Introduction: Modifying Welding Goggles Into a Steam Inspired Look

Picture of Modifying Welding Goggles Into a Steam Inspired Look

I wanted a pair of goggles. I told myself it was because I wanted to use them for sunglasses, or that I wanted them when I rode my bicycle. Really, I just wanted a pair of goggles for the reasons that I just wanted a pair of goggles.

For this project I used one pair of cheap welding goggles found at my local non-chain hardware store.
Some leftover black suede from other projects.
Epoxy. Hmmmm, I loves me epoxy.
Some of that Fusion plastic pain in black.
Some acrylic brass colored paint.
Some brass jinglies left over from some other jewelry project.

I am often inspired by Steampunk asthetics, and was going to work on something much harder before I found the forum at Brass Goggles. There is even a thread titled The Definitive Goggle Thread where a wonderful person named TheRedMax suggested welding goggles as a launching point.

Previous to that I was going to cut and shape colored plexi and attach it to brass or PVC painted fittings. As fantastic as that would be, my laziness coupled with an intense desire for instant gratification won out. Plus, the welding goggles were only $8 and some change. That was far cheaper than my original plan.

This project could be done in one or two days depending on drying glue or paint times. It took me the better part of a week because I was ill with acute tonsillitis. Epoxy is nausea inducing by itself let alone when you are already ill from your tonsils going bad. I tend to tinker when nervous, so here you go.

(Not to worry! I go to surgery today in a couple hours to get them out. I am going to ask if they will give me the tonsils, but I suspect that request will be denied. If they do give me my tonsils I will post a picture, I promise.)

As a side note, my camera is very old and in poor condition. For some reason it shoots colors oddly, and is in general a pain. Please forgive the nature of the pictures, and the wonky colors.

Step 1: Get Your Goggles

Picture of Get Your Goggles

Get a pair of cheap plastic welding goggles. I got mine for eight dollars, and some change, at a local non-chain hardware store. They are pretty cool with screw off front bits, and a green lens and a clear cover lens.

I found out from a wonderful man named Kabuki in the thread that lens darknesses range from a rating of one to ten, with one being the lightest and ten being the darkest. He stated:

3 is sufficient for soldering with a torch, and 5 is sufficient for brazing. 5 is a little dark for, say, sunglasses replacements, but 3 or 4 would be great.

I found that fascinating.

Mine came in a horrible teal color, but that didn't bother me. I knew I would be covering them anyways. There is also elastic to hold them on your head. I am sure some folks might like to trade that out for a leather strap, but my head is tiny, and sometimes I wear dreads that make it huge. Elastic fits that every changing hair extension induced head dimension.

Step 2: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

You may not need to do this step if your goggles fit your head. As I have said, my head is a tiny girl head, and the goggles were a bit large and funny compared to my head size. This necessitated some sanding and shaping. I just took some sand paper and sanded it down in areas that were uncomfortable until it fit better. I could have probably used my dremel to do this, but my husband was sleeping at the time.

I basically sanded a bit, held it to my face, and sanded some more. I had teal plastic bits in my eyebrows.

Step 3: Covering With Leather

Picture of Covering With Leather

I then cut a piece of black suede out of some scraps I had. Make sure you have enough to wrap not only around the goggle, but that would fold into the inside as well. I took the straight edge, and lined it up just under the threads where the lens caps went, and epoxied it on. I was careful not to glue the area where the elastic head band went through on the front or back. It's also a good idea not to mess with the threads that hold the lens caps, either.

Once it was glued around the outside, I trimmed it down a bit, and folded it inside and glued it in as well. I cut darts where needed, and smoothed it down.

I have no really good advice for this other than locking the cat out of the room. Epoxied cats are no fun.

I just glued, and held it. I ended up with my fingers epoxied, but am glad to say I did not glue myself to the pieces. I had bought six minute epoxy, but in hindsight six minutes is a longtime to hold a piece of leather to a goggle bit. If I do this again, I will use the three minute epoxy instead. I guess, just keep at it even if it doesn't look like it's going to turn out. Eventually there will come a point where you have to stop fussing with it, as well. Go for it, epoxy is fun!

I need to note, that the camera is picking up every dot of epoxy on the goggle bit, but to the human eye it's completely unnoticeable. What is noticeable is the white center of the suede.

Step 4: Finishing This Piece

Picture of Finishing This Piece

I didn't like the look of the suede overlapping very much, so I used a retractable razer and trimmed it down flush.

I also cut the holes for the head strap out. I just felt through the suede with my finger nail and used the retractable razor to cut holes in the leather right over where the original holes where already at.

Then I got excited, and put the elastic strap back in. I could have waited, but waiting isn't for me. I had to use my tweezers to push the thing through, because it was a tight fit.

To get rid of the white interior stripes on the black suede, I used a black sharpie marker. They come in all colors these days, so I suppose this could work for any color leather theoretically.

It was virtually seamless to the naked eye, but the camera has picked up the seams.

I also forgot to take pictures, but there was a little plastic sheath for the chain that goes in the middle. I covered that in black suede, too.

Step 5: Lens Caps

Picture of Lens Caps

Next, go back to the lens caps you took off to work with the goggle base. Put tape of some sort in the interior to cover the threads so no paint, epoxy, or what-have-you gets on that part.

I wanted my lens caps to look like there was the intimation of rivets. I got the idea at the Brass Goggles forum from a gentleman (I can't seem to find the thread, or his name! ) that he used glue dots, or googley eyes for rivets before painting. Googley eyes would be too big, but glue dots were worth a try.

I just doted my epoxy around the rim in equally spaced dots. I was dubious that this would work.

After the glue was dry, I spray painted them with a base of the Krylon Fusion plastic pain.

Then I dry brushed them with brass acrylic paint.

The pictures do not do justice to how nice the brass dry brushing turned out. I also have to say the glue dots worked far better then expected, and I am in that gentleman's debt for the tip.

We are almost done, now.

Step 6: Embellishement

Picture of Embellishement

I decided the sides were too plain, so I added some brass bits from a jewelry project.

I soldered all the joins on the jewelry piece so it wouldn't fall apart, then just sewed it on with heavy button thread through the leather. I used the Fraycheck to seal the knot.

As a side note, I always solder my jewelry bits, like the jump rings and stuff. I am hard on jewelry, and try to make sure I create things that take into account my penchant for disaster.

Step 7: Ta Da!

Picture of Ta Da!

Now I am done. See my horrible attempts to take pictures of these. I fail at cameras, and washing my bathroom mirror.

Now off to get my tonsils removed. Please enjoy the tutorial, and any comments or edits will be done when I am done being sick with the general anesthetic.

I got the tonsils out, and finally came around, so I edited this for typos and clarity.

I also tried to get my tonsils from the surgery center. They said they couldn't give them out related to hazardous waste and all that. I promised I would put a "Warning: Do not eat" sticker on them to no avail. The surgeon then made Hannibal Lector jokes which endeared him to me greatly.

It's too bad really, because they would have looked great in my work shop for that bit of mad science flair.


kretzlord (author)2011-10-08

Absolutely fantastic! i've been looking for the right way to work my way into steampunk and you've provided it for me. Great instruction makes a great instructable

kb1012 (author)2011-05-15

I just wanted to properly thank you for posting this - it has inspired me to make a pair of my own! Granted, they aren't for me - they're for a craft swap - but I still appreciate the informative inspiration! I also made a storage compartment for them using one of those pre-formed paper mache boxes...perfect for stashing away all those important, mad science-y secrets!

Thanks again!!

HeresyOfTruth (author)kb10122011-05-15

Wow! Those look great. I'm really impressed! You definitely out did mine! Wow!

Stormy_rayne (author)2009-01-12

Awesome job, you have managed to infect me with the want to make these myself, they sure beat paying those prices online for them.......why buy when you can make yourself

I think that is a most excellent sentiment. Why buy anything that you can make yourself? I much prefer homemade and diy. If you make some of your own, post a picture so I can see!

2 stroke (author)HeresyOfTruth2010-09-30

we have black gogles the exact same but black in out welding class

sorry for the late responce, but of course i will, crafting is what i cove to do, though i don't think they'll come out as good

co2wms7whcc (author)2010-08-15

This is my pair, I found you instructable the day I finished them.

BlackIceRedbone (author)2010-04-15

 Hay I have a tip... use Hot glue for rivets instead of Epoxy

mattimusmaximus (author)2009-08-10

nice, like the rivet dots, tres cool

TBJ5 (author)2009-05-12

I have these green goggles as well, and your modifications make the ones I tried kinda pathetic (the green is pretty annoying). I'll give this a shot, hopefully it turns out as nice as yours.

Ry- (author)2009-04-06

I desparately want to do this. I'd wear them to school. My dad won't let me due to he thinks it's weird and bizarre. He never likes anything I like or what I do...

Farrelbark (author)2009-03-04

ok, now how much suede, and what shape should I cut out for dis? BTW, awesome concept, and soo easy! *2 thumbzors up*

HeresyOfTruth (author)Farrelbark2009-03-04

I just used scraps I already had. Not even an 8x11 inch piece. Perhaps a 3x5 index cards worth for each side? I just held the goggle to the suede, and just sort of cut out a rectangle piece that was wide enough at the widest part of the goggle, after folding inwards. It was a lot of holding and guessing, really.

HeresyOfTruth (author)2009-02-09

I used 3 minute epoxy, but if I had to do it over again I would use 60 second epoxy because 3 minutes is a long time to hold something until it sticks. I think just about any glue that will stick to both plastic and leather would work. 777, or household goo, or whathave you. I went into the store, and read the directions to make sure it stuck to both, and picked that way. Good luck with your project. Post pics if you make one. That would be cool.

HeresyOfTruth (author)2009-02-08

Ha ha! thanks. If I could sneak more Steampunk into my nursing uniform, I soooo would.

HeresyOfTruth (author)2009-02-08

They are just basic cheap welding goggles. I got them at a hardware store that also sells welding supplies. I have seen them online under "welding goggles", and at welding supply stores locally. I'm in the US, and they seem to be wherever you find welding supplies. I hope you can find them in Sweden, too!

MrLouque (author)2009-01-26

neat, where did you get the goggles though?

HeresyOfTruth (author)MrLouque2009-01-26

I went to the local hardware store. It was one of those cool mom and pop affairs, that carries a little of everything. I've also seen them at the welding supply places that I have been to.

draik41895 (author)2008-12-29

i just got my tonsils taken out and no they wont let you keep them

HeresyOfTruth (author)draik418952008-12-29

I know. I'm a nurse, and knew the surgeon, so there was a possibility for me, though. I do think they have to keep your parts if you are of a religious mind that believes you need to be buried with them, though. I have heard of amputated legs being saved, and whatnot. Hopefully you are not too sore from your surgery.

Asbestosy (author)2008-10-30

I just did this, turned out awesome. Have yet to try and thread the elastic though... will be doing that tomorrow once everything has dried/cured. Also, I apparently suck at making glue dots :( didn't like the look so I yanked them off and just painted over.

HeresyOfTruth (author)Asbestosy2008-11-06

Very cool! If you get pictures, you should post them.

Jinglesmar (author)2008-10-07

Those are great! And a great tutorial, too! And whats up with the docs and your tonsils? They're YOURS, after all!

HeresyOfTruth (author)Jinglesmar2008-10-07

Thanks very much. Apparently, I was not allowed to have my tonsils for fear that someone might lick and/or ingest them causing a spread of pathogens. No amount of promising to prevent my friends from licking them helped, sadly.

eman_p (author)2008-07-14

Ok, it's so cool to see this here... I was looking at goggle instructables and imagine how surprised (at first) to see your username...

I came 'cause I saw these instructions from another site:

Awesome job with yours!

HeresyOfTruth (author)eman_p2008-07-15

Ha! That's so cool to see you on here. Very cool indeed. Thanks for the compliments.

grayfaction147 (author)2008-06-04

How exactly do you "dry brush" the brass paint? I am making a pair like this and really don't want to totally screw up the whole project.

It's very simple, like you would dry brush anything. You put on a base coat of a darker color, in my case black. Then I had some brass paint. I used a clean brush, one that was all splayed out, and not going to ever be any good again. I barely tipped the brush in the brass paint, then wiped the excess off on a piece of paper until barely any was there. Then I very lightly brushed the brush over the black goggles. Go in light coats, adding a bit at a time, until you have what you want. It's a good technique to bring out the details in a piece.

r3db0x (author)2008-05-21

Wonderful! I have this exact pair of goggles at home, but really despise the green. I was worried about painting the eyepieces (don't want paint flakes on my face), but covering them with cloth is just brilliant. Thanks!

pyroman50 (author)2008-05-13

way cool I'm totally going to make these

HeresyOfTruth (author)pyroman502008-05-13

Very cool! Post pictures of your project. I would love to see it.

pinkwerewolf (author)2008-04-11

Are you a Toy Soldier in Dr.Steel's army? If not you should be, .... and by the way you look like my twin sister. Cool goggle guide! Im on it now!!

I have not met this Dr. Steel. I would need to know his plans to make sure they do not overlap with my own, for world domination.

Not heard of Doc Steel?!? Sacrilege!! Just go to and check it out. You can also find a few cartoony music vids around the net.

Grmgunner (author)ColbyCirca892008-05-12

I love dr. Steels music vids :)

Cruiz Lee (author)2008-02-03

l just finished my own goggles based on your instructions. Thanks for putting them up.

HeresyOfTruth (author)Cruiz Lee2008-02-04

I am glad you found it helpful. If you have pictures of yours, you should post them! I would love to see how you did yours.

boboTjones (author)2008-01-26

If you go to an actual welding supply, you should be able to find a pair of welding goggles that already look like your finished product. I just saw a pair yesterday.

HeresyOfTruth (author)boboTjones2008-01-26

Really? My welding supply place did not have leather covered goggles, with brass bobble earing charms hanging on the side, with a brass dry brushed finish.

boboTjones (author)HeresyOfTruth2008-01-26

Yeah, that came out a bit harsh, didn't it? I should never post before coffee. I found a pair at midwest welding that you would not have had to disassemble and paint. They also have the bits at the sides that you added by hand. I need to go back this week, I'll see if I can get some sort of manufacturer and part number for them. But you're right. Typically welding gear doesn't have glass charms hanging on the side. That part you'd still have to do yourself.

HeresyOfTruth (author)boboTjones2008-01-28

I suppose I came out with a bit of snark as well. I think I might have read that as worse than it was. My apologies.

Rectifier (author)2007-10-27

Great instructable! I have wanted a pair of goggles for awhile too. Wanted to be a bit different from yours, but I looked for ages for welding goggles, and eventually had to use my work account to buy the exact same pair from Acklands for $4. Didn't undercoat the goggle rings, and the green streaking showing through looks remarkably like corrosion on old copper. The sides were to be sprayed black with Krylon (i've no idea where to get or how to work with leather), but my can had nothing but rattle left in it. I painted them with ordinary flat black paint, and they came out quite nice, I think. If you scratch them even gently though, it peels. The coppery brass paint, however, is quite tough. I do so want a pocketwatch, but can't find one by halloween. I'll have to buy one on Ebay before the next costume-requiring occasion. And I have some great plans for a hand cannon, as well. The jacket, by the way, has tails that can't be seen in this pic. I really quite like it.

HeresyOfTruth (author)Rectifier2007-11-02

You might be able to find a plain pocket watch at a normal store. I found mine at Target for $10 one day. I have seen them at Fred Meyers for about the same. You look great in that pic! Very cool.

ExtraMedium (author)2007-06-04

hey has anyones seen the goggles trent reznor from nine inch nails was sporting in her video for closer & prolly many other video the were tres bien i need them p.s. i love those goggles u made and have started on a modified version already thnx

Thanks! You should post pics when you complete yours.

benhudson (author)HeresyOfTruth2007-10-24

You are referring to the goggles, not the sex change, right? :P

HeresyOfTruth (author)benhudson2007-10-24

I meant the goggles, but hell why not. Pics of the sex change too. Woot!

benhudson (author)HeresyOfTruth2007-10-25


benhudson (author)ExtraMedium2007-10-20

I do hope you mean 'his', unless Trent has had a sex change since I last checked :P

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