Introduction: Miss Betsy's Quintessential Steampunk Gadget

Picture of Miss Betsy's Quintessential Steampunk Gadget

This instructable involves working with electricity (120V) and fluids in close vicinity! You should be aware of the dangers and not attempt this if you don't know what you are doing!
All pipe/hose connections have to be absolutely watertight and I recommend a test with the reservoir filled but the coffee maker not plugged in. Check for leaks after 30 minutes or longer.
The electrical connections should be at least as well insulatad as in the original "donor", when you solder the copper pipes use leadfree solder and when using epoxy glue follow the instructions carefully and work in a well ventilated area!

This said, let's have a look what we need.

Materials and tools which will make completion of this project a lot easier -_^ :
Donor = Coffeemaker from the Salvation Army
Wood to build the frame
Copper pipes and fittings
Water reservoir - I used a aluminum water bottle
A nice coffee/tea pot
Filter holder - in my case a pretty porcelain lamp shade
4 rubber feet
Lead-free solder
Pipe cutter
Soldering iron
Different glues
Ruler, tape measure, compass and caliper
Drill press + drill bits
Emerald paper

For some time I wanted to make a steampunk coffee/tea maker but I couldn't think of a nice water reservoir till I saw this aluminum water bottle at the dollar store. As luck would have it, the opening had a 3/4" FPT (female pipe thread) which could be easily fitted with the male counterpart and further hooked up to the heater element. (You can see it on a picture later) The other problem was the wooden base but I was lucky there too.
If you want to see how a coffee maker works, check this really good video clip:
Of course you could argue an electrical powered coffee maker is not steampunk at all, but then I want to see the coal/gasoline driven coffee maker you've built ;p

Step 1: Finding a Donor and Taking It Apart:

Picture of Finding a Donor and Taking It Apart:

Every time I stop at the salvation army they have several coffee makers up for grabs. Usually they are not difficult to take apart with a screwdriver and some (gentle) force. What you need is the heating element with attached rubber hoses, electrical switch and cable.

Step 2: Mock Up

Picture of Mock Up

To find the right arrangement of the parts, I moved them around on a wooden board and got the approximate measurements for a wooden base.

Step 3: Fitting the Parts in the Base

Picture of Fitting the Parts in the Base

I couldn't believe my luck when I found a piece of wood the exact size for this project. What still needed to be done was cutting the round opening for the warming plate but I managed that pretty well and everything fitted perfectly.

Step 4: Ducts and Frame

Picture of Ducts and Frame

As the pictures show, I drilled two holes for the pipes. One for the duct from the reservoir to the heater and the other from the heater up to the coffee filter. In case you haven't watched the video, check the rubber hoses for the one-way valve! That's the one that comes from the reservoir!
To have room for all this, I built a frame ~3/4" high.
In the last picture of this series you see everything in place.

Step 5: Painting and Installing the Electrical Switch

Picture of Painting and Installing the Electrical Switch

The whole base was painted with fast drying spray paint.
I would have loved to use the switch in the picture but I had to find out that it was only rated 12V, so I had to revert to the original switch.
You can see how I installed it and how the cable was secured to the frame.

Step 6: Preparing the Water Reservoir

Picture of Preparing the Water Reservoir

I scored the aluminum bottle about 1/4" from the bottom and cut the bottom off with a metal saw (carefully). The cradle from some other project came in quite handy. The cut was straight and square!
In the second picture you can see the 3/4" MPT to sweat brass connector which fitted perfectly in the opening of the bottle.

Step 7: Construction of the Steam! Pipe

Picture of Construction of the Steam! Pipe

Actually these are just some copper pieces found in my spare box, including a brass nozzle which are epoxied together. The real secret of the steam-pipe though is a 1/4" food-grade hose that runs inside the copper pipe and guides the steam/hot water right up to the coffee filter. This arrangement also allows me to swing the arm to the side when the brewing is done.

Step 8: Feet and a Bottom-cover

Picture of Feet and a Bottom-cover

For safety reasons the heating element and electrical parts were literally screened off with some bug screen. (And yes, I know, I could have put a bit more effort into it) In case of leaks the water would be drained away from the electrical parts.
Feet keep the coffee maker off any surface you put it on.

Step 9: The Finished Coffee Maker

Picture of The Finished Coffee Maker

Of course I could have added some additional "steampunkish" elements but I think the coffee maker catches your eye because of the simple lines along with the contrast between black base, coffee(tea) pot and gleaming metal.
The last pic is a stereogram and if you know how, you can see the coffee maker in 3D. Just click on the i in the upper left corner and see it at full size. (Further explanations at my instructable "Stereo Photography Track - quick and dirty" )
Let me know what you think and if you like my instructable, please click on the stars and rate it.
Thank you!


Asadullah Mughal (author)2015-11-29

Great idea really featured

dohebert (author)2015-09-08

I left the original coffee maker switch in the "on" position and spliced in an outdoor switch (the kind with the big slide that operates an ordinary wall switch). I attached a bolt head to the pivot of the outdoor switch, so the unit turns on with a key (formerly a gas valve key, available at Ace Hardware).

MissBetsy (author)dohebert2015-09-09

Looks absolutely great!

dohebert (author)MissBetsy2015-09-09

Thank you! Next step is to fashion a homemade coffee scoop from a 3/4" plumbing end cap and a brass rod to go with it.

MissBetsy (author)dohebert2015-09-09

brilliant idea! where did you get the brass water reservoir?

dohebert (author)MissBetsy2015-09-09

The reservoir is from a canister set; I chose the one that says "Coffee" for this project. The antique/junk store up the street from me (where I picked up an even nicer carafe this past weekend) has a set of three copper canisters for $15 that I should go back and buy ASAP. One of them is labelled "Tools," which I kind of like. The coffeemaker in the photo is for my lovely fiance (who enjoys her coffee very much), so I'm thinking about making a couple more and seeing what they might sell for. It's a fun project and I thank you for the inspiration.

dohebert (author)dohebert2015-09-09

The fancy sides of my box, by the way, are just pieces of molding available at any Lowe's.

glomscient (author)2014-06-10

I shall quite enjoy making one of these! It shall (hopefully) help steer me away from my addiction to that carbonated snake oil from "the man on the mountain"!

crnidamir (author)2013-10-18

This is bautiful!!

compatta (author)2012-09-05

GOod job! I was wondering for all the people who want to make properly made coffee, do you know what the temperature is of the water that is going out of this maker?

Tri Danimal (author)compatta2013-10-17

The proper temp of water for making Coffee should be just about 202 def F.

theoblackadder (author)2013-04-21

I like your design. I am currently designing a steampunk coffee maker and the idea of running a food grade pipe inside the copper pipes removes the risk of contamination from the copper or the solder - nicely done if I may say so.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2013-01-24

Love your work.

repguy2020 (author)2013-01-21

Beautiful work, Steampunk or Deco. I don't care, I like it. Who knew what lurked within your household coffee maker?

jockenfels (author)2012-12-15

Thank you for the great build! Followed / tweaked your ideas for a very appreciated Christmas gift today.

jockenfels (author)jockenfels2012-12-15


MissBetsy (author)jockenfels2012-12-16

Looks great! I'm flattered I gave you an idea for your X-mas gift :)

zomfibame (author)2012-06-22

too cool.

aidan1985 (author)2012-03-11

This isn't "steam punk" if anything its Art Deco.

You have been on this site since Jun 13, 2007, And this comment is all you have to show for it?

Junophor (author)2012-03-15

Hi Miss Betsy
Take a bow for this great project A real "steampunk work" in the meaning of the word.Great job

One day I hope to realize a project in my mind switched on and off by a marble stirling engine powered with steam. So your instrtructable is a good inspiration for it

Cheesr Aeon Junophor

tmn8tr (author)2012-03-12

I think she did a great job, and it opens the door for anyone else with a creative side. I don't think anyone should ever leave negative comments to a person who has had the courage to share their ideas with the world.
Perhaps it isn't "Steampunk" by the very definition, but all it's missing is the brass/copper water reservoir, and decanter/caraffe. Who could find a big enough piece of brass tubing for either on such short notice?

MissBetsy (author)tmn8tr2012-03-13

Thx guys for standing up for me but I am not offended by the remark "my coffee maker not being steam punk but Art Deco".
For once, I really like Art Deco and some influences can't be denied, on the other hand this project really involves steam, doesn't it?! ^_o

Coffee Grinder (author)2012-03-13

Haha. I think its funny that people quibble about the genre. It's great MissBetsy. If I had the time I would try that for myself although not being much of a handy man I'd probably lose a finger or two in the process. I don't supose you'd consider ... ah...never mind. ;)

wrsexton (author)2012-03-12

Nothing wrong with Art Deco. In fact, I personally prefer diesel punk to steam punk, and using stainless steel tubing instead of copper would transform this item nicely to that art deco based genre.

zeroaxe (author)2012-03-11

Love this project. I might just make one too (if you dont mind!)

MissBetsy (author)zeroaxe2012-03-11

Of course not! That's what instructables are for.

CarlosP (author)2012-03-11

At last a use for the leaking water bottle! I have a water bottle like the one you used as reservoir with a hole in the bottom. I knew I was saving it for something! Come to think of it, I also have a disassembled coffee maker in the garage and a box of copper plumbing fittings. I think I will assemble my own version next weekend.


MissBetsy (author)CarlosP2012-03-11

Let us see at least some pictures!

nathan.earley (author)2012-03-11

Might I be so bold as to ask how the coffee tastes that comes out of this contraption? I love the look, and would love to have one of my very own (should I ever have the time and resourcefulness to put one together!)!

MissBetsy (author)nathan.earley2012-03-11

After flushing the "contraption several times, the coffee doesn't taste any different than with any other coffee maker I ever possessed. But let's be honest, who can afford coffee these days?

eielofview (author)2012-03-11

Hmm I wonder if I can make this with a cigar box..

natetetete (author)2012-03-11

This is very cool! Plus I got to learn how classic drippers work, no idea the heating element in the base also heated the water. Pretty clever.

FYI you can get pretty cheap copper sheets at Well its not really that cheap :P Maybe $15.

Geordi (author)2012-03-10

This is one of the best, if not the best, coffee makers I have ever seen.
I do believe I must try hand at this wonderful device. I am a bit of a coffee lover so when I arise in the morning not only will I have a great cup of coffee
but a piece of art work to put a smile on my face as well.

My hats off

longwinters (author)2012-03-09

Are you telling me I have to dig around in my bomb shelter to find my coal powered coffee maker?
What's next an instructable on how to put sheilding on my uranium tea heater?

I check in here several times a day time permitting and this is one of the reasons I do, I just love this project.

I hope this does not insult your artistic inclination but a copper or brass base would have been the icing on the cake, a thin piece over the wood base would not require any special tools, and some brass head nails would look like rivets, as you spill coffee and water on it a cool patina would develop.

I would have used that 12v switch, but that's just the kind of rebel I am,
thanks again for a fun instructable.

MissBetsy (author)longwinters2012-03-09

Do you have any idea of copper prices these days? People actually steal outside AC units just for the tubing, so the copper base died....;-p
And well, how I actually found out that this was a 12V switch is that I hooked it up, turned it on and the whole thing looked like miniature H-bomb, a blinding flash and the telltale smoke ring :(
But thank you very much for your comment and should you go to the shelter don't forget to bring up the coal powered coffee maker please!

longwinters (author)MissBetsy2012-03-09

Now people have a tendency to make fun of us one eyed electricians,
but I will tell you that those of us who camp have long owned the Coleman Coffee maker you just set in the fire, a burner, or dare I say coal(s)

Now I'm off to try and convince a fellow steampunker to accept some free neon lights I found at a second hand store, I think he's a little paranoid, maybe he thinks I'm an internet scammer, like anybody has ever been ripped off on the web, well there is always a first.

Oh and thanks, today as I made my way through the second hand store I had to spend five extra minutes reminding myself I don't have time to steampunk anything right now, especially a coffee maker.

Winged Fist (author)2012-03-09

Wow! Pure caffeinated genius! This is the rarest of rare steampunk projects that actually involves steam;-) Kudos and 5 stars and thanks for ongoing inspiration;-)

MissBetsy (author)Winged Fist2012-03-09

Yes, that REAL steam thing was irresistibly intriguing. I might look further into it....

mikolynn (author)2012-03-09

Wow! Somebody present me last week with an HTCMM ( wich means Horrible Taste Cofee Maker Machine) last week, and I do not know what to do with this Junk...
Hitherto... If finally I do it, I post my final result I promise! Thanks!

MissBetsy (author)mikolynn2012-03-09

How about you repurpose it as a "Ramen noodle machine"??? We would love to see the results!
May the force be with you.

About This Instructable




Bio: You might call me "Jane of all trades, mistress of none"; "all" is definitely an exaggeration but I am interested in lots of "trades" and ... More »
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