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Another item that sells well in the homemade realm is hand stamped keys. I like this project because it is low cost and simple. Here is how we do it.
Step 1: Buy some old keys. We usually look to EBay for this. There is no shortage of sellers and typically the more you are willing to buy the cheaper it is per key. You can get random mixed lots of vintage keys, skeleton keys, new uncut keys, or any type of key that unlocks (pun intended) your creative side.
Step 2: Decide on a word. I find that 4 letter words are about the max for most keys using an 1/8 inch stamping set. If you need a stamping set pretty much any hardware or tool supply will have them. I find the Pittsburgh set from Harbor Freight works just fine and is low cost. Some keys will hold 5 letters but 4 is the norm. The other option is to go smaller on your letters but in my opinion going smaller makes it hard to read. Don’t be afraid to experiment, there is no right or wrong. Once I decide on a word I like to use some tape to hold the stamps together. Way easier than trying to line them up one at a time while stamping the keys. Make sure your word is arranged properly (backwards if you are looking at the letters on the stamps) so it reads correctly once stamped.
Step 3: Time to stamp the key. If you don’t have a bench top press now is the time! This little press works great, I think it was $40.00 (also at Harbor Freight) and it will last you a life time. I arrange my key and stamps (stamps taped together) in my press and just squeeze it down a little but not hard enough to make any marks on the key. This makes sure all my stamps are lined up with each other and where I want them on the key. Once everything is where it should be I give a few good strikes on the top of the press with a small hand held sledge hammer. This takes a little trial and error figuring out how hard to hit it and how many times. I hit it twice but I might swing a little harder than you. Maybe you’re big and jacked like The Rock and you just need to give it one little tap? You’ll figure it out on the first few keys. If you don’t want to get a press the flat anvil part of a vise works okay.
Step 4: Finish it up. You can finish however you want. Leave it rusty, hit it with a wire wheel and mak it shine, paint it, etc. Finishing is a personal choice and again, therevis no right or wrong here. I like to color over my word with a black sharpie marker and then hit it up with some steel wool. Gives it a little shine but keeps some patina on there, it is a vintage key after all. Put them on some ribbon or a leather necklace and you are good to go. Or just throw them in a bucket and let people dig thru at there discretion. We like to display them on an ornament tree.
That’s all there is to it! Vintage hand stamped keys. I hope this was helpful. If you enjoyed the post feel free to like and share. Keep checking back, there is a lot more DIY coming.