How to Wind-up Key

So, it’s been a while… stress filled senior year of college.  Anyway,  I’ve received a lot of comments asking for a tutorial on how to make this key for a Halloween costume I had made a while ago.  I had started to create a tutorial for this but I ended up moving and all that stuff got packed away, but I just so happened to find all my stuff the other day, so I figured I’d throw this post up before Halloween so hopefully you guys can make yours in time. :)

The parts:

All the parts

Here are the parts for the wind up key.

A few inches of dowel (really the length and size of the dowel are up to you.  I used what I had, which is a 1/4″ dowel which I cut to be 2 1/2″ long.  You’ll need to drill a small hole into one side of the dowel in order to fit the metal rod of the wind up mechanism.  I used a small drill kit that I bought from the local hardware store that looked like a screwdriver but with interchangeable drill-bit head things.   Be slow with this part, or you may split the wood like I did.  Don’t panic if you do though, it should be okay once we glue it all up.

The next thing you’ll need is a piece of foam core board cut to resemble a wind up key.  Cut the little notch at the bottom to be the same width as your dowel.  In my case it’s 1/4″.  I imagine you can use something other than foam core board, but you just need to make sure it’s lightweight, or else it will bog down the tiny wind up mechanism we’re using.

Speaking of, the third thing you’ll need is the wind up mechanism.  To get it, I took apart a dollar store wind up toy.  Usually there’s a little piece of plastic at the end of the metal rod that makes it easier to turn with your fingers that you need to remove so you can stick it in the dowel.  I just used some pliers and squeezed it a bunch until it broke off.

The epoxy

I used some quick drying epoxy to glue everything together.  You need to make sure to use some heavy duty stuff because people will be cranking that thing all night and you don’t want it to start falling apart on you.  If you choose to use epoxy, be sure to do so in a well ventilated area because this stuff reeks!

Epoxying in progress.

Here it is, now attached to the mechanism.  Be careful not to drop epoxy or glue down into the mechanism or else it may screw up the gears and whatnot inside and it won’t work anymore.  As mentioned before, I had split the wood somewhat during the drilling progress, so here I also squished some epoxy down into the crack to make it stronger.

Finished!

And here it is painted.  I just used some craft paints on this one.  The very first one I did was spray painted, so really it’s up to you on how you want to do it.  If you spray paint it though, be sure to tape up the mechanism really well beforehand.  Or you could just paint it before you attach the mechanism.

Now, when I used this in a costume I ended up carefully duct taping the mechanism onto a piece of cardboard(to help stabilize it) that was a little smaller than the width of my back and a few inches high, then I proceeded to duct tape the cardboard onto the tank top I was wearing.  I literally duct taped this thing onto me for the whole night(it was hidden under my corset thing), but that was the best I could come up with at the time.  If anyone else has any better ideas on how to wear this thing please let me know, it would be much appreciated! Thanks :)

Hope this helps you guys out!

12 thoughts on “How to Wind-up Key”

  1. Thanks for this tutorial! I had found another link for a key but it was just too cumbersome. I have a week….so hopefully I can make this in time….whole lot easier and I have a wind up toy already! yay!

  2. This is very original. I’d have never thought of doing something like that.
    But, I’d say sanding town the edges of the foam with a light grit sandpaper before painting to make the edges of the key a little more clean.

  3. You are a goddess! Too late for Halloween, but the key is perfect for a children’s recital piece (sans windup mechanism) that fits my idea perfectly! Also, I’d make one for myself anyways and randomly wear it just to see people’s reactions, lol! THANK YOU!!

  4. Thanks so much! I was overthinking how I was going to build it (gears and springs, etc) but I never thought to use an actual windup toy! Haha! Also, I attached mine to a belt with gaff tape so it was easy to wear. Thanks again!

  5. Where did you get the mechanism for the wind up key? I would like to do this as well for a few of my costumes but I can’t find the correct wind up part. If you can, send me a message at andromedalazuli@gmail.com so that I know you answered me. Thanks!

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