Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another Victorian-esque Drive

Similar approach to the last one: Start with a small block of wood (this a little section of 1" x 2" lumber), hollowed out with drill and tiny router bits. There's an additional hole in the top, drilled with a half-inch drill bit. The whole thing got stained and coated with shellac.

The half-inch hole got filled with a large-sized clothing grommet lined with a little square of brass cloth. The leather upholstery on the sides is cut from a disused glove and nailed/superglued in place. The gear is from a bag of old watch parts, while the corner piece and the "crank" are fashioned from scrapbooking and cheap jewelry pieces from the craft store, superglued in place.

After the drive was epoxied in place, I traced around the end of another USB plug on a scrap of wood veneer (collections of assorted samples are available cheaply on-line from veneer suppliers). Cutting the outline with an Xacto knife, I had a bit of veneer with a hole that fit snugly around the plug. Putting that on the end of the drive, I then traced around the end of the casing, removed it, and cut around the outline so it matched the dimensions of the casing as well. I found that sticking a bit of masking tape on the back while I was cutting greatly reduced splitting. Then I put it back on, glued it, and finished it with matching stain.

The nice bit about this one is that the amber LED attached to the drive, visible through the grommet, is designed to slowly fade in and out while the drive is plugged in. It gives a nice warm light reminiscent of a tube radio, which the finished casing vaguely resembles.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brass and wood thumb drive

So I made a decorative thing out of an old thumb drive. This is the less interesting side.

The electronics, such as they are, are cannibalized from an old thumb drive. They're cheap, and the case can be pried off easily with a screwdriver or cracked with pliers, leaving you with a circuit board attached to the USB plug itself. The whole thing's about the size of a stick of gum.

The heart of the case is a section of 3/4" wooden dowel. Most of the work on it was done with a Dremel drill press and a bunch of different bits. To make space for the drive, I drilled a bunch of holes in the end, more or less outlining a rectangular hole. A lot of material was removed by that alone, but I enlarged the hole with the aid of some router blades and a few others. By the end, it was nearly just a thin wooden shell.

The bands around ends are from a short section of copper pipe, removed with a pipe cutter (maybe $8 at your hardware store). Since they almost-but-not-quite fit over the ends of the dowel, I used a sanding/grinding bit around the ends of the dowel, shaving down the diameter just a bit, until the copper rings fit. The dowel was prepared for the other metal fittings by a lot of drilling, from tiny, tiny bits in the drill press for the parallel wires to a 3/16" bit (attached to a full-sized drill) for the top "window."

Once all the holes were drilled, the dowel got a coat of dark stain and then one of polyurethane to seal it. The various bits (decorative square brads and long bronze-ish pins from the craft store, a small grommet from the fabric store, and the aforementioned copper rings) were put in place and secured with garden-variety cyanoacrylate. The only unusual bit is that the grommet "porthole" has a layer of woven brass "fabric" behind it. I cut a tiny square, a bit larger than the diameter of the grommet itself, snipped off the corners to make sure they wouldn't project as much, and pushed the grommet through the hole in the dowel, wrapping the fabric over the end and helping wedge it in place.

The bullet end is made from a plastic gear (ordered in a large, cheap bag years ago) painted copper and secured by nailing a decorative tack from the hardware store into the end.

And when the drive is in use, you can see a bright red light through the porthole.