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How to Make a Fake Skeleton Key at Home

By Tad Cronn
You can make a fake skeleton key with oven-bake clay.

Skeleton keys are the stuff of mystery novels for most people. Although there are real skeleton keys that can open a variety of doors and latches, the legendary keys found in literature will undo even the sturdiest of locks. Such a key could make a good accessory for a costume or just to decorate a wall. Make your own fake skeleton key out of oven-bake clay and some paint.

Cut a straight 6-inch piece of wire from the coat hanger with the wire cutters.

Encase the wire in clay and roll it on your work surface until you have a straight cylinder. Make sure the wire does not show through anywhere.

Make a 3-inch "snake" of clay by rolling it on the workspace. Pick up the snake, press one end onto one end of the key cylinder. Make a loop with the snake and attach its other end to the cylinder to create the key handle.

Make 1-by-1-inch square of clay. Cut out "teeth" for the key, using the craft knife to make very square and right-angle teeth. The exact pattern is subject to personal taste.

Attach the teeth to the key cylinder, near the end of the shaft opposite the key handle. Press it into place. Add strength to it with a small roll of clay to fill any gap between key teeth and cylinder.

Lift the key with a spatula onto a glass or aluminum-lined pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes for every 1/4 inch of clay thickness.

Let the clay cool completely after baking, then paint it silver, gold or rust-colored.

About the Author

Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.