Introduction: Steampunk 4 Gig USB Drive

Picture of Steampunk 4 Gig USB Drive

This drive is made of brass, copper, solder, watch parts and glass.

The cap screws on securely and the glass lights up blue when transferring data.

I like to think of this as a USB drive from the 1800s.

4 gig USB drive with Windows ready boost.

More of my work can be viewer here:


TheWhiplash (author)2010-03-24

I was just wondering how you found the glass for the back? did u use an old light bulb or what? This is really cool! thanks for posting.

Thank you,
It's a car headlight bulb I found at the local salvage yard. I do a lot of work with glass and have a special glass grinder that keeps the work wet while cutting. I'm not sure how you would cut one if you don't have access to a tool like that. The "heat and cool" method won't work and a traditional scoring glass cutter won't work either. A place that does custom glass work should be able to do it very easily.

fstop570 (author)Steamworkshop2014-09-10

Hello :-)

I'm wondering if you can give me a link to the type of tool you use for cutting the glass. I used a regular scoring for a vacuum tube and it came out ok but a little chipping here and there.


Kaelessin (author)Steamworkshop2010-06-29

Ah i knew that shape was familiar . . .I just replaced my old headlights and now actually have a legitimate reason for having kept the dead bulb!

jseverance (author)2011-11-17

Old thread, but in case Reader is looking for general technique/info- for patina ("antiqued" finish) use Liver of Sulphur on brass, copper, silver, etc. There are other techniques (hard boiled eggs, ammonia/salt, vinegar/salt, etc) depending on the metal you are using, the depth/type of color you are looking for and the size of your piece. Google patina info. I've been successful using lower temp solder & hand-held butane torches for art/jewelry pieces- I've only needed to braze weight-bearing or structural work. Also, I've cut, ground to shape, finished edges & etched headlights and other high-temper glass with my Dremel (with extension) and a cordless drill. The sanding disc for the drill takes grinding plates just as well. :)

Steamworkshop, these are beautiful! Your attention to detail is fantastic! And I do envy you your "real" torches. :)

MurphyHarris (author)2011-03-18

the spiral looks great in the car light bulb.

J.A.R.V.I.S. (author)2011-02-19

Great! How do you build it?!?!

prosper58 (author)2011-01-20

What kind of solder would you use to do something like this? I haven't found any info that's descriptive enough. All i see is "solder", and not what kind. So far I've had to use hot glue to keep things together in my steampunk projects (which is a bad idea because of the residue). Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me a kind of solder that works for this.

Steamworkshop (author)prosper582011-01-23

Most of the connections are are brazed with silver solder. It requires very hot temps that can only be reached with a fuel/oxygen torch. I use oxy/ acetylene.

The wire on the top is held with plumbers solder fron the hardware store and a 100 watt soldering iron. I don't use that solder anymore. I braze everything now and only use the soldering iron for electrical soldering.

Chronos2187 (author)2011-01-17

How do you secure the usb drive in the middle inside the tube?

It's held in place with two part epoxy. I fill the plug end of the tube with epoxy before I slide the USB plug through. That way the plug is also held with the epoxy so it's very strong.

It helps to fill stick a piece of rolled up tissue in the plug to keep epoxy out of it.

-max- (author)2010-03-27

COOL!!! it looks all vintigy and old, but its hold 4 gigs!!!

fireraisr (author)2010-03-22

 Wow Man, I can't believe all the flak you are getting for this posting. Great build, it's truly a work of art. It's sad that there are people on here that want to beat you down because you linked to a store they could buy this piece from. In my opinion the slideshow itself is an instructable. Seeing the finished product of a skilled hand can be more educational than a 20 step instructable made by someone that has no idea what they are doing. Art is Art and we can learn a great deal just by looking at Art, otherwise we wouldn't have museums. Thanks for immortalizing your piece by posting it here.

alovon (author)2010-03-19

This looks great! A very nice job over-all. The LED is a cool detail as well!

Steamworkshop (author)2010-03-15

Thanks for the nice comments. I'd be happy to share some more details. This was my first slideshow and I never dreamed that it would generate so many views and comments.

The body and cap are made from copper and brass plumbing fixtures/pipes that I found in various flea markets, thrift shops etc... They could also be purchased new at hardware stores.

I use hard solder (1300 degrees) and an oxygen/ acetylene torch for most of the metal connections. The other metal connections are made with soft solder (375) degrees and a soldering iron or propane torch.

To shape the metal I use a bench grinder, belt sander, angle grinder, rotary tool, various files and sandpapers.

The light is from the existing LED on the USB card. There was no electrical work involved in this piece. I just made sure to design the case to show off the light.

There are no secret techniques used here. Grinding, soldering, scavenging and a lot of time.

nekojce (author)2010-03-07

Great Job!

Plasmana (author)2010-03-07

That is actually very nice piece of work! Steampunk is not really my style, but Im beginning to like it, I might even try make one when I get a chance...

Frogzard101 (author)2010-03-06

superb build sir. any chance of a how-to instructable?

Grooby (author)2010-03-06
Won’t it be heavy? But it’s very cool.
eshan (author)2010-03-06


hackthegrind (author)2010-03-05

Perhaps I misjudged the need for caps, my apologies.

Hardware & antique store, touche.

What about that antique finish on all of the metal parts?  Do you buy the parts like that or do something to it to give it that finish?

As far as this Steam Punk USB stick goes, how did you manipulate the metal cap that surrounds where the USB stick actually comes out of the Steam Punkified casing?  Cutting a rectangle in metal isn't easy.  Am I wrong in thinking it is metal in the first place?  Is is made of painted sculpey or plaster perhaps?  I am an artist myself, but I need some hints to get started.

It's all metal. No plastic in my work.
The piece in question is copper that I got from spliting a copper pipe and flattening it out. I cut the hole rough and finished it with small files. Not too hard really. After that I cut it CLOSE to the circle size but a little bigger. I used a drop of fast set eopxy  to stick the card to the circle and keep it straight. That just keeps it straight for the next step where I used JB weld to epoxy the stick and copper piece in place. Once it hardena I used a file to shape the copper circle to fit exactly flush.

That's the only metal connection that's not soldered. Obviously you can't use an acetalyne torch near a USB stick.

The parts start out as old plumbing fixtures I salvage, I cut and grind them into shape. The finish is done with a chemical patina that gives it a very heavy tarnish that polishes off. Different polishing techniques give it a different look.

weaponscollector94 (author)2010-03-04

hate to ask, but what exactly is "steampunk" is it a certain style?

It is a style. It's broad and kind of hard to nail down. Think of combining modern Syfy with with the look of 1800s industrial and you'll be close. The best way to find out about it is to google it.

It's kinda hard to explain, but it's like a sci-fi subgenre

Yeah, from what I gather it's rather like:
What would the past have been like if everything was powered by steam (and typically has copper and brass parts).
Google it up, it's quite cool.

groovy! i aught to try that sometime! lol

godofal (author)2010-03-05

this looks completely amazing!

instructabalize it please!!!

XOIIO (author)2010-03-04

Damn. That is sweet!

xenor (author)2010-03-04

Love the idea of using a screw cap for the lid. Hides the business end really well and it's a lot harder to lose the thing. Nice work!

Steamworkshop (author)2010-03-04

Thanks everyone. I'm happy to answer specific questions and help with technique.

Finding parts:
You have to be creative. I love flea markets, thrift stores, lower end antique shops and auto salvage "U-pull it" yarsds.
Old copper pipes, brass fittings and wire can go a long way. The brass fittings can be ground into cool shapes with a gringder and files.

Here's a link to a forum discussion where I broke down the techniques used on this piece and answered a lot of questions.,22570.0.html

Untold (author)2010-03-04

Isn't steampunk as much about art as it is about engineering?  Detailed instructions aren't appropriate for a piece of art.  This is beautiful work that inspires me to try and figure out how to do my own (different) version.  Many thanks for posting the pictures.

grunff (author)2010-03-04

Beautiful work Steamworkshop, thanks for sharing. Don't worry about all the "we want instructions" posts - a slideshow is far better than no slideshow.

Can you tell me how you worked the glass? How did you cut it off, and how did you grind it? I don't have any glass experience.

wocket (author)2010-03-04

I'd love to see an instructable of this, even if it's just with a few sketches and info on how to make the light switch on.

amando96 (author)wocket2010-03-04

 yeah just get a usb plug, LED, and 220ohm resistor...

Steamworkshop (author)wocket2010-03-04

The light is the easiest part. You just choose a USB drive with an indicator light and design the case to show off the light.

SkateboardingForLife (author)2010-03-04

 Very nice design, i really like how the cap screws off, i think i will look into some-what replicating it

quincentopolis (author)2010-03-03

 This is amazing, I bow before your greatness.  I AM NOT WORTHY!

sickdog74 (author)2010-03-03

WOW! I love it! Well done!

bassclarinet23 (author)2010-03-03

This is really great.

GreenPhantom (author)2010-03-03

Looks absolutely wicked. Looks 100% steampunk but still remains fully usable (some other mods are too...gaudy.)

And FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP HOUNDING HIM ABOUT LACK OF INSTRUCTIONS. That's what a slideshow is...a show of slides. If you want to make it so bad then go FIGURE IT OUT.

ivan536 (author)2010-03-03


designlogic2600 (author)2010-03-03

Very cool nice work

bloomautomatic (author)2010-03-03

Nice looking piece.  Where'd you get the glass piece?


The glass is from a car headlight bulb from the salvage yard. I cut it off at the base and ground it into shape.

kperkins (author)2010-03-03

Well it cool and all, but isn't instructables about showing how to make this kind of thing, and not just showing it off?

killerjackalope (author)kperkins2010-03-03

Slideshows are for showing off your work without necessarily explaining the making, either because you didn't document or you just want to show the finished product.


pilotaz (author)2010-03-01

 looks great!

Chromatica (author)2010-02-11


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More by Steamworkshop:Steampunk USB drive, Handmade "Submariner" altered artSteampunk pendant with tentacles and glassSteampunk 4 gig USB drive
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