How to Bend Keys for Crafts (Without Breaking Them)

If you're like most people, you have some old keys lying around, and you can't recall what they go to. Some might even be nice to look at, and the idea of tossing them seems wasteful. You would love to repurpose them, but to do so, you need to bend them. You're worried about them breaking. We've gathered some information and compiled it for you step-by-step to help you bend those keys without breaking them.

Bending keys without breaking them for crafts can be tricky, especially if the key in question is rather old. There are a few different steps to take, and they can vary depending on what type of key you are bending and its intended purpose. The basic steps are as follows:

  • Prepare your tools and safety equipment
  • Heat the key (optional)
  • Bend the key using pliers and/or a vice grip

Although these steps seem simple, there are definite caveats to bending keys, which are known to break easily. Read on to find all the ins and outs of successfully bending keys for crafts all while keeping them in one piece!

Room keys placed on key holders on a wooden wall, How to Bend Keys for Crafts (Without Breaking Them)

Steps For Bending Keys

Let's take a closer look at each step in the process of bending keys without breaking them.

Prepare Your Tools and Safety Equipment

As touched on above, old, antique keys are prone to breaking. If these keys have a lot of value to you, you will want to obtain the appropriate tools to maintain their integrity. Before attempting to bend these older keys, we recommend having a blow torch, a pair of pliers, and a vice grip if at all possible.

View this vice grip on Amazon.

Although you might not have considered ever owning a blow torch in the past, they are actually great for a variety of fun projects and can be purchased inexpensively. The best blow torches are powered by propane, which is also inexpensive and easy to obtain.

View this blow torch on Amazon.

It's also important to note that when using extreme heat and flame, the proper fireproof gloves and safety goggles should be worn as well. A blow torch isn't 100% necessary to bend your keys, but it does significantly lower the risk of them breaking, if not eliminate it.

Make sure you have everything set up and ready to go: key firmly in the vice grip (held by the larger end of the key), pliers within distance, blow torch fueled, and safety equipment on your body.

Heat The Key (Optional)

Lightly mark the spot from which you want to make the bend on your key using a soapstone pencil if desired. If making more of a curve as opposed to a straight angle, you might want to mark an area instead of just one line. Using the blow torch, direct the flame at the spot you want to bend, or the area you want to curve. Heat the key until the spot begins to glow. Turn off the torch and set it aside.

View soapstone pencils on Amazon.

Bend The Key

Using the pliers with a firm, uniform pressure, bend the key. Don't try to bend it too quickly. Allow the key to cool completely before disturbing it. If wearing fire and heatproof gloves, you can bend the key by applying pressure with your hand; however, pliers are the best option.

If bending the key without applying heat to it first, just use the pliers to bend the key slowly and gently while it is held by the vice grip.

Alternative Method

Don't want to buy all the tools involved just to bend your keys? If you don't have or wish to purchase a vice grip, this can be attempted with two pairs of pliers, though results might vary. Simply place the top of the key in one set of pliers and grip tightly while using the other set to apply even pressure to the bottom half of the key.

If all you have is one pair of pliers, you can attempt to bend the key by holding the large end in the pliers and using a hard surface to bend the bottom half. We don't recommend bending keys with sentimental value unless you are using the heating method first.

View this set of pliers on Amazon.

What Kinds Of Crafts Can You Make With Keys?

There is no limit to the number of projects you can create using old keys. One of the most popular projects to create is a key holder made of bent keys. This project is not only useful but also a clever conversation starter to have in your home. View the tutorial below to find out how to make your own key holder using the keys you have chosen:

Outside of a key holder, there are numerous other crafts to be made with keys.

  • Bend keys into a full circle and fashion a ring.
  • Make an interesting wind chime.
  • Put the key on a chain and make a necklace. Paint or glam up the key however you'd like.
  • Bend the keys into unique patterns and seal them in resin to make coasters, bowls, trays, etc.
  • Press the keys into clay to make interesting patterns. The clay can be fired and painted and used as plates or bowls.
  • Use small keys as charms for a charm bracelet, or bend longer keys for a bracelet.
  • Paint or bend keys and glue magnets to the back to jazz up your refrigerator.
  • Make a rustic chandelier for the dining room.
  • Grab your kids and use keys to make homemade holiday ornaments.
  • If you have a handful of keys with sentimental value, use them to make a keepsake, such as a shadow box with the keys as the focal point.

Where Can You Get Keys For Crafts?

Many hobby stores sell vintage-looking skeleton keys, and most sell them in bulk. Places like Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and even Wal-Mart sell keys for crafts. If you're looking mainly online, places like Etsy, Wish, and Amazon sell keys for crafts as well.

Click here to view these keys on Amazon.

For actual antique keys, places like flea markets and secondhand stores are great places to search. Thinking outside the box, you could even visit estate sales, construction, and/or restoration companies who might have vintage keys lying around. There definitely isn't a shortage of these types of supplies for your crafts!

Can You Duplicate A Bent Key?

If you find yourself in a situation where you have a bent key but still need a copy made, do not despair. Most professionals can make a duplicate, or "cut" a bent key. If this is an important key, like one to your car, any locksmith worth their salt can still get a duplicate made, though if the key has to be coded this can cost you.

There are very rare instances in which the key cannot be duplicated. It is important to have every part of the key available to the locksmith who will copy it. If pieces are missing, things become more complicated. The price of copying the key can go up according to how much effort goes into it. In most cases, if the pieces are all there and as intact as they can be, the duplicate shouldn't cost any more than a regular copy would.

In Closing

Bending keys for crafts without breaking them can be a tricky project but is definitely possible with the right tools. There is a little effort involved to gather all the necessary tools but being successful is worth the prep work. Be sure to grab those pliers, vice grip, and hopefully a blow torch and get to work creating something unique and inspiring. Enjoy!

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