Friday, May 18, 2012

Ron Brown's Famous Key Chain Font 2.0 Review

Back in 2005 Ron Brown published an article in the former Scrolsaw Workshop Magazine(Scroll Saw Woodworking and Crafts). In the article Ron showed a font that allowed you to make key chains. Ron also distributed the font as a computer file. Back then the font had some issues because it was not very legible in some sizes. He eventually let it become freeware and it kind of faded out of sight. He had so many requests for the font that he re-designed it for much better legibility and released version 2. You can buy the new version from www.coolhammers.com

The cost of the DVD is $16.95 + SH. With the DVD you get the Key Chain font, Scroll Saw Names Font, Make $20 to $40 per hour with your scroll saw pdf and the instructions for installing and using the fonts. The picture above also shows the DVD for cutting cool hammers which is also available from Ron.

The picture above is from Ron's site and shows the Key Chain's cut from the font. Ron has made and sold hundreds of these key chains and he says the size that sells best is 1/2 inch tall and 3/8 inch thick. When I read this in the instructions that sounded very small but after cutting a few I really like the small size. Of course you can make them any size you want.

The rest of this post is a demonstration of me using the font and cutting my name.


Because of the small size these are a more of a challenge to cut than I thought they would be. They are a blast to make and totally worth the little bit of practice required. For the Key Chains you don't have to apply the pattern to the wood. We are just going to freehand it. Simply type the alphabet into a word processor using the font and print it out for reference. After a while you won't even need the reference.

Ron suggests making a story stick to mark the wood blank. At this size the letters are 5/16 inch in width except for the letter "i" which is about half the width of all the other letters.
You can see here that I have my blank marked. I decided to leave a blank space at the beginning and end but that's optional.
The next step is to cut a shallow line around the blank between each letter. I'm using a #5 blade. Make sure your table is squared up to the blade or your cuts won't line up.
After you get all the between letter cuts made it's time to start the letters. I have the printout of the font handy for reference.
You want the kerf wide enough to give good legibility. I used a #5 but I might try a #7 next time. Ron's instructions give you tips on how to make the cuts so the key fob stays strong enough not to break.
After I have the letters all cut I cut the left over blank away. I found it best to keep it long while I cut to have something to hold on to.
A trip over to my mop sander to ease all the edges and it was ready for a finish. You want to do a good job sanding so the key fob feels comfortable in your hand.
We are going to use an eyelet screw to attach the split ring so I pre-drilled so not to split the wood. I used a 1/6" bit.
I decided to finish my key chain with oil and spray acrylic so in it goes for the oil bath.
I buy my split rings from Michael's Craft store. A bag of 10 is around $2. You will find them in the leather crafting section. The eyelet screw in this picture was one size too big and I ended up using a small one.

Final Thoughts:
I absolutely enjoyed making these key rings. They are quick to cut, you don't need a pattern and I think they look great. Making these onsite at a craft show or festival would be ideal. Ron says he sells the key chain names for $4 apiece or two for $6. He estimates it takes around 5 minutes to cut the average name. The cost of supplies to make these is very low so when Ron says you could earn $20 to $40 per hour I think that's a fair statement. Of course you have to be at an event with very good foot traffic to stay busy enough to do that.

After you make the purchase from www.coolhammers.com you can opt to have Ron send you the files by email while you wait for the DVD to arrive. He travels a lot so this is not instant but he checks his mail often. My DVD arrived in just a few days.

I really like this product and I definitely think the $20 price is a good value. If you make these as gifts or to sell you will get your money back with just 5 or 6 projects. Visit www.coolhammers.com for more details.



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