The Micro Tick Key – Hacking Gear Down to Size

The Tick Key is the best Tick removal tool that I have ever used. However, in my opinion, its far bigger than it really needs to be. That is especially true if you want to carry the Tick Key in a minimal or ultralight pocket First Aid Kit (FAK).

Hacking the Tick Key

Most of the hacks I do perform on gear are designed to reduce weight, but the Tick Key weighs a mere 5.4g to begin with, in this case size is the issue. The size of the Tick Key has been bugging me for some time, more or less since I first bought one. So this past weekend I decided to do something about it. The tools I used were a hacksaw, a flat metal file, a round metal file, a drill press and some 800 grade wet-n-dry paper.

The Plan of Attack

I like to have a plan for how I’m going to hack any given piece of gear. For more expensive pieces of gear it’s almost critical to plan your approach, for smaller items like this it’s not as important. For me a plan means sketching it in some form or another in my pocket notebook to determine what I’m going to do and in what order I’m going to do things. I’m a visual person. Below is the sketch I made for hacking up the Tick Key.

Sketch of how I hacked the Tick Key

The three large dotted lines represent the cuts I will be making with the hacksaw. These cuts will remove the majority of the excess metal. The two vertical cuts will be first and then the horizontal cut. The Tick Key is made of aluminum and cuts like butter making this an easy hack to do by hand. I could use a Dremmel tool, but prefer to have a little more control for smaller items like this.

Hacking the Tick Key

I used the flat file to slowly remove the corners of what was left and the Tick Key and then the round file to smooth out the lines and create the final sweeping curves. I used a drill press to make a new hole for a short length of cord. If you don’t have a drill press you can just as easily use a hand drill, but be careful.

Once I had the final shape completed I used the 800 grit wet-n-dry paper to smooth out the file marks and rough edges so that the entire thing was smooth to handle. I didn’t make any changes to the internal tear drop shape of the Tick Key. That’s the working end and I don’t need or want to mess with that in any way.

Hacking the Tick Key

Quick and Easy

Even taking my time and being careful not to damage the Tick Key, this entire hack took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The original Tick Key weighed a whopping 5.4g. The reduced version weighs 1.6g including the short length or LiteTrail Hi-Viz Dyneema Guyline. More importantly it now takes up a lot less room in my pocket FAK which means that I’m much more likely to carry it, which means I’m more likely to have it with me when I really need it.

Hacking the Tick Key

How Not to Lose Your Micro Tick Key

One last thing that I wanted to share with you is something I discovered as being necessary as a result of this hack. I’d reduced the size of the Tick Key so much that it became easy to lose and slipped out of my FAK on more than one occasion. A downside of the hack I guess. I found an easy solution for this by using one of the two small safety pins to attach the Tick Key to my wallet using the short length of guyline cord. Now it isn’t going anywhere!

Hacking the Tick Key

Based on the Instagram photos I posted of this earlier in the week I am not the only one to have trimmed a Tick Key. What do you think of this quick little hack and would you do it to your Tick Key?

Micro Tick Key Hack Flickr Photoset

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  • Paul L. Smith

    Smart! I think my only concern would be that I wouldn’t have enough leverage for a tick that is deeply embedded, but I have not had to remove so many ticks that that was an issue. I suspect that it isn’t too great of a concern. I have, however, used the tick key to put pressure on the skin surrounding a hook embedded in my thumb or other area a time or two. It made removing the hook a much easier process.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Paul, one of my concerns in cutting off so much of the body of the tick key was that it might render it unusable. I added the short length of guyline to the smaller version in order to provide a way to have more purchase on the tick key and to help pull it in the direction of use.

      As soon as I put this smaller version into action I’ll share a photo or update this post.

    • M. Demetrius

      There just ain’t *nuthin* easy about removing a fish hook from your skin, bro.

      • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

        Amen to that. Been there and done that more times than I care to think about it.

  • Enrique

    Gimmick. I’d rather have real tweezers any day which is also a multi-use tool.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Hey whatever floats your boat. I can tell you that this little gadget, while a one trick pony, is hands down the best and safest tick removal tool I’ve ever used. Tweezers are often misused causing the tick to be damaged or the head left in and causing infection. Tweezers don’t even come close IMHO.

  • Snctool

    Brian, I have never owned or used one of these. You did an excellent job of modifying the tool. You might make a machinist after all. A dab of pure bleach will make a tick turn loose and second for water purification.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Coming from you that’s a lofty compliment! I’ve heard the stories of using bleach on ticks but never tried. I have friends that use drops of bleach for all their water purification needs – might be something to think about. Anyone else know about using pure bleach on ticks with any kind of success?

    • Sid23

      Using bleach or any other chemical to kill/release a tick is known to cause tick to expel more bacteria into the host than using a tool to remove.

      • Connie Smith

        I just watched a video on u-tube where someone put 1 drop of essential oil on an embedded tick…and almost instantly it yanked its’ icky lil’ head out and was traveling on to greener pastures…