7 Ways To Reuse Old Keys

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Aug 23, 2013 | Sayward Rebhal

Photo: Melodi2/morguefile.comThey’re everywhere. We all have them. Maybe they’re still attached to our key ring, bulking it up and weighing it down. Or they’re hanging by the front door, ugly and useless. Or they’re shoved in the junk drawer. Just lying around. Collecting dust.

When it comes to old keys, we’ve usually forgotten what they open, what they belong to, or where they ever came from in the first place. Or maybe we remember, but we’ve just moved on -- from our previous apartment and into our new home built by a Baltimore-based contractor, from our old car, from that last relationship, and so we have the keys, including that extra set we kept for guests. Maybe after a handyman has helped rekey the locks he hands the keys over, and we're not sure what to do with them. We’re hesitant to throw them away, even though we know they’re really just taking up space. Right?

Creative repurposing to the rescue! Because there’s a reason we hold onto keys -- they have a certain magic, a certain mystery about them. Keys seem special, and important. They evoke feelings of possibility and of strength and maybe even romance. Keys are iconic, which makes them ideal candidates for creative repurposing. Here are seven of the best ideas out there:

1. Capitalize on that whimsy, and make a gorgeous key wind chime for your window or garden. This tutorial will show you how to create a wind chime that’s easy to make and adorable to look at.

2. Conversely, you can ignore the aesthetic value of keys and put them to good, practical use. As weights! They are made from metal after all, so they work perfectly as lightweight mass. Sew a few keys into the corners of your outdoor tablecloths, to keep them down when the wind picks up. Or, sew them into the seems of window or shower curtains to keep them draping correctly.

3. Keeping with the “practical” theme, here’s a fantastic idea: you can file the end of a key down flat, to make a mini, portable screwdriver! Genius, right?

4. If you have kids (or know any kids) keys make for perfect craft items. Children have the same curious fascination with keys that adults have -- maybe even more so because of the power they represent. Regardless, kids love keys and they’re perfect for art projects, musical instruments, or games.

5. You can turn keys into custom charms! As jewelry, keys are always popular -- it's that same magic and mystery factor, I guess. Leave them silver or brass for a vintage-y, steam punk-y effect. Or, you can paint them fun colors (like school colors or team colors) to show a little spirit!

6. Don’t forget you can always decorate with keys, turning them into artful objects that also serve a purpose. I’m thinking embellished picture frames, or magnets, or more, like this fantastic mirror.

7. And finally, I love the irony of this project as much as I love the look -- a key rack made out of old keys! It’s super cute, and a super easy tutorial as well.

So there you go, 7 exciting ideas to help you clear out the clutter of those old keys. But hey, maybe you’re not feeling crafty? That’s okay -- remember that keys can always be recycled in the mixed metals bin at your local recycling center.

Got any other great ideas for reusing keys? Let us know in the comments below!

Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx.com.

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