The BladeKey Bolt – A New Kind of Key Organizer

by May 13, 2013 05/13/13

Note: The model shown here is a prototype made from 3D printed plastic. The final version will be milled out of aluminum.

The BladeKey Bolt is a simple but well thought out device. Actually, you can probably guess how it operates just by looking at it. In a nutshell, it transforms your keychain into a pocket knife style key organizer.
No jingling. No poking. Just organized keys.

A Simple Design

The functional design of the BladeKey Bolt is something most will be familiar with. Anyone who has used a pocket knife will understand how it works because like I mentioned, it’s basically a Swiss Army knife for your keys.

bladekey-demo-2

Three different configurations of the BladeKey are offered and in two colors. You can order a raw aluminum finish color or  black anodized aluminum model that holds three, six or nine keys. Let’s say you find yourself using the nine key model with only six keys, just add a few rubber washers and the sizing will be as snug as it’s supposed to be.

Build Quality

unloaded-bladekey-2

The initial BladeKey prototypes were made from ABS and Nylon Plastics and while strong, they eventually lost out to the look, feel and durability of aluminum. I’ve dropped and twisted this 3D printed version a few times and it’s withstood the abuse. I’m certain the aluminum version will only be better.

bryan-n9Bryan has the black anodized aluminum  zip tie version, the BladeKey N9. That model was an early prototype as well. The Chicago bolt style is a big improvement over the zip tie version in terms of ease of use when adding or removing keys.

I know that the black anodized aluminum model will wear over time but I like having gear that shows signs of use.

Real World Use

The first thing I wanted to do when I got my BladeKey prototype was dump my keys from my normal keychain and start organizing. I quickly found out that only a couple of my keys would fit unmodified.  The binding post barrel diameter is 13/64 in (approximately 5.15 mm), so make sure your keys have a big enough hole to accommodate the binding post.

Depending on what keys you have, you may be ready to rock and roll right out of the box but if you have keys like mine, you better start charging your power drill. The actual drilling was a fairly simple process and I made sure to do it with the most basic equipment. I didn’t use a vise and just held the key up against the drill bit and hit the go switch. Make sure to wear gloves in case your hands slip but it only took a minute on most of my keys.

These were the keys I wanted to add to the BladeKey:

full-keys-1

These are the the keys that fit without modification:

full-keys-2

Adding and Removing Keys

Once you get your keys prepped (or maybe you don’t need to), just unscrew the Chicago bolt, slide your keys on, screw closed the bolt and you’re all set. That’s really it.  In just a few minutes, I was good to go. I tested it out on my door locks, mailbox and my car and it worked just as expected. No more noisy jingling keychain!

It’s simple to add or remove keys and I found that finger tightening seems to provide the best tension. Obviously the tighter you screw down the bolt, the tighter the keys will be but if you go too tight, the keys towards the outside will be extremely hard to open.

I’ve found that I like adding a small keyring to the BladeKey and attaching the entire setup to a front belt loop. This allows the BladeKey to be in my front pocket but not pulling heavily from the bottom of my pocket.

bladekey-pocket-carry

Notes and Critiques

  • By removing the rubber washers, I was able to insert six keys and a USB flash drive in the 6 key model BladeKey [edit: This prototype is actually the 9 key model]. After trying that for a week, I noticed it wasn’t ideal though because the rubber washers help to keep the keys evenly secure.
  • The obvious issue is that the BladeKey Bolt doesn’t fit all key types and some drilling/filing may be required. You can check the Kickstarter page for a sizing chart and key information. James, the creator of the BladeKey, also made a note in an email mentioning that he wanted to design and build the BladeKey from common off the shelf hardware. This was done for simplicity and to keep costs down.
  • With a single side hinge, pressure on the keys can be a bit uneven making the middle keys more loose than the ones on the end. This really isn’t a big deal but I wonder if a dual-sided option may work better.
  • In addition to using the larger rubber washer that was included, I toyed around with adding a smaller one to the middle of the keys. They were easy to find at my local hardware store and acted as a nice buffer/spacer.

Conclusion

I like it. I think it’s a fun and interesting way to organize my keys. A lot of people I showed it to also thought it was cool and are looking at getting one.

So, if you want to stop sounding like a janitor when you walk around, get yourself a BladeKey. Unless you are a janitor, in which case you should probably pick up a few.

Where To Get It

Have some questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.


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Victor Von
Victor Von

If you want to add some way to attach a ring or clip, just insert a side plate from a bicycle chain into the mix.

Victor Von
Victor Von

I've been making these for years using old feeler gauge bodies. Just pull out the feeler gauges and pop in your keys.

India Alpha One
India Alpha One

Hi Mike, I am interested to find-out what make/model of USB flash drive you are using. I have been wanting to consolidate my gear and this would be a great way to do that! As always, thanks for the great info! Chris

India Alpha One
India Alpha One

Hi Mike,

I am interested to find-out what make/model of USB flash drive you are using. I have been wanting to consolidate my gear and this would be a great way to do that!

As always, thanks for the great info!

Chris

J
J

Great product! But it could use a clip on the side, so that you can attach it to the side of your pocket and keep it up off the bottom. Then you wouldn't need to do something like what was shown in the pics above with the belt loop.

Jason L.
Jason L.

I love this concept for keeping your keys quiet, especially when running. A few years ago I saw a friend make a similar piece of equipment from a collapsible allen wrench set. Defiantly plan on picking one of these up.

Todd B Stevens
Todd B Stevens

Love the idea, my major question is what kind of modification to the keys is required? I would also miss my car's remote unlock thingy.

I can make a copy of apartment key, now bank safe deposit box key, likely no. And I bet they won't let me grind it up to fit.

Todd B Stevens
Todd B Stevens

Love the idea, my major question is what kind of modification to the keys is required? I would also miss my car's remote unlock thingy. I can make a copy of apartment key, now bank safe deposit box key, likely no. And I bet they won't let me grind it up to fit.

Common Sense
Common Sense

It will likely not sell as well as it could, due to having to modify keys. Most people I know won't find it it more convenient to purchase something that requires them to modify their keys to use it. Also, I don't see the point- what if you have to add more keys? What if you have to loan a key to someone else? The convenience of a keyring is lost so that you can carry a block of aluminum around.

Jake
Jake

It's a great idea, but needs to be more customizable as most of my keys wouldn't fit.

Myrna
Myrna

Sweet, now I can be on stealth mode at all time!

Justin
Justin

Nice but ,

Maybe add feature for Sensor car key Mine is big size . i'm just passing the point here but I think that could be a good idea to add this option.

Justin

Justin
Justin

Nice but , Maybe add feature for Sensor car key Mine is big size . i'm just passing the point here but I think that could be a good idea to add this option. Justin

far zero
far zero

Mike-did you try it with a vehicle key? Wondering how a pocket knife sticking out of the steering column will function.

Keefe Duncan
Keefe Duncan

Internal server error...could not order. I am telling you...Bill Gates does not like me at all.

Jeff
Jeff

Finally! Everyone, including me wanted to know what that awesome keychain was attached to the Go Tubes. Thanks!

Dan
Dan

I have been using the same idea for my motorcycle keys for a few months now. Jingling keys on a motorcycle is very annoying, so I just used a 3/4'' aluminum binding post screw set and neoprene washers...cost about $3.

However, I do like the clean look of the Blade Key...A carbon fiber or Titanium variant would be slick.

Dan
Dan

I have been using the same idea for my motorcycle keys for a few months now. Jingling keys on a motorcycle is very annoying, so I just used a 3/4'' aluminum binding post screw set and neoprene washers...cost about $3. However, I do like the clean look of the Blade Key...A carbon fiber or Titanium variant would be slick.

Brian
Brian

The product looks like a great idea, but honestly $25 for a very small piece of aluminum? I'd be in for $15...

Will
Will

I'd probably have a second for all of my bump keys

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Chris, the drive that Mike is using is a Kingston DataTraveler and I've been using that one myself for quite awhile and it's a great drive. I also wanted to add that I've recently been using the LaCie CooKey, which fits much better on the BladeKey than the Kingston. Hope that helps!

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Chris, the drive that Mike is using is a Kingston DataTraveler and I've been using that one myself for quite awhile and it's a great drive. I also wanted to add that I've recently been using the LaCie CooKey, which fits much better on the BladeKey than the Kingston. Hope that helps!

Mike Petrucci
Mike Petrucci

I did. The middle key in the horizontal lineup is my car key and it didn't have any issues. I guess it depends on how many keys you have, how heavy they are, the placement of your vehicle key and the placement of the ignition.

One thing you could do is put your vehicle key on the end (if it's a regular key and not one with a chip/big molded handle") and then instead of opening the key straight out, open it halfway like an "L" shape so the remainder of your keys hang straight down.

You'll probably just have to find what works best for you. Bryan's key doesn't work with it and you can see how he has to attach his BladeKey prototype to it. http://instagram.com/p/Y2bmpupQSX/

Mike Petrucci
Mike Petrucci

I did. The middle key in the horizontal lineup is my car key and it didn't have any issues. I guess it depends on how many keys you have, how heavy they are, the placement of your vehicle key and the placement of the ignition. One thing you could do is put your vehicle key on the end (if it's a regular key and not one with a chip/big molded handle") and then instead of opening the key straight out, open it halfway like an "L" shape so the remainder of your keys hang straight down. You'll probably just have to find what works best for you. Bryan's key doesn't work with it and you can see how he has to attach his BladeKey prototype to it. http://instagram.com/p/Y2bmpupQSX/

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