Penmaking articles Penmaking Tips
Secret Compartment Key Chain

Secret Compartment Key Chain

by Joseph M. Herrmann of Timber Treasures
Reprinted by permission from Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine

only to remove enough material to expose the ends of the tube. Work slowly; you will be able to hear a definite change in the sound once the disc contacts the metal tube. Remount the blank on the mandrel. (Note: Steebar sells a 10mm barrel trimmer specifically for the 10mm tubes: No. PK-1129, $17.80.)
Measure in 1" from each end. Turn a large bead shape that connects the left-hand line with the outside of the bushing. Remember, a bead is curved, not tapered! Be careful not to undercut the bushing. I find that a sharp skew works best for this procedure, but it can be done with a gouge as well. Whatever you do, don’t “scrap” the shape into the blank. Most likely, it will chip and tear and will be very difficult to sand. Turn the other end in a similar manner, this time starting at the right-hand pencil mark. You will have a short, 1/4" wide section remaining that will be blended into the beads during the sanding operation.

Turn the blank round, hopefully to around 5/8" in diameter.

Measure in 1" from the ends of the blank. This marks the starting point for the two beads which make up the project’s shape.

Sanding and finishing
Although the key chain can be sanded by hand, I prefer to powersand it. I use a padded, Velcro sanding system and start with a 320-grit disc. I finish up with a 400-grit disc. It took less than 10 SECONDS to sand the project using this method.
I like to apply a liberal coat of Danish oil to my blank, wait several moments and then wipe off all the excess oil. I find that toilet paper works great for this…so much so, that I actually mounted an inexpensive toilet paper roll holder on my lathe!

I usually allow the blanks to dry for several hours, preferably overnight. Then I use the three step buffing process that I’ve detailed in other articles: The first wheel is charged with a Tripoli compound. Tripoli is slightly abrasive and will remove any superficial scratches that remain. The second wheel is charged with a White
Diamond compound that removes any excess Tripoli and begins the polishing process. The third wheel is charged with Carnuba Wax, which polishes the project to a high shine.

Beads are formed. The straight center section will be blended in during the sanding operation.

Pre-assemble the ring, upper cap, and the threaded bushing and press it into place with the pen assembly press. Press in the bottom cap in the same manner.

Assemble the parts
Attach the key ring to the upper cap and screw it into the upper stop. I like to pre-assemble these parts because I think that it makes it easier to line them up with the grain in the wood. Decide whether you want these parts either parallel or perpendicular to the grain
and line up the parts accordingly. Press them into the tube with the Steebar pen press. Attach the bottom stop in the same manner.
I fill the tubes with round, wooden toothpicks because I market them as toothpick holders. But I tell people that they can be used for needle cases as well. I sell them in the $12.00 to $15.00 range, depending on from what material the blank is turned. Again, know your market!

<Previous 1, 2, 3

On we provide you with pen making instruction and tips to make a satisfying hobby even more enjoyable. You will find a complete line of Pen making kits, supplies and turning tools on If there's something you can't find just send us an email and we'll be glad to point you in the right direction. Don't forget to stop by our wood working craft site

You may also be interested in our Clock Parts and Clock Making Supplies...