Introduction: Tiny Wooden USB Drive

Picture of Tiny Wooden USB Drive

I have been wanting to make a wooden USB drive ever since seeing this great Instructable on it. Recently the plastic housing on one of my USB drives got bent, rendering it hard to use. So I tore it apart and got to work. The thing that appealed to me about this one was that the critical component didn't have the metal sleeve around it so it started out super tiny. I could have made this even smaller than it is, but kept some length for a keyring hole.

 You don't need many tools to do this, so have fun!

EDIT: And there's now another wooden USB drive Instructable out there so check that one out too!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
You don't need much! You'll need a USB drive, obviously; for this Instructable you can see the size of the drive I'm using, sans metal housing. But the steps will be the same no matter how big or small the drive component itself.

You'll also need:
  • a saw (the smaller and finer, the better)
  • a chisel (if it's not sharp, check out my Instructable on sharpening!)
  • sandpaper
  • drill (optional) - for the keyring hole
Umm...I think that's it! Let's get started.

Step 2: Shim It Up

Picture of Shim It Up

[Skip this step if your drive already has the metal sleeve around it.]

As I mentioned in one of my comments in the previous step's picture, the USB drive as it is, in its bare state, is too thin to make contact with the USB port. So you have to glue a shim onto the bottom of the drive in order for it to make contact with the port.

So clamp up a piece of wood and then use your saw to slice off a thin piece for your shim. I use Japanese saws myself, love 'em!, but use whatever works for you. I cut my piece way too thick as you can see in the second picture, so I sanded away, testing in the USB port from time to time until the USB drive + shim fit well.

Step 3: Cutting the Stock

Picture of Cutting the Stock

So now you need to prepare the wooden housing for your USB drive. Let's start with the most delicate part first, the recess for the USB drive. In the other wooden USB drive Instructable, you drill into a wooden block and fit the USB drive into the slot you created from drilling. In this Instructable, you will chisel out a recess in one piece of wood and then glue a second piece on top of it. This will create a tighter, more seamless fit if done correctly.

Take your chisel and score your lines for the recess (with hand pressure or a light mallet tap). Be sure you are leaving enough of the USB drive sticking out so that it will go all the way into the computer! Always err on the side of not going far enough out - you can always expand your slot outwards later if it's not big enough. When checking for depth, try to get the USB drive perfectly flush WITH the shim in place (picture 2).

Next, cut out the block to the desired width. Since this is a tiny USB drive component, I wanted to go as narrow as possible. Be sure to leave a little extra for sanding and rounding off the corners, if desired (picture 3). The advantage with using a thickish piece of wood for your stock is that you can cut the second piece of wood at the same time and you'll be sure it will be the same width as its mate (picture 4).

Step 4: Shaping and Gluing

Picture of Shaping and Gluing

When you put your two pieces together, the USB drive should be pretty snug. It's okay if it's slightly loose as you'll be gluing it all together, and the glue will be plenty strong enough so don't worry. In the first picture, you can see that the wooden block is still pretty - ummm - blocky, but I'll sand that down a bit. But before you reduce the thickness, round off your corners first if that's the look you want. I broke apart my block (it's super lightweight wood) on my first attempt because I got it super thin first and then tried to shape it. Lesson learned.

After you've shaped your wood as desired, now's a good time to add your keyring hole. I did it pre-glueup but you could do it afterwards too. Then I glued my USB drive to the shim with super glue, and then the drive/shim component into the recess.. Looking back, I'd recommend wood glue for the second glueup, as the super glue discolored the wood slightly where the USB drive comes out. Then use wood glue to join the two pieces of wood together and clamp them together.

After the glue is dry, this is a good time to round off all those sharp edges if you want. Then I cut a thin strip of sandpaper and "flossed" the keyring hole so it had a more rounded-in look. Now you're ready for the finish!

Step 5: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

Now all that's left is to add your finish of choice! I went with boiled linseed oil for this one.

Thanks for reading, and hope it works out for you!


hi_i_am_derek (author)2017-04-07

can't wait to try in shop with some scraps. thanks so much:)

Kane Measham-Pywell (author)2017-03-01

Great ible will try to use this as inspiration for a project

Aw, thanks for your nice comment! :)

Niii Pawww (author)2016-09-17

Nice ibble

GarrettG2 made it! (author)2016-01-03

it is green but the wood makes it a lot better than the original plastic case

offseid (author)GarrettG22016-01-04


MauroC4 made it! (author)2015-06-18

great idea!! I made it for a usb drive that I found on the street... scrap wood works for all, isn't?

offseid (author)MauroC42016-01-04

Very nice, well done! :)

bushyman477 made it! (author)2015-04-21

I felt inspired, and so took apart my completely fine flash drive (because I can), and got to it. Makes it a lot harder without all the woodworking tools (it's quite blocky), but I'm pretty proud with what I have.

offseid (author)bushyman4772016-01-04

Blocky is good. It's got kind of a retro look, and hey, it's harder to lose!

thredbo made it! (author)2014-03-30

Awesome! I made one but my chip was smaller so my overall usb is smaller

offseid (author)thredbo2016-01-04

That is pretty sweet. I like the micro look. :)

Sethb1 (author)2014-09-23

I just started and i love it. Its so simple

Sethb1 (author)2014-09-23

I just started and i love it. Its so simple

gomibakou (author)2011-07-31

Really nice, although I'd add some cover for the connector to avoid problems in the pads.

offseid (author)gomibakou2011-07-31

Thank you, yes that's the main critique I expected to hear (especially because this USB drive has no metal sleeve), and a good one. I do hope to make a cap in exactly the same way as I did for this Instructable, with a slightly snug fit. I'm not sure that will stay on well enough, though. I'll update this Instructable if I'm able to pull if off.

gomibakou (author)offseid2011-08-01

if you can place some kind of thin hard rubber inside in one of the sides it should be enough to stay the cap in place. I think some straps of bike tires could work.

I think a cap is important because your device isn't protected against dust, rust, electrostatic discharge (i lost one due to one of these even with the metallic shield).

Anyway you gave me some idea to do with a partially broken pendrive i have :)

offseid (author)gomibakou2011-08-01

Hmm, I hadn't thought of that! Yeah and since the other side from the "business end" is wood, that should make decent contact/friction with the rubber.

Let me know if you do it yourself, and post a pic (or Instructable) if you do!

Electronics Man (author)2011-08-01

Awsome Job I love this!

offseid (author)2011-07-31

Great, thanks for the comment! If you do it, come back here and post a pic!

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy the process. Who cares how long it takes?
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