Instructables

Steampunk Socket/Switchplate

This simple instructable will show you how to turn pieces of scrap wood into rustic, steampunk-looking switchplates.

My father-in-law recently finished renovating the barbeque area (churrasqueira) of our Brazilian beach house, and the plain plastic switchplates just didn't fit with his amazing brick and woodwork. I decided to take a few pieces of scrap wood leftover from one of his other projects, and turn them into custom made steampunk switchplates.

Since my father-in-law and I started exploring the world of steampunk together last year, I thought he would appreciate seeing one of his projects get a slight steampunk makeover. Plus I hate seeing good wood go to waste;-)

These wood switchplates really add a wonderful rustic flare to our outdoor area that was otherwise marred by ostentatious and out-of-place plastic.

Note: I know these switchplates lack the usual cogs and gears and bells and whistles associated with "steampunk," but I think the wood and brass should qualify them for consideration in the genre. And ceratinly the repurposing of old scrapwood and the DIY nature of this project adds to the steampunk street cred;-)  This is also one of the first steampunk projects on Instructables (if not the first) posted from Brazil!;-)

Materials:
  • scrap wood
  • brass screws
  • gold metallic paint
  • pencil
  • Gorilla Glue (if necessary)
  • sandpaper (if necessary) 
  • wood stain (optional)

Tools:
  • saw (power or hand saw, depending on type of wood)
  • rasp
  • hacksaw blade
  • chisel
  • grinder (optional)
  • clamp (optional)
  • screw driver
  • paint brush


 
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Step 1: Select wood

I had a few pieces of a beautiful Brazilian hardwood, which was leftover from another project, which I decided to use. Brazilians call this wood is "Angelim Pedra," pedra being the Portuguese word for rock or stone. I don't think this wood has a name in English, but the botanical name is "Hymenolobium petraeum." It's qualities make it a popular wood for flooring, and door and window frames, as it's about ten times harder than oak. I also chose this wood because the width was already cut to almost the exact width of a standard switchplate.
extraspect2 years ago
I really REALLY like this, and was thinking of adding them to my office. A problem is that the boxes that switches and other electric devices are mounted in should be fireproof. If there were a spark from a defective device or wire joint and it hits the wood a major fire could start. The use of wooden plates may also be illegal in many areas.
BUT THEY SURE LOOK GREAT

EXTRASPECT
Winged Fist (author)  extraspect2 years ago
Extraspect: The actual boxes are made of plastic, only the switchplates are wood.

And this Brazilian hard wood is so dense that it would really need to be soaked in gasoline or some other accelerant before a spark started a fire.

I've seen wooden switchplates for sale at Home Depot, which are made of much more easily ignitable pine, so I'm guessing they meet fire code?

Thanks for your comments!
Junophor2 years ago
Hi Winged Fist
-Happy new Year-
A really nice idea.
I suppose now your home will get a complete new stylish steampunk look;-)))

Well done
Yours Aeon Junophor
Winged Fist (author)  Junophor2 years ago
And a very happy New Year to you Junophor and the rest of the German steampunks here on Instructables! Unfortunately my wife won't let me get away with turning our beach house into a steampunk emporium, but I will try to add a few elements here and there;-)
This might be your next step by step project for years........ to change the look inside;-))))
longwinters2 years ago
Good work, the wood reminds me of Paduk, it looks like a silica based wood that dulls saw blades for fun.

Steam and electricty seem almost anthetical, it is a fun challenge to force the two upon each other.
Winged Fist (author)  longwinters2 years ago
Longwinters, I'm not familiar with Paduk, but I have reduced a power drill to a paper weight trying hang hooks for a hammock in piece of Brazilian hardwood;-)