Key Chain Holder

Always losing your keys? Make this key chain holder from pallets and you will never misplace them again.

I could tell you an interesting story or two about misplaced keys.... Like the time we drove over 300 miles and then discovered we didn't have the keys to our tow vehicle. They were still at home, instead of with us. Duh. Then again, they could have been at home hanging in the key chain holder. Although that wouldn't have done us much good, at least we would have known where they were! Instead, we had to send our daughter on a wild goose chase, looking in places where they MAY have been. Lucky for us she found them. 


Age: Adult

Difficulty: Medium

Time Scale: 3 out of 5


  • 5 1/2 inch Wide pallet boards (weathered) 
  • 3 1/4 inch wide pallet boards (weathered)
  • 8 foot long 1x2
  • 3- 1 inch hinges with screws
  • Magnetic cupboard latch
  • 12 Small cup hooks
  • Screwdriver
  • small Nails
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Medium grit Sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Saw (can use handsaw. Easier with jigsaw or circular saw, mitre saw even better)
  • Driftwood  2 pieces: one about 5 inches long and flat. One curved piece about 5 -6 inches long.
  • Elmers white glue or any white glue that dries clear
  • Wood glue
  • picture hanging kit with wire and small nails
  • Antique white paint
  • Burnt umber paint
  • Gel medium
  • Small plastic container
  • Paint brush
  • Soft rag or paper towel

Use the saw of your choice or what is at your disposal. This may have to be a handsaw. Good for you for your energy and determination. If you are using a handsaw, a mitre box will be helpful.

The best tool for the job is a sliding compound mitre saw. I realize not everyone has one of those hanging around. You can even use a jigsaw or circular saw.

Who knew that losing the measurements that I wrote on a silly envelope would bring up a big discussion about trigonometry and the golden ratio. I don't know anything about trigonometry and I really don't like math. The golden ratio? Never heard of it. Really, I think I am an example of someone that can be totally inept at math and still be capable of doing a project that is math related. Did I wing it? Well, yes I sure did. This is a great way to build with less stress, when you can't stand math. Sometimes, I cut a piece of wood and hold the other piece against it to get the right length, rather than relying on the tape measure.

These measurements  are just a guideline. Your key chain holder can be adjusted to the size of pallets available to you. Add extra height, if you have a ton of keys. This will hold 12 key rings on the cup hooks, plus some extra keys can sit in the bottom.

How to Make a Key Chain Holder

Cut two 5 1/2 inch wide pallet boards to a 45 degree peak on one end of each so the total length is 19 1/2 inches.

Place the 1x2’s on edge and cut the 45 degree angle to match the angle on the peak of the pallet boards. The total length of the 1x2’s should be 16 1/2 inches. This measurement should equal the length on the side of the pallet boards that you just cut. If not, just fix it so they are. Simple.

Use medium grit sandpaper to sand any rough edges.

Glue and use small nails to attach the 1x2’s to the back inside of one of the pallet boards. This will be for the back of the key chain holder.


Cut four 1x2’s so they fit horizontally inside the vertical 1x2's. One at the top and bottom and the other two evenly spaced in between. They should be almost 4 1/4 inches long. I know you are thinking "ALMOST? Are you kidding me?" Yeah, well just check it and see. If the pallet boards you used are not the exact measurement of the ones I used, then the measurements won't be the same.

Before gluing and nailing in place, screw 4 cup hooks, spaced evenly, into the center on the underside of the top and middle pieces. Now this is going to sound silly, but remove them. It is easier to make the holes now, before gluing the pieces in place. Take them out for now, so they aren't in the way for painting. 


Now measure up 2 1/2 inches from the bottom of the other board that has the peak on it. Mark a horizontal line and cut straight across here. Save this bottom piece.

Make another line 12 inches up from this one and cut straight across.

Glue and nail the peak and the bottom piece in place.  Make sure the middle piece fits properly. This will be for the door. Don't glue that on! This will be attached later with hinges, but wait until after painting.


Use a smaller pallet board that is 3 1/4 inches wide, for the roof.  Cut one 5 inches long and the other longer, by only the thickness of the board. Put the one shorter piece on even with the roof and the longer one overlapping this one, at the top. The boards should be even with the back of the key chain holder and overhang slightly on the front. Glue and nail in place.


I guess I should mention that I used a brad air nailer. It is a little paslode. It makes things so much easier! You can use a good old hammer and nails, but an air nailer saves a lot of time. I kind of feel like I cheated, making this project!

Let the glue dry.

Now my favorite part... The crackle paint job on the key chain holder. This method is so much cheaper than using the crackle medium from the craft store. It works better too!

Start by applying burnt umber paint on all of the wood, except the roof pieces.

Dry brush the roof with a small amount of off white paint. Let the paint dry. The roof will be the only part that will not have the crackle paint finish applied to it.


Apply a fairly thick layer of Elmer's white glue, over the burnt umber paint. (Excuse the picture. This is only a representation of the amount of glue that should be applied.) The thicker the layer of glue, the bigger the cracks will be in the paint. Oh, and here is a little secret for you; there are other brands of white glue that will also work, as long as it dries clear.

If you have never tried doing a crackle paint technique before, start with the back. It won't show later, but it'll give you a chance to get the hang of things.


Do only one section at a time. After applying the glue, wait, only about 60 seconds and apply your top coat of paint. I used an antique white. Load the brush up with quite a bit of paint. Go from top to bottom in one long stroke. Don't go over it again or it will ruin it.

Set aside and watch the crackles appear. Wait at least a couple hours and then apply the antiquing.


Mix equal parts burnt umber with gel medium. Apply once again, working in sections. Leave on 60 seconds or so ( no need for a stop watch here). Wipe with a soft, slightly damp cloth. Wipe carefully, so you don't damage the crackle finish! I don't want you wrecking the paint and  swearing at me.


When the paint has dried, attach the door. Add three hinges, evenly spaced. The easiest way to attach the hinges is one to the side of the door, the other to the side of the box.


Add a magnetic cupboard catch to the inside edge of the key chain holder, about halfway up. Glue the metal piece on the door so it lines up with the magnet.

Glue two prices of driftwood to the front of the door. For the door handle, use a flat longer piece and overlap slightly, on the side that opens.


Use a small curved piece of driftwood for the top. If it is wider than the door, make sure it doesn't interfere with how the door opens and closes.

Reattach the cup hooks in the holes that were made earlier.

Hook the wire and small nails from a picture hanging kit, on the back of the box. Now you can hang this up on the wall. For extra support, you can add a screw through the back of the box, into a wall stud.

Gather up your keys and hang them on the cup hooks. With this key chain holder from recycled pallet wood, you can get your keys organized, at last.

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