Wood Bead Keychains – Three Ways to Make Them

Three wood bead keychains decorated using different methods

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These cute wood bead keychains can be decorated in three different ways that can be mixed and matched to showcase your own unique accessory. The combinations you can use to make these easy keychains are endless.

Three finished wood bead keychains, one with painted beads, one with dyed beads, and one with glittered beads

Several months ago I decided I wanted to try making some wood bead keychains. I had been inspired by some pictures I had seen on Pinterest and wanted to try it for myself. I started with a small bag of wood beads and used whatever supplies I had on hand to make a couple.

Then I got a bit addicted to making them. Before I knew it I had bought a bunch more beads, paint, and charms. And not long after I had a huge collection of keychains.

In the future I might try to sell them or just give them away. But for now I’m just having fun making them.

Through making all these keychains, I’ve figured out what techniques worked best for me. So I wanted to share what I know in this tutorial. I hope this can inspire others to make some of these keychains for themselves. Just be prepared, because making these can get very addicting!                                                                                                 

A blue glittered bead and a bead being dunked into pink dye above the text "Wood Bead Keychains DIY Tutorial" above three different wood bead keychains

What You Will Need to Make a Wood Bead Keychain

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Wood Beads (I used 25mm round, 25mm geometric, and 20mm round beads)

Suede Cord

Keychain Rings


Jump Rings

Charms or Other Embellishments


Jewelry Pliers

Something to Hold Skewers

Wooden beads, suede cord, keychain rings, apple skewers, jump rings, charms, scissors, and jewelry pliers

The skewers I use are the ones meant for candy apples, so they are quite a bit thicker. I found them at my grocery store right next to the regular wood skewers. In the past I’ve also used disposable chopsticks. Basically you just need something to hold your beads in place while you paint.

You will also need somewhere to hold up your skewers while your beads dry. I use a spare piece of plywood with some holes drilled into it and that works wonderfully. In the past I’ve also poked the skewers into floral foam to hold them in place. As long as you have a way to keep the beads from touching anything, any method you use is fine.

Depending on how you plan to decorate your beads, you also need:

Decorating with Paint: Craft Paint, Varnish, and Paintbrushes

Various bottles of paint and paintbrushes

Decorating with Glitter: Glitter, Gloss Mod Podge, and Paintbrushes

Three bottles of fine glitter, mod podge, and paintbrushes

If decorating with Dye: Water Based Dye and Small Containers

Three bottles of Rit Dye and plastic cups

How to Make a Wood Bead Keychain

Step 1: Decorate Wood Beads

First you need to decorate your wood beads. There are plenty of ways to do this, but I’m going to show off my three favorite methods. Regardless of how you decorate them, start by adding the wood beads to your skewers.

A small wooden bead on a skewer

If you are using the candy apple skewers like I am, snip a bit of the tip off with scissors before you begin. Here’s a comparison of what they look like. The one on the right has been snipped.

Two apple skewers, one has a sharp tip and the other has the sharp tip cut off

That way you don’t risk stabbing yourself in the hand when you remove the beads later. I unfortunately speak from experience on this.

After the beads are on the skewers, grab the supplies needed for your chosen decoration method.

Using Paint to Decorate Wood Beads

Pick out your chosen paints you want to use on your beads. I decided to use a few of my favorite craft paints for this. One is a Folk Art Metallic Paint in Ice Blue. And the other is Folk Art Color Shift in Aqua Flash.

Then apply the paint to the beads in thin layers and let dry in between coats. I usually give it about 30 minutes to an hour, but each paint is a little different. The number of coats you will need on your beads will also depend on what paint you use. Just about every craft paint I use takes three layers for even coverage on the beads. However, the Color Shift needs 4-5 coats.

Two finished wooden beads painted blue and green

When the paint layers are completely dry, you can add a few layers of varnish on the beads as well. This both protects the beads and gives them a more finished look. My preferred varnish for this is the DecoArt brand of craft varnishes, but you can use any one you like.

For these beads, I’m using the satin finish varnish so the beads have a semi-gloss finish. Regardless of what type of varnish, I use two thin coats on each bead.

Then let the beads dry at least an hour or two before removing them from the skewers. They will probably be a little stuck but should come off without too much trouble.

Four finished wooden beads, two painted blue and two painted green

Using Glitter to Decorate Wood Beads

Start by grabbing some gloss Mod Podge. I wouldn’t use matte Mod Podge for this, because it will make the glitter look dull after the final coat.

Next paint your bead with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Then generously apply your first layer of glitter. Make sure to have something underneath to catch the glitter so you can put any excess back into the container.

Don’t worry if your first glitter layer doesn’t look great. I find the curves of the beads make it hard to get a good glitter layer on the first round. On one of my beads I even had some very noticeable “bald” spots.

A wooden bead covered in blue glitter and there are some bald spots in the glitter

Any imperfections like this can easily be fixed later. But for now, set the bead aside so the Mod Podge can dry completely.

After the first layer of Mod Podge has dried, brush on a second layer. Try to make this layer as thin and even as possible. Then once again pour your glitter onto the bead.

A wooden bead after two layers of blue glitter to get even coverage

Now you should have a good coverage of glitter on the bead. In case you still have any thin spots, you can always repeat adding Mod Podge and glitter until you’re happy with it. But personally I’ve never needed more than two layers of glitter. Then set aside so the Mod Podge can dry again.

Once dry, add one final layer of Mod Podge on top of the glitter. This seals the glitter and keeps it from falling off later. Let this layer dry for at least a few hours, then remove from the skewers. The glitter beads are the hardest to remove from the skewers so you may need to fight with them a bit. But that’s why I remove the sharp tip from the skewer in the beginning.

What If My Beads Look Cloudy?

A thin layer of Mod Podge dries in about 20 to 30 minutes. If the layer is thicker it will take a bit longer. But I’ve noticed that after sealing glitter it sometimes looks a bit cloudy in places even if the glue has dried.

A close up of a glittered wooden bead to show that the mod podge has not fully dried

Even though the glue has dried, Mod Podge actually takes 4 weeks to fully cure. So just give it some more time and eventually those cloudy spots will turn clear. The glitter still won’t be quite as sparkly as before you applied the Mod Podge. But I think it’s a fair trade to not have glitter shedding all over the place.

Using Dye to Decorate Wood Beads

Start by preparing the dye baths for your beads. I decided to use the same three colors I used for my ombre terra cotta pots that I made last month.

Fill a small container with enough water to submerge your beads. Then add a small amount of the dye. According to the Rit website, you should use a 6:1 ratio of water to dye when dyeing wood. So in my case, my little containers could easily hold 6 tablespoons of water. So I eye measured about a tablespoon of dye into each cup and mixed.

Three bottles of dye sitting behind three cups each filled with a different color of dye

Although I used the 6:1 ratio suggested, you can play around with your dye amounts a bit. The more dye you use, the more bold the color will be. And of course, the less dye used, the lighter the color.

Then dip your bead into the dye bath. Because wood is porous, the longer you leave it in the dye the darker your color will be. I kept each of mine submerged for a minute or two before pulling them out and setting them aside to dry completely.

A wooden bead on a skewer being dunked into one of the cups of dye

If you wanted a little extra protection on your beads or a more glossy finish, you could also add a few layers of varnish. I decided to skip that since I wanted to leave the beads with a more natural look.

Three wooden beads after being dyed one of the three colors

Step 2: Assemble Wood Bead Keychain

When the paint/glue/dye on all your beads has dried, you can assemble your keychain. First, cut a piece of suede cord. For my keychains, I typically am using either three 25mm beads or four 20mm beads. In those cases, about 12 inches of suede cord is perfect. But depending on the size and number of beads you use, you may need a bit more or less.

Then take your jump ring so you can attach the cord to it. I’ve found that a heavy gauge 12mm jump ring works perfect. Fold the cord in half and pass the loop through the ring. Then pass the other ends of the cord through the loop and pull to secure.

A piece of suede cord being looped around a jump ring

Now string your beads onto your cord. Then tie a tight knot in the cord as close to the bottom bead as possible. Finish this off by trimming the ends of your cord to even them up.

Lastly, slip the jump ring onto the keychain ring. The jump ring will allow the beads to move so you can add keys or whatever else to the keyring.

Four painted beads slid onto a suede cord and tied at the bottom

Step 3: Add Finishing Touches to Wood Bead Keychains

These wood bead keychains look great as is, but you may want to add a little something extra to make them stand out. For all the ones I’ve made so far, I’ve added some sort of charm to complement whatever color combination I’ve chosen for my beads.

Here is the finished keychain with the painted beads:

A finished wood bead keychain with painted beads and a mermaid charm

Next is the keychain with glittered beads:

A finished wood bead keychain with glittered beads and an angel wing charm

And finally, the keychain made with dyed beads:

A finished wood bead keychain with dyed beads and a tassel charm

I usually end up using a 9mm heavy gauge jump ring to attach to the charm. Then slide the ring onto the keychain ring just like you did jump ring with the beads.

Mini tassels also make a perfect addition to these wood bead keychains. That is what I added as my charm to the dyed bead keychain above. When using embroidery floss you can easily match the color of your tassels to your beads. If you’d like to learn how to make these little tassels, check out my tutorial on how to make a mini tassel.

Additional Notes on Wood Bead Keychains

There are so many ways to make these keychains that the combinations are endless. Try mixing different size beads or different ways of decorating them. I mostly kept things simple in these tutorials and did one type of decorating for each keychain. But they look great when you mix and match them too.

Here are a few more examples of wood bead keychains that I’ve made. Most of these beads are painted, but I used different types of paint to mix things up a bit.

Three finished wood bead keychains with various painted beads and charms, mostly pinks and whites
Three finished wood bead keychains with various beads and charms, mostly blue
Three finished wood bead keychains with various painted beads and charms in different styles

I also only used solid colors when decorating my beads. You could try painting different colors or designs on the beads when using paint. Or you could use dip the beads into different colors of dye to create different effects. You could also use multiple colors of glitter on the same bead. Like I said, the combinations are absolutely endless!

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and happy crafting!

Signature "Chel" written in green colored cursive

If you liked this tutorial, don’t forget to pin it for later on Pinterest!

Text "Wood Bead Keychains DIY Tutorial" above three different wood bead keychains

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