We have this nice and very serviceable keybox holder in our laundry room. If I remember right, we got it as a Christmas gift from Jodi’s Mom and stepdad a bunch of years ago. We’ve loved and heavily used it in our last house and this one, but over the past half year it’s become a point of frustration for me every—single—day! It’s my problem, one I created, but one I don’t have to like. You see, I expect this thing to hold every possible set of keys we own, two pairs of my sun glasses, my wallet and 4 pounds of leftover ham from Tuesday night. Umm, yeah. That ain’t workin’. It’s been a juggling act for the last 6 months—I take something out, something falls; I put something in, something falls; I walk by without touching anything, something falls. Clearly I was exceeding it’s limitations.
So, I added building a larger one to my Future Projects list and this past week, decided to get ‘er started.
I drafted something up in Google Sketchup that would handle more sets of keys and include a shelf for sun glasses, wallets, headphones or whatever I lugged around (maybe even some ham!). I had a bunch of left over wood scraps from other projects so that kept the price right. I found a rustic key on Etsy for $9, then some neat little hooks and a star at a local home decor shop for $12, so all in after some wall-mount clips, this project cost *maybe* $20.
- (3) Back: 1″x4″x14″
- (2) Back (braces): 1″x2″x10″
- (3) Shelf (top, bottom, behind key): 1″x3″x12.5″
- (2) Shelf (front): 1″x3″x4″ (width will vary based on key size)
- (2) Shelf (ends): 1″x3″x4″
- (5) Old rustic key hooks w/ screws
- (2) Picture frame wall hangers (one per brace)
- A large rustic key for decoration
- Minwax wood pre-conditioner
- Minwax Dark Walnut stain
- Black paint (behind key)
Cut all my pieces and test fit them to ensure it’d look good.
Then I pre-drilled the hook holes, started gluing and brad nailing the back and separately the shelf pieces together. Separately, it’d make sanding much easier (which it did) before joining front to back.
Don’t you just love my “professional” method of clamping the glued braces to the back piece a la gallon paint cans? Sure I’ve got actual clamps, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, I was too lazy to walk 15′ when the heavy cans 4′ away were within reach ;-)
To this point, I’ve cut, test-fit, recut, re-test-fit, drilled, glued, nail-gunned and sanded the entire structure. Time investment: maybe 55 minutes.
Next, I painted the small cavity where the decorative key will get placed. I wanted to add some black to match the black hooks and also contrast the key to make it stand out. Once dried (15 mins), I pre-conditioned the wood ahead of staining. Up until I started building projects again over the last few months, I’d never considering pre-conditioning the wood. I always thought of it as an expensive extra step and cash grab. Mind you, I never really cared about the finish of anything I made before either. It’s purpose is to soak up the stain evenly and prevent blotching. I have to say, it does work. I’ve been very pleased with all stained projects since I started using it. If you go this route with your projects, make sure to buy as big a can as you can (and foam brushes in bulk!). You’ll use it on anything involving stain (not paint) and you may as well get it as cheap as possible. I bought a large can 4 projects ago for $30+. Sure it wasn’t cheap, but spread that out over at least 6 or 7 or 10 projects, the cost is almost immeasurable. I still have more than half a can left.
Oh, and if you’re not a fan of the 60s, I’d use a mask. Even those trendy paper SARS masks everybody wore a few years back will work. Also, open a window (or in my case, a garage door). As lovely as the fumes smell, nobody enjoys a wicked headache.
These finishing steps (pre-condition, stain and/or paint) take the longest. Not in terms of man-hours invested, but in time waiting for the items to dry between coats. I typically stain and rag off a coat in the morning or before bed and let it dry all day/night, then one more coat and do the same. They generally recommend applying a coat of stain, waiting 15 minutes, ragging off and awaiting 4-6 hours to dry before repeating. My time investment calculation at the bottom of this post doesn’t factor in dry-time, only time I actually worked on building and finishing.
Once the wood was conditioned, I applied 2 coats of stain before affixing the key hooks and wall clips. I also hot glued the key into place, then hung it on the wall in all it’s glory. I’d of rather centered it away from the door trim, but I also wanted to cover up the old keybox’s holes and avoid wall repair. If it were out on display and not in the mud room, I’d have done it.