Steampunk Dog Tags/Key Chain

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Introduction: Steampunk Dog Tags/Key Chain

I've never been to crazy about this steam punk stuff, probably because when I was first introduced to it, was at Youtube, Several of the video's mention that it was born with a question "What if the British steam powered generation had gained more attention worldwide than the American industrial revolution had, steam punk represents this idea of how different the world might be?" I can't agree! While the concept is cool I thought all week how I can make a steam punk project that brings a little bit of the American spirit and ingenuity. I remember the first day I was getting geared up at Fort Knox, the lady who was printing the dog tags had this saying "I'm giving you these tags but you have to earn what they mean", I used to always think that she was making a bad joke because they are for identifying your body if you get shipped home in a box. But now I know she meant she never wanted to get them back. It hit me like a ton of bricks no matter what you do, you work for anything you do, even making something for an instructable, you have to earn your tags!

"Americanized" SteamPunk Dog Tags

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed:

Copper pipe
Dremel w/cutting disc's
Gas torch
Various pliers
Flat head screw driver
Work gloves
Lettering punches
Ball peen hammer
Engraver
Printer
Drill and bit
Dog tag chain

Step 2: Slice It! Spread It!

With a small piece of copper pipe in hand put a slice down the center of the pipe then slightly wedge it apart with a flat head screw driver

Step 3: Ready, Aim, FIRE!

Next start heating the pipe till it gets red, copper bends really easy when you add heat. Use a pair of pliers and start spreading the super heating copper out till it fairly flat. Take your ball peen hammer and start tapping it till flat, occasionally adding more heat. Once you have it as flat as it's going to get take a wire brush (or a bench grinder with a wire wheel) to clean it up and make it shine.

Step 4: Punch the Tag!

Starting the first tag is simple, make a tag size that your comfortable with (for mine I traced the ones I've earned). Take a straight edge and clamp it to the copper blank to line up the letter punches. Spell out your words by hammering out each letter side by side use a ruler to space them evenly. Once you have your letters punched out, trace out your scribe line with a permanent marker to make it easy to cut.

Step 5: Engraving Tag 2 to Honor the Insipiration

To honor the site that gave me the inspiration to show my work to the world I decided to for-go my regular logo's and give props to the instructables crew. Using a picture or a logo to engrave by hand is easy, Print it out, tape it to your work, then use the lowest setting on your engraver to trace out the design. it should be cutting through the paper and barely making contact with the metal below, leaving a light trace. set you engraver on a higher setting and re-trace the logo. once your happy with the engraving use your permanent marker again to trace out your cut line

Step 6: The Big Finish!

Now that you can see the tags it time to finish them up! Cut out the tags using a dremel, scroll saw or just a pair of shears. Find a center point on the top of your tags and drill a hole a little larger than your tag chain, with a fine sand paper finish the edges and buff the tags a little to get some shine into the scratches. To really give it a "been through battle" look take some Brasso metal polish and a rag and lightly hand polish the tags (Tip: Don't machine polish them it take to much of the dark and hammered spots out of the material)

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16 Comments

Dude, you went through a huge, unnessesary step. copper is naturally a very soft metal, so you can just hammer it flat. Making one now.

Your right it's a soft metal, heat just makes it that much more pliable. With heat its like rolling out tin foil. I subscribe to the work smarter not harder way, when I hit it with heat it about laid out flat without touching it, But sadly you can't take a picture of that so the hammer was just a nice effect.

Also think about those who are just trying it for the first time, they may not be as skilled with a hammer as you and I, Heat just makes working with copper that much easier with someone who has very little experience. So I felt it was necessary step to illustrate to those to keep them from giving up to quick, and I've always tried to leave ego out of my i'bles and think most people come here to learn.

But to those who've never done it, and reading this for the first time Jake's right, if you hammer on copper long enough you can get any shape, adding heat is just a shaping time saver.

I'd like to add: By heating the copper you'll also be annealing it (making is softer after it's cooled) and not work hardened from the cold work hammering, making any embossing etc. easier. Also forming it hot should result in a flatter and less damaged surface (smoother) since less force will be required than cold working. You can always reheat and quench after all work to get some of the hardness back. Also gives it an aged look.

But if you want just plain simple, the cold working is the way to go. But personally, I think a better finish will be achieved hot working the metal.

I have always wanted to make a dog tag but could never figure out how, sure I have one that I found but it isn't the same as a home made one with my name. Now that I read this it is all clear what I can do to make the tag. And since you are a veteran I thank you for your service. Great instructable.

Thanks for the comment, There are probably a lot easier ways to make tags but I was playing around with the steam punk stuff, looking for something that would be appealing to that style but I'd like as well.

would it be better to use sheet metal?

It was for a steampunk contest, Sheet metal would be preferable,but I was thinking a ton of the SP stuff is copper based, so I was thinking this was appropriate, i'bles judges didn't seem to think so...

Not to mention it seems like a lot of the contest winners tend to not put much work or thought into what wins (well at the time I posted this, that's the way it seemed), so I put together a quick little project that I thought might just be lazy enough to win.

All in all though (contests aside, which is initially what drew me here) its great sharing with others for advice and comments like this.

Nicely done.
And not to knock it. But what about this is steam punk?

I took it from a basic understanding by one of the moderators of the Irish Steam Punk group's site had commented to me. My question was exactly the same what exactly is to Steak Punk something. He gave me two explanations "At it's basic understanding to steam punk something is to take anything that is modern and made of superior modern materials (i.e Plastic, Steel, etc) and re work something that looks machine manufactured to use a medium that would have been more widely available (i.e. copper, brass, etc) and made by hand. Some even understand steak punk as to take something modern product and turn it inside out or more to the point; things we buy today we don't see the clockwork behind how they work".


So I guess my intention was to take something that could be made from better materials and to show the working with copper from a handmade perspective as traditional Steam Punk, I just didn't want to slap some copper colored paint on a project to made it look old and from that era to me that's just a cheat. The working of the copper was my steam punk intention.

Now, please don't delete this instructable by the argument I'm about to pose. (it's not directed at you and it's still a good valid instructable) This just happens to be a perfect place for this discussion..

In my opinion, and probably quite a few others, this is one of the underlying issues with the steam punk style. Yes, it does embrace the mythos of the continued Victorian era. The flawed understanding, by modern standards, of science. The extensive use of non polymer materials; wood, metal, cloth. and the existence of modern tech without modern advancements in materials and tech. But in turn the common activity of slapping a gear on or making it out of brass does not a steam punk make.
There needs to be research on the history of items and how they have evolved, and then in turn adapting it to how it might have evolved. This also goes for looking at past views of how the future could be, how we are supposed to be living by our ancestors standards. (i.e. the "Where's my Jetpack?" argument)
Now first thing first.
The Victorian era occurred from 1837–1901, this needs to be the basis of design and style.
Second, Research.
Now your dog tags views the logical progress of the tags (beyond the psychosomatic reasons instructors liked to beat into us during boot) and is quite right by the standards you were given. But you could have gone one of two ways with this.
Having been in the military and having done the research for Civil War reenactment. I have a decent knowledge of the history of them and of ones of the era.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_tag http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/dogtags.htm
One way you could have gone is like you did the change in form but kept the information styling and emblem imprinting of the old ones. Or kept with the older circular form with modern information styling.

Well that's my tow cents and its probably worth a load of rubbish. But that's for you to decide.