Upcycled Neoprene Chicago Screw Keychain

Wrong time of year for this project, I guess, but I collect scrap neoprene, mainly old wetsuits. So, these projects are year round fun for me, at least. I really like playing with neoprene- I don’t own an industrial sewing machine, so I’m limited on what I can sew, but there’s a lot of fun projects that you can make without needing anything exotic.

I do wash the scrap neoprene in the washing machine with detergent to cut out any “ewwww” factor. Usually, these suits are given to me, and have no life left for surf or dive use because of their condition. But, it’s a shame to throw out neoprene since it’s really not “recyclable”, and I don’t know of any programs that do so, except for Rip Curl’s wetsuit recycling program. So, washing in detergent isn’t a big deal, since if it breaks down the neoprene a little more, so what- it’s already shot!

Wetsuit kneepad

The old wetsuit’s kneepad


The fob I’m going to DIY

I had cut up a men’s 3/2 full suit to use for repairs on another suit. This one had those heavy duty rubberized knee pads on it. I saved those, thinking there’s SOMETHING I could do with them, even if it was as a jar opener (it works, depending on the type of knee pad rubber). However, I saw a neato type of keychain advertised on Pinterest called a “Foldover Fob” that used a Chicago Screw and a simple strip of leather. It was nice because it keeps your keys from jingling in your pocket. The not-so-nice thing is that it cost 20 bucks, I think.

I thought this kneepad’s thick rubber reminded me of leather, so I thought to undertake this project with this material.


Chicago screws and the contact person

Chicagoscrews.com was kind enough to send me an array of samples of these types of screws, and they’re quite amazing. If any local peeps would like to try this project too, let me know, I have extra screws. For this project, I used a 3/4″ stainless steel screw, but they manufacture them in plastic, aluminum, in colors, different lengths, etc.

Next, I wanted to allow for the longest keys I had, so I cut the long rectangular piece from the dead center of the kneepad, using my sharp rotary cutter and a good straight edge. You can see I made the strip about an inch in width.

I’ll clean up any imperfections later, or whatever. So, here’s the screw I’m going to use, 3/4″ long stainless steel, with an option to use a flathead or Philips screwdriver. The other side is polished blank.

I estimated about a quarter of an inch down from one end of the strip and cut two little slits with a sharp pair of scissors. Do this on the other end as well. You can use an awl or a strong punch if you have one, of course. This allows me to push the long end of the screw through one of the ends. I’m going to keep the rubbery side out.

Next, I loaded my keys on. This length fits about four average keys. Once you’ve loaded all your keys on, push the short end of the screw through the hole on the other end.

Get a screwdriver (even a coin works!) and screw it all together. Done!

imageThis keychain has been pretty handy. You can swing out the key you need from the fob, and I don’t feel like the college kegger Keymaster. I guess you can make something like this for those electric remote keys, but I drive a Mirthmobile with manual windows, so this is for the beach bum set, like me.

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