Disclaimer: The following has been edited to preserve the delicate flower sensibilities held by potential readers. Where the narrative seems disjointed please mentally insert your most depraved and disgusting epithet. It's not quite the same thing, but it's as close as you'll get.
So I wanted to build a steampunk hand. Every Steampunk maker, at one time or another, gets it into his head that he needs to make a steampunk hand. Go google 'Steampunk Hand' or 'Steampunk Arm"; I'll wait.
I'm not going to pick apart the workmanship of everyone else who has attempted this project in earnest. But, broadly speaking they are all ~sherbet~. Yes that's a matter of personal opinion; mine. If the goal is to represent a Pseudo-Victorian Era mechanical limb as might be employed to replace a hand that has been blown to pieces, then all of the results I have seen so far suffer from one fatal flaw. Some of them suffer from two. Most are made out of trash materials (plastic, leather in a structural role, etc...) and all of them have a living hand tucked up in there somewhere. By necessity then, the hand built will not look anything like a hand built to replace a lost hand. It just can't. It might be grossly over-sized, or it might simply be a decoration for the living hand with bits and pieces of the real hand or a glove showing through.
I solved the first problem by using only appropriate materials; for metalwork, this means I use metal.
The second problem is even easier to fix. I just found an amputee.
In the second photo is myself (wearing the apron) and Kyle Earl. Kyle is a retired Marine who lost his hand to an IED in Iraq. He was featured on Yahoo! News' 'Remake America' video program. I noticed that it had been about 2 years since his hand was removed but he went about his daily routine without one.
This got me wondering why? Maybe the basic prosthesis didn't offer enough utility to justify the hassle. Maybe.
Maybe he's a ~firetrucking~ Marine. When a Marine loses a hand do you pour some jelly into a mold and let it set up into his new one? Not on my watch.
So I offered to build him a golden mechanical hand. Not to replace the hand he lost so much as to replace the empty air that occupied that space now. The VA has already hooked Kyle up with the Darth Vader robot hand but even while that will help in his everyday activities, it's not a golden hand.
Kyle does a lot of outreach work and plays on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team, so we got together and worked through my plan to build him an exhibition hand. Something to get people's attention. The first stage is winding down and it's really turning out well.
What follows is some of the process I used to build this hand.