Turning Spring-Loaded
Key Rings

Various styles of completed
key rings in exotic woods

Overview: As woodturners, we are indeed fortunate to be able to utilise very small pieces of timber that other woodworkers might consider waste. In my studio, I keep highly figured pieces of timber as small as 10mm for inlay project material. Short off-cuts from resawing pen blanks can also be used for project material. Small pieces of figured thin stock can be used for various inlay purposes.

Key keepers are simple projects to turn and are a good introduction to the basics of spindle turning on a mandrel, for beginning woodturners. Skills learned turning simple mandrel projects and working with bushings are easily adapted to turning more complicated projects like writing pens. In addition, these make good projects for selling at craft fairs and are popular as gifts for family and friends.

Key rings are available in a plethora of styles including spring-loaded, split ring with whistle, standard split, detachable double split, mini-pen, laser pointer, mini-knife, toothpick holder, compass, mini-nail clipper and pendant split to name a few. Key rings are typically turned on a single or double pen mandrel, or on a small sizing bushing for the pendant styles.


Selecting the Rough Stock for Key Rings

Most key rings are turned in the spindle mode, on a pen mandrel and require short blanks of varying size. The key ring blanks are usually turned in a side grain orientation, with the hole for the brass tube drilled lengthwise through the end grain.

Mandrel style blanks can also be turned from blanks cut on the bias, (blanks cut 45 degrees to the grain direction) offering yet another way to add interest and uniqueness to your key rings. Although bias cut blanks waste more wood than traditionally cut blanks, the results can be quite spectacular.

Pendant style key rings are turned on a small sizing mandrel held in a Jacob's style chuck

Numerous other materials can be used for key rings including antler, horn, synthetics, metals, polished stone cabochons (pendant styles) and many other materials. Because key rings are typically quite small, any highly figured timber chosen should have tight grain patterns for the best overall visual effect. Look for burr, crotch figure, curl, quilt, or good contrasting coloured patterns in your wood blanks. In addition, wild grain or spalted blanks with good zone line definition make excellent key ring blanks.

Various key ring blanks 3/4" x 3/4" x 2.125" (upper left to lower right): Cocobolo, Zebrawood, Leadwood, Olivewood, stabilized Eucalyptus, Yellow Crushed velvet, Dymondwood, stabilized Red Cedar, White Tail Deer Antler

Pendant style key rings are turned in the faceplate mode, on small sizing bushings held in a standard Jacob’s chuck that is secured in the headstock’s Morse taper. Both side grain and end grain blanks can be used for pendant key ring inlay blanks. Many exotics feature beautiful end grain patterns and offer the chance to use very thin off-cut scraps from the ends of turning squares, which have been used for other purposes.

Blanks for pendant style
key ring inlays

The most popular key rings sold in my studio’s up-market Premier Gifts line are the spring-loaded, detachable and whistle styles, turned from Cocobolo, Desert Ironwood, Amboyna burr, various stabilized burrs, Crushed Velvet, Decora and Deer, or Elk antler. These key rings retail for up to $75.00 USD, with an average selling price of $35.00 USD.


Turning Mandrel Style Key Rings

Key rings can be turned on either double (top) or single mandrels

Single key rings can also be turned on a double mandrel, but you will need several spacer bushings, or a tube spacer to properly tension the knurled nut at the end of the mandrel. Tube spacers can be easily made in several lengths from surplus pen tubes of the proper internal diameter covered with scrap wood for easier handling.

Mandrel style key rings can be turned on either a single, or a double pen mandrel. The short length of the body will easily fit onto a single mandrel. If you have a double mandrel and two sets of bushings, you can easily stack two blanks on a double mandrel and save a bit of time when doing long production runs.

Components for the whistle, standard and detachable key rings (top to bottom)


Blank Preparation for Key Rings

Components of the spring-loaded key ring kit with a Macassar Ebony blank

The internal brass tube on the spring-loaded key ring is approximately two inches long. Cut your rough blanks to 2.125", which will leave 1/16" of excess length on each end. The diameter of the rough blank is a matter of personal preference, but should be a minimum of ½" in diameter.

I prefer to use blanks that measure ¾" x ¾" x 2.125" long. The larger blanks allow for more robust body designs and can be easily converted into thinner designs if desired.


Drilling the Rough Blank for Key Rings

The Craft Supplies U.S.A Spring-Loaded key ring kit requires a 7mm hole to be drilled lengthwise through the entire blank. Mark the centre of the blank with a centre finder, or draw lines across the end of the blank connecting the corners. The intersection of the “X” is the rough centre of the blank. Secure the blank in an X-Y drill vise, or a drilling jig prior to drilling the hole for the brass tube.

Drilling the Macassar Ebony key ring blank with the bullet point drill. The blank is secured held in a drill press X-Y vice

Drill bits used to drill into endgrain timbers (from left): standard metal twist drill, parabolic drill (recommended), bullet point drill (recommended), brad pointed drill

When drilling into dense end grain timbers or antler, a bullet pointed drill bit will produce clean, straight and true holes. Parabolic style bit bits can also be used, however blanks that feature very wild grain, or those with significant differences in the density of the early and late wood may cause standard twist drill bits, or brad pointed bits to wander during drilling. This may cause the bit to blowout, split the blank, or veer off centre during drilling.

Insert a 7mm bullet pointed, or parabolic drill bit in the drill presses Jacob’s chuck and set the speed to approximately 500 revs. Slowly enter the top of the blank until the bit is stabilized in the hole. Once the bit has penetrated into the top of the blank, slowly pulse the drill in and out in short strokes to evacuate the chips and prevent excessive heat loading in the drilled hole. Most exotics are sensitive to heat and therefore, care must be taken to minimize heat during drilling.

In addition, some exotics produce sticky extractives that tend to clog the drill bit flutes with chips, or adhere to the sides of the bit increasing friction. To reduce the heat generated during drilling, occasionally direct a few short blasts of compressed air to remove accumulated chips on the flutes and cool the drill bit. If you will be drilling numerous blanks for a production run, a simple pneumatic cooling arm can be attached to the drill press table.

This allows a continuous stream of cooling air to be directed at the drill bit. In addition, the air stream helps to remove the chips as they are evacuated from the drilled hole in an expeditious manner. To prevent the bit form chipping out on the bottom of the blank, use a small piece of scrap wood under the blank.

Close-up of the drilling process

The scrap wood supports the bottom wood fibres and prevents chipped exit holes. Another method to prevent ragged exit holes is to cut your blanks slightly longer than necessary. When the blank has been drilled, cut the excess off near the end of the brass tube.

Once the hole has been drilled, direct a short blast of air down the drilled hole to remove any residual heat and debris left over from the drilling process. The blank is now ready to receive the brass tube. Before the tube is glued inside the drilled hole, the exterior of the tube should be lightly scuffed with 240, or 320-grit abrasive paper. This removes any existing tarnish and scratches the outer tube for better adhesive performance. The exterior of the tube should be bright and clean before applying the desired adhesive to the tube exterior.


Gluing the Brass Tube

Adhesives used to secure the brass tubes inside the drilled holes (from left): polyurethane glue, epoxy, thick CA, accelerator

Numerous adhesives can be used to secure the brass tubes inside the drilled holes. Thick cyanoacrylate may be used, but some exotics may cause premature curing of the adhesive, preventing correct insertion of the tube. If you prefer to use CA, swab the interior of the drilled holes with Acetone, to clean the surface and reduce the extractives present on the interior of the hole. After the Acetone has dried, you are ready to apply the CA onto the tube

Place three thin lines of thick setting CA adhesive equidistant around the tube and insert it into the drilled hole in a twisting and spinning motion. This helps to evenly distribute the CA on the inside of the hole. Lightly spray the end of the blank with accelerator to speed the curing of the thick viscosity CA adhesive. When the CA has cured, the blank is ready to mount on the mandrel.

Epoxy adhesive works very well to secure the tubes in the drilled hole, but the quick acting five-minute varieties may not leave enough time to insert more than a few tubes before the epoxy sets off. Slow setting epoxy provides more working time and produces a significantly stronger bond than the five-minute varieties produce. Long acting epoxies usually require several hours before the blanks can be turned.

If you prefer to use Epoxy, thoroughly mix a small amount exactly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply it to the tube sparingly with a small flat wooden stick, or an acid brush. Insert the tube into the hole with a twisting and spinning motion. Wipe and excess off the end of the blank and allow the epoxy to cure before proceeding. If some of the epoxy has gotten inside the tube, it can be easily removed with a pipe cleaner.

Completed spring-loaded key rings (from left): Ziracote, Desert Ironwood, Macassar Ebony, Mesquite with sapwood, Mesquite

Polyurethane adhesive is ready mixed and easy to apply with a small acid brush, or a wooden stick. It offers a long working time and produces an excellent bond. Polyurethane adhesive is moisture cured and will foam in the hole, filling any small voids for a through bond.

If you are turning synthetic, or metal bodies, swab the interior of the hole with water before inserting the glued tube. After applying the adhesive, remove any excess with a rag, or a pipe cleaner. I prefer to apply the adhesive one evening and turn the blanks the next morning to allow ample cure time before turning.


Squaring the Ends of the Tube

Pen mills are used to square the end of the blank relative to the tube

No matter which adhesive you choose to use, the end of the blanks will have to be squared relative to the tube. Pen mills are used to square the end of the blank to the tube and to remove any excess glue on the end of the blank, or the interior of the tube.

The pen mill can aggressively remove the endgrain and the brass tube therefore, use a light touch and stop milling once a uniformly bright brass tube has been revealed. If any dull spots are present, continue milling until the end is bright all the way around the end of the brass tube.

The pen mill can be used in a hand held drill, or a drill press. However the blank should be secured in a drill press vise, or jig prior to milling. Squaring the end of the blank to the tube is an important step to insure that the key ring components fit correctly once assembled.

Pen mills must be re-sharpened periodically to insure a clean-cut surface. If your mill is chattering whilst milling, remove the head (if possible) and use a fine diamond hone to sharpen the cutters.

Using a cordless hand drill to mill the ends of the Macassar Ebony blank

Close-up of the blank and brass tub after milling. The end of the brass tube should be uniformly bright

If you do not have a pen mill, the end of the blank can also be squared on a sanding station that allows the blank to be held in the correct 90-degree orientation.

Use a short blast of compressed air to clean the interior of the tube of any sanding debris and cool the endgrain surface. Once the blank has been squared, it is ready to mount on the mandrel.


Mounting and Turning the Body

Before mounting the mandrel in the headstock’s Morse taper, clean the taper with a short blast of compressed air, a brass brush, or a taper cleaner like Tapermate. Insert the mandrel into the Morse taper and check it for a proper fit.

Mandrel assembly mounted in the spindle of the Mercury mini-lathe

Carefully bring up the tailstock to within 5mm of the end of the mandrel and lock it to the lathe bed. The end of the mandrel features a recessed area that fits standard 60 degree live centre points. Gently advance the tailstock ram until it seats in the end of the mandrel.

My favorite micro turning tools from the UK's Henry Taylor (from left): 1/4" skew chisel, 1/4" spindle gouge, 1/8" spindle gouge

Once the tailstock is correctly seated, you are ready to begin turning the body of the key ring. Bring up the banjo and tool rest and rotate the blank by hand to insure that all four corners of the blank will clear the tool rest.

To round the rough blank over, I use a Henry Taylor ¼" micro spindle gouge with the lathe revs set to 3,975 rpm. If you prefer to turn at a lower speed, drop down to 1,000 revs. Start from left end of the blank and make light cuts toward the headstock.

Spring-loaded key ring blank mounted on the double mandrel with bushings and spacers

The spring-loaded key ring has two bushings, which allow fast sizing of the blank on the lathe. The top bushing goes on the mandrel first, then the key ring blank and then the bottom bushing. Add any spacers as necessary and tighten the brass-knurled nut by hand to secure the blank on the mandrel. Do not over tighten the brass nut, or the mandrel may bow.

Rounding over the blank at 3975 rpm with my favorite 1/4" Henry Taylor micro spindle gouge

Do not apply too much pressure on the tailstock ram, or it will cause the mandrel to bow. This requires a bit of finesse, as too much ram pressure may damage the mandrel and too little will allow the mandrel to vibrate.

Blank is fully rounded over, ready for initial body shaping


Turning the to bead with the 1/8" Henry Taylor spindle gouge

Once the blank has been rounded over, stop the lathe and readjust the tension on the brass knurled locking nut, as the rounding over process tends to over tighten the nut. Since the blank has been rounded over, only a slight amount of tension is necessary to prevent the blank from spinning on the mandrel when turning the body.

To turn the main portion of the body, I continue with the ¼" Henry Taylor micro spindle gouge and use the ¼" micro skew chisel and the 1/8" micro spindle gouge for adding fine details.

In the middle of the blank, switch to the opposite end and make light cuts from the right end of the blank towards the tailstock live centre. When you reach the middle, make a light pass to smooth and level the cylinder. A skew chisel, or small roughing gouge can also be used to round over the blank if desired.

Rough body work completed

Adding lower beads with 1/4" Henry Taylor micro skew chisel

In addition, most buyers prefer smooth, flowing designs that feel good when grasped in the hands. The length of the key ring body is quite small, but it still allows for creative expression in the design. Once the body has been completed you are ready to begin your abrasive protocol.

Since I like the look of beads on turnings, many of my designs feature turned beads. Use the bushings to correctly size the upper and lower portion of the key ring. Avoid any body designs that feature sharp edges as they will not hold up long with keys bashing into them, or when repeatedly tossed onto a dresser.

Body shaping completed, ready for abrasives


Abrasive Protocol

Using thin strips of Klingspor Gold abrasive to sand the body surface

To sand small items like these, I tear cloth backed flexible rolls of Klingspor Gold sandpaper into thin strips. Klingspor Gold abrasive was originally created to apply brushed textures to stainless steel.

It has been well received by the woodturning community because of the longevity and excellent cut produced by the abrasive. Thin strips are easier to handle than folded abrasives and their thin width allows easy sanding of the fine details on the body.

If you are not experienced with high speed sanding, drop down to a lower speed like 1200, or 500 rpm. However, even at lower speeds, you still need to be concerned with heat loading on the surface of the timber from the abrasive. Limit the sanding on any one area to a second or two at most, to prevent heat build-up on the surface.

Keep the strips of abrasive constantly moving up and down the body. This helps to reduce the occurrence of circular scratches on the surface that will compromise the ultimate finished surface. The surface on the spring-loaded key ring turned for this article is good enough to start sanding at 320-grit.

If your surface will not support this, drop down to a lower grit like 180 or 240-grit. A freshly sharpened gouge on the last pass, combined with proper bevel rubbing techniques will leave a finely burnished surface that will reduce the need for course abrasives.

After every grit change, clean the surface with a short blast of compressed air or tack rag

The finished surface after finish sanding

After each grit has been completed, reverse the lathe (if possible) for the next grit. Reversing the lathe with every other grit produces a more finely sanded surface by preventing the tiny fibres on the surface from “laying down” in one direction.

In addition to reversing the lathe, use a short blast of compressed air to remove any residual grit, or dust on the surface of the timber, before proceeding to the next grit. In lieu of compressed air, a tack rag can be used to clean the surface before proceeding up the grit range.

After lightly sanding with the 320-grit, 400-grit abrasive was used to complete the abrasive sequence. Do not skip any grits in the abrasive sequence for best results.

The finished surface after burnishing with #0000 oil-free wire wool


Burnishing the Surface of Key Rings

For high gloss lustre, sand the surface to at least 400-grit metric before burnishing the surface with Arbortech’s Burnishing Wax. This specialty wax contains an ultra fine abrasive compound (2-5 microns) suspended in a museum grade, microcrystalline wax base.

Most customers prefer a very high lustre on gift items like these and burnishing waxes are the simplest way to achieve a mirror finish on the surface of the timber, prior to applying the finish. The surface can also be wet sanded to a 1200 or 2000 grit level, but I have found burnishing waxes produce a superior surface without the usual mess associated with wet sanding.

Applying the Arborwax burnishing wax to finely cut back the surface and increase the overall luster

To use Arbortech Burnishing wax, clean the surface of the timber with a short blast of compressed air, or a tack rag. With a small piece of folded kitchen paper, apply a small amount of the burnishing wax to the surface of the kitchen paper.

With the lathe set to high revs, gently apply the burnishing wax impregnated paper to the spinning timber surface. Work the paper back and forth a couple of times to evenly spread the wax over the surface.

Within a few seconds of application, you will feel the paper begin to “drag” a bit. At this point, the solvent (White Spirit) has flashed off and the compound is ready to cut the surface back. Use the same spot on the folded paper and apply a slight pressure to the surface of the timber. Move the paper up and down the surface two to three times to allow the compound to cut the surface back.

Fold the paper to an unused section and reapply the burnishing wax in the above manner at least two to three times, or more if a highly lustrous surface is desired. When you are satisfied with the lustre, use a fresh portion of the towel to buff the surface and remove any residual compound. The surface is now ready for application of the chosen finish.


Finishing Options for Key Rings

If you have used a commercially stabilised piece of timber, it is not necessary to apply any finish to the surface. Stabilised timbers are fully impregnated with acrylic, or epoxy and can be polished to a very high lustre by using Arborwax Burnishing Wax.

Completed whistle key rings (from left): Violet Rosewood, stabilized Eucalyptus, Leadwood

Completed whistle key rings (from left): Violet Rosewood, stabilized Eucalyptus, Leadwood. Since the finish is impregnated in the timber, there is no surface finish to wear off during use. Stabilised timbers are my first choice for key rings because they hold up so well in the harsh conditions key rings are exposed to on a regular basis.

For untreated timbers, several options exist. Key rings typically see a great deal of wear and tear and therefore, your finish should provide a long-term durable surface finish. Penetrating Epoxy, thick CA and Catalysed Lacquer all produce long wearing surface finishes.

Epoxy produces the most durable finish in my testing, but it requires two days to complete. Thick CA produces a highly lustrous finish, but it can be difficult to apply evenly on some timbers and can excessively darken light coloured timbers.

Catalysed Lacquer produces a longwearing finish, but it is typically only used in professional woodturning studios. Pre-Catalysed Lacquers offer a durable finish and are significantly easier to use by hobby woodturners than user-catalysed lacquers.

Shellac based friction finishes like Shellawax and Mylands High Build Friction Finish can be used and offer the advantage of a quick and lustrous finish. Oil finishes can also be used, but many require several coats to be applied over the course of a few days to produce an acceptable surface finish.

Waxes should not be used, as they cannot withstand the abuse key rings experience in daily use. The spring-loaded key ring turned for this article was finished with Shellawax Cream.

Various finishes suitable for key rings

Applying the Shellawax cream finish to the key ring body

As you work your way down the body of the key ring, you will see the lustre develop. Slight pressure and friction are required to properly set the finish and raise the lustre. Once you have finished the piece, cut the surface back with the Arborwax Burnishing Wax to raise the overall lustre and increase the uniformity of the reflective surface. At this point, you may stop, or reapply the Shellawax to increase the lustre even further.

To apply the Shellawax, fold a small section of kitchen paper and apply a small amount to the folded paper. Apply this to the piece with the lathe off, making sure to cover the piece uniformly. Turn the lathe to high revs and using the same piece of impregnated paper, apply friction to the spinning piece.

After the final application of Shellawax, cut the surface back with the Arbortech Burnishing wax. When you are satisfied with the lustre, remove it from the mandrel carefully to prevent unnecessary strain on the mandrel shaft. The body is now ready to be assembled with the components from the kit.

The completed surface after final finishing


Assembly Tips for Key Rings

Lay out the components from the key ring kit and identify the following parts: the wire key loop, loop cap, Artisan ring, spring, bright spacer, cap nut and end cap. To assemble the spring-loaded key ring, grasp the wire key loop and slide the loop cap on first, followed by the spring and the bright spacer onto the wire loop.

Small quick acting grips can be used to assemble most key rings

Secure these onto the wire loop with the cap nut, which threads onto the end of the wire loop. Using an arbour press, or Quick Grip type clamp with non-marring jaws, press the end cap into the bottom of the key ring body.

A small wooden block is used to install the top of the wire loop into the top of the key ring. To make the clamping block, cut a thin 1/8" wide kerf in a small wooden block approximately 1" deep. Insert the wire loop into the kerf cut into the wooden block and press the wire loop into the top of the key ring.

The spring-loaded key ring is now complete and ready for use. Non-marring pads must be used to assemble the components, or the metal finish may be damaged.

To open the key ring, pull the wire loop straight out and turn it 90 degrees. The loop cap will prevent the wire loop from retracting and will allow the easy addition or removal of keys. To lock the wire loop, turn it 90 degrees again and it will retract and lock in place.

The spring on this key ring is quite strong and will easily accommodate a full ring of keys without falling open. This style of key ring is popular with ladies as opening and closing it will not damage manicured nails.

Completed spring-loaded key ring in Macassar Ebony


Turning Pendant Style Key Rings

Pendant style key rings feature a small, ¾" diameter inlay that fits into a recessed area on the front of the key ring. Pendant blanks can be turned from side grain, or end grain timbers. Although my 10" table saw is outfitted with a thin kerf blade, I prefer to resaw the blanks on a bandsaw. The table saw leaves a surface that is ready to mount on the sizing bushing however, even with the thin kerf blade, it wastes more timber than using a bandsaw blade. The bandsaw produces a very thin kerf, but the surface is not ready to mount on the bushing due to the rough surface left by the band.

To smooth the surface and prepare it for mounting, sand the surface smooth on a rotary sanding disk. The front of the disk can be left rough, as it will be turned away during finish turning of the inlay. This creates a very smooth surface that is ready to mount in the pendant inlay area after the top of the disk has been turned and finished.

The rough disks for the pendant inlays should be resawn into 3/16" – 1/8" thick disks, approximately 1" square. Sand one side smooth on 320-grit paper attached to a sanding disk, mounted in a drill press with the speed set to 500 revs. If you prefer, resaw the disks on a table saw, which will eliminate the additional sanding step. The inlays are turned with double stick adhesive tape and therefore require one smooth, clean side for attaching to the bushing. Swab the smooth side with Acetone if necessary to remove any residual oils that may compromise the bond strength of the double-faced adhesive.

Install the correct sizing bushing in a Jacob’s chuck mounted in the headstock’s Morse taper. Swab the face of the sizing bushing with Acetone to clean the surface prior to mounting the double-faced tape on the surface of the bushing. Remove a small piece of double-faced tape and press it onto the front surface of the bushing. Trim any excess with a sharp craft knife, or single edge razor blade. Once the excess has been removed, the front protective covering can be removed. The surface of the bushing is now ready for mounting the disk.


Mounting and Turning the Body on Key Rings

The sizing bushings allow the tiny inlay’s to be produced quickly and accurately, without the need to measure for a proper fit in the recess area. The inlays can also me manually sized with callipers, or a simple “go, no-go” jig. Take the smooth, cleaned rough inlay and roughly centre the piece on the front of the taped bushing.

Double-faced adhesive requires pressure to reach its full bond strength. This can be easily accomplished using the tailstock, outfitted with a rubber, or wood spacer to cover the exposed live centre point.

Bring up the tailstock and cover the live centre point with a small turned wood, or hard rubber spacer. These spacers provide excellent protection against damage by the live centre point. Only light pressure on the tailstock ram is required to secure the adhesive.

I prefer to leave the tailstock in place, whilst rounding over the rough inlay. This offers added protection against separation of the inlay from the double-faced tape during the round over phase. To round over the inlay disks, I use a ¼" Henry Taylor micro spindle gouge that features an extended wing, fingernail grind.

This is a bowl gouge grind, adapted for use on a spindle gouge. It allows the front of the gouge to be used as a traditional spindle gouge and the wings to be used to shear scrape the face of the pendant, if desired. Lathe revs are set to 3, 975 rpm for roughing, turning and finishing.

Tip: Care must be taken whilst rounding over very thin disks, as many of the exotic timbers can become brittle in thin sections. Take small light cuts with your spindle gouge until the corners have been removed.

Once the inlay disk has been rounded over, remove the tailstock and begin reducing the outer diameter to match the required maximum diameter of the sizing bushing. Once the outer diameter has been reduced to the correct diameter, turn your attention to the front of the inlay.

Completed pendant key rings (from left): Kingwood, Cocobolo

These pendant inlays can be turned to numerous styles and shapes, but I have found the most popular styles feature a rounded domed surface, or a slight crown with a rounded rim. Slightly less popular, is a flat face with a rounded rim.

The front of the inlay is turned with the ¼" Henry Taylor micro spindle gouge when rough shaping the body and the 1/8" Henry Taylor micro spindle gouge for the final shaping and detail work. When adding very small details, a 3/32" micro spindle gouge is used with a steep fingernail grind. I prefer to sharpen my micro turning tools on a Tormek Wet Grinding stone, instead of a dry grinder.

The small amount of metal used to make the shafts of micro turning tools is removed too quickly on high and slow speed dry grinders. Once the tools are sharpened on the Tormek, they are honed to produce a mirror bevel.

The Tormek system creates an exceptional edge that burnishes the surface of the inlay, reducing the abrasive protocol significantly. This is especially important when working with heat sensitive exotics in very thin cross sections. In addition, it saves time and abrasive papers.


Finishing Options for Key Rings

The pendant inlays are finished in the same manner as the spring-loaded key rings. Once the pendant inlay has been turned and finished, take a sharp pointed craft knife and insert it between the back of the inlay and the front of the double-faced tape.

Gently pry the wood disk from the surface of the double-faced tape. If you are careful, the double-faced tape can be reused numerous times, saving mounting time and tape costs.

Completed detachable key ring in Leadwood


Assembly Tips for Key Rings

Completed standard key rings (from left): Myrtle burr, Box Elder burr, Yew, Birdseye Maple, Blue crushed Velvet

The back of the inlay disk and the inlay recess area should be swabbed with Acetone before applying the mounting adhesive. Once the Acetone has dried (a few seconds), the surfaces are ready for the adhesive. For best results, use a flexible when cured adhesive like E-6000 to secure the inlay in the pendant recess. Swab a small amount of the E-6000 on the back of the inlay with a small wooden stick, or the end of a cotton swab.

Use the adhesive sparingly as any excess will squeeze out onto the face of the inlay. Once the inlay has been pressed into the pendant recess, gently twist the inlay to evenly spread the adhesive on the rear of the inlay. Lay the pendant flat until the adhesive has cured. Once the adhesive has fully cured, the pendant key ring is ready to use.


Safety Concerns

Although key rings are quite small, they still present the need to wear adequate protection when turning, sanding and finishing. Full-face shields are preferable to safety glasses, as they provide more protection for the face and front of the head. When sanding, wear an adequate dust filter mask, or a respirator outfitted with a P-100 level dust filter.

When finishing, wear suitable chemical resistant gloves when applying or mixing finishes for use on the lathe and if necessary, wear a respirator outfitted with the appropriate organic vapour cartridge to handle any toxic fumes that may be present.

Although these seem like basic safety measures that everyone should know, I still see turners regularly using little, or no protection when turning, sanding and finishing items on the lathe. Let’s all redouble our efforts to practice our art in a safe manner.

Various key ring styles (from left): pendant, detachable, whistle, spring-loaded, standard


Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.


Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.

Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.

Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.