


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#19 Ben

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Posted 16 February 2015 - 12:27 PM

Great, now I just added another project to my list. Good tutorial for sure.

Goes on my to do list right after 1911 trigger job and right before sanding a deck. I might have to rearrange the list with this snow!

I bet my local Ace hardware would have the Chicago screws, I have a few holsters that use them also, might be able to "borrow" a brass one.

I'm thinking Red Loctite also....


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#20 Glen

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Posted 16 February 2015 - 06:48 PM

I bet my local Ace hardware would have the Chicago screws, I have a few holsters that use them also, might be able to "borrow" a brass one.
I'm thinking Red Loctite also....


I didn't know red loctite or threadlocker was a thing, I'll have to experiment with you and Marc's suggestions!
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