Make an Emergency Key in 5 Easy Steps

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Make an Emergency Key in 5 Easy Steps


In this Instructable, “KrazyKred” show you how to quickly make a spare emergency key from an old credit card (or Tic Tac box). The process couldn’t be easier.

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Step 1: Soot the Key with a Lighter

keyCopy_1Wave a lighter beneath the key to deposit a layer of carbon soot onto one side of the key you wish to copy.

Step 2: Transfer the Image to Tape

keyCopy_2Burnish down a piece of wide tape to the sooty side of the key to transfer an impression of the key.

Step 3: Transfer the Image to the New Key Material

keyCopy_7Carefully burnish the tape image onto the material you’re going to make your key out of. KrazyKred uses an old credit card and a Tic Tac box. You can also use the flat area of a metal can lid. Remove the tape and your impression should be transferred.

Step 4: Cut Out Your New Key

keyCopy_3Now, carefully cut out the key shape with a sharp pair of scissors. Be sure to cut the business edge of the key (known as “the cuts”) exactly as the original.

Step 5: Compare for Accuracy

keyCopy_4Place your new key against the original and test to make sure that your new key’s cuts match the original exactly. Make any adjustments in the cuts with your scissors.


That’s it! You’re done. Test out your new key. You need to be careful as the key is rather fragile and you don’t want it to break off inside of your lock. Making one of these for your car, house, etc. and storing it in your wallet or purse might be a good idea. Years ago when I bought a Toyota Matrix, it came with a punch-out credit card wallet key. This is basically a homemade version of the same thing.

Visit KrazyKred’s Instructable page for this project for more info, more photos, and community member comments.

2 thoughts on “Make an Emergency Key in 5 Easy Steps

  1. michaelclick says:

    What about the keying groove along the back side of the key? Does the emergency key flex enough or be thin enough to not need it?

  2. michaelclick says:

    Another good reason not leave your entire key ring with the valet when parking. They don’t have to go to all the trouble of molding and casting a key for entry. They can be in your house, looting you, before you even finish your entree.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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