Picture of make a Steampunk pen knife
Here is how to make a Steampunk pen knife, this isn't a modification on an existing pocket knife, rather these are instructions on how to make one from only basic materials. This knife includes scissors, philips screw driver, imperial ruler, two sizes of flat screwdrivers, bottle opener, old fashion jar opener, can opener, file, wood saw, scribe and knife.

special note I have updated this with an additional step and the main image has been changed slightly, as a result of this some of comments apply to first 8 steps.

Step 1: Tools and materials

tools list
1 files
2 awl
3 dremmel with cutting disk
4 scissors
5 pliers
6 wire cutters
7 hammer
8 drill bits and milling bits
9 double edge tape
10 Screwdrivers
11 circle guide
12 blow torch
13 hack saw
14 taps, dies
15 hand held drill
16 rasp
17 vice
18 printer
19 basic photo editing soft ware
20 computer (although it's a bit of a given if you're reading this now)

optional tools
1 band saw
2 belt sander
3 drill press

1 steel bar 1/8.............................. $2
2 brass sheet 1/16 .......................$12
3 rosewood 1/4 .............................$5
4 Phillips Screwdrivers...................$2
5 brass rod 1/8 ...............................$4
6 brass tube 3/16 od 9/64 id.......$1.5
7 four small screws..........................$0.5
8 two nuts and two bolts.................$1
9 file....................................................$4

keep in mind that the price of the parts will vary depending on where and how you get the parts the list given is what I had to pay and I had some discounts for example the green steel bar was on the curb destined for the trash, the bolts were part of an useless attachment on my bicycle and the brass was floor scraps from a sheet metal shop, for $12. Even though some of these were free for me I still put what it would cost. To get the parts the best place to get them from is a local metal shops in a phone book ,the rose wood can be found in a music store for a guitar finger board, if you can't find it then go to a hardware store and get a wood such as maple or mahogany, if you cant find a metal shop locally then go to http://www.onlinemetals.com/ and all the remaining parts can be found at a hardware store.
budharpey.9 months ago

that's a cool project for training metal working skills... maybe i'm gonna try that...

Qwertyfish10 months ago
Did you heat treat the blade?
sconner13 years ago
Nice inlays, it really pops against the rosewood.
It would be cool to put only period tools in.
Phillips screws although superior weren't invented yet.
A straight shaving razor would be, even if it were difficult to use and maybe even downright dangerous.
I like the idea someone posted about including a clock key.
Steampunk is fiction after all so go ahead and add bluetooth :)
DIY-Guy sconner111 months ago

Beautiful concept.
I'd add a key to the Nautilus (Captain Nemo's submarine).

3366carlos1 year ago

outstanding project.

triumphman3 years ago
Excellent, anything hand made is awesome and stands in the face of mass produced chinese trash! Bully for you! Keep up the good work!
Thats awesome! I want to attempt to build one of these in the future. How hard was it on a scale of 1-10?
weasel9996 years ago
an easier way to get the metal pieces cut is plasmacam
but is anyone really gonna pay £5k for one just to do this project?
what material is B? looks like 1/8 steel but i can tell
Void Schism4 years ago
Great instructable. I have been thinking of building a knife for a while. It was very useful to see the stages of assembly.
antonia274 years ago
hey I really love the pen knife you made and want to try making it myself, but I have a couple of questions. could you please tell me the measurements of the metal sheets in more accurate terms? (height, width, length and which measurement system you use). also, i'm having a lot of difficulty resizing your template files. is there a way you could e-mail them to me pre-sized? i would be really grateful :-)
LaBeasy4 years ago
would it be better to just use a sawblade from a multitool or something else with teeth at more regular intervals?
alexander.m (author)  LaBeasy4 years ago
If take a saw out of a existing multitool then you will have compromised the usefulness of the tool. The saw its self didn't take tool long to make and it is surprisingly effective. I know I used an existing file then modified it to fit, but it was a cheap hardware store file, and making a file is vary difficult.
Very nice.
jhonny5 years ago
would you ever sell this and if so how much.
Foaly75 years ago
Can you add more blades & tools to this knife at all?
alexander.m (author)  Foaly75 years ago
 I could, but the that means that I would have to make; the new tool, the brass spring and I would need to replace the bolts and the brass tubes. This would be a rather time consuming job and I cant think of any other tools I would need to add. 
How2BRandy6 years ago
Where is the steampunk? This looks more like a horror prop for a rusty scenario.
the steampunk is in the fact that it's all handcrafted. the true spirit of steampunk lies not in the appearance, but in the hand-made quality that has been lost in the modern world through plastic injection molds and assembly lines. any true steampunk would know this.
So these handmade guitar picks of Mt. Rushmore are steampunk? http://blog.makezine.com/handmade_guitar_picks.jpg

Or a homemade rubber band ball?

It's clearly very wrong to claim that steampunk is only about hand-made quality. There are BOTH handmade things that are decidedly not steampunk, and classic steampunk things that are decidedly not handmade (railroad rails anyone?).

Yes, hand crafting is one efficient way to make something lean more toward steampunk, but without other elements, it will not make the cut. (And I do not see really any of those elements here. Materials would count, but pretty much every pen knife in the world is made of wood and metal...)
steampunk is modern technology cast in the production techniques of teh victorian era, eg. steam powered tanks or spacecraft or robots. the idea is to combine two very different levels of technology. If i were to judge i would say this is probably more accurately just victorian-looking, since i'm sure they already had the technology for folding knives in the 1800's.
I disagree with that definition as well, although it seems a bit closer. Modern people who dress in a Victorian fashion are very often referred to as steampunk, for instance, and are accepted as such by most of the major steampunk online communities. But that does not involve combining any two levels of technology. The notion of combining in general does seem central somehow, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe in the case of clothing, it is the mixture of a style/technology of dress, and a modern CONTEXT? Whereas with the pocket knife, the context is less relevant, because folding knives were prevalent both then and now, and as a result, it isn't anything so out of place or much of a change? Also, I would discourage latching onto any one specific defining characteristic in general. Most words and ideas of any kind are actually used in conjunction with more of a "cloud of features." For instance, you might have a list of things, like: -hand crafted -combinations of technologies/styles/eras/etc. -Aesthetics > Practicality -Romanticism -A nostalgic tone (usually when modern and Victorian are combined by steampunks, it seems to be more of an attempt to make the modern better as a result, not vice versa) -(And so on) Then, steampunk is defined merely as "The more of these features you have at the same time and the more strongly each feature is represented, the more strongly steampunk the thing or event or idea probably is."
well spoken, but giving actual genres vague definitions sort of defeats the purpose of genres. Just as cyberpunk has a defined style and defined literary characteristics, so too should steampunk. If you let the internet decide on what steampunk comprises, then yes, everyone wearing a top hat is steampunk. I think a narrower definition with actual content is more useful for describing both the aesthetic and the sort of objects that are built and considered steampunk. If you look at the steampunk keyboard on this site by Jake Von Slatt, for instance, you can see modern technology cast in past technology. The whole idea of steampunk is to have a modern society with modern problems and steam-based industrial revolution level technology. That contrast is what gives the genre its interest. Anything lacking one of those two is either just modern or just neo-victorian.
 Yes, folding knives were very much apart of the 1800's. (there's one that dates to the Roman Empire) The Multi-tool... not so common at that time?  I agree that this project is less "punk" than "steam". 
Why shouldn't the internet have a say in defining steampunk? A guy in a top hat is a pretty weak showing by pretty much any standard, but I think it's quite legitimate to say that full victorian dress in downtown manhattan is fairly steampunk, just by sheer volume of consensus on the internet. Especially since it's a largely internet movement.

Also, I challenge your notion that just because something isn't a crisply defined category, it must therefore be a useless category, or that we must be missing something. I don't happen to believe that ANY naturally evolving category in language is a crisply defined category... And I don't think there's anything wrong with that or suspicious about it.

Even stuff that you think is super well defined, like the category "chair" is almost always very fuzzy. "Has legs?" well no, not beanbag chairs. "You can sit in it?" Well no, not a dollhouse chair. "One could theoretically sit in it if they were the right scale?" Well no, not this chair http://www.designboom.com/history/stilllife/01.jpg And then what about benches or stools? They have legs, and you can sit in them. In fact, if you made it the right shape, I'd say you could probably make a piece of furniture that would only seat one person that people would call a "bench," just from the carpentry style. What about a picture of a chair (a la Magritte's "this is not a pipe.")? A chair that doesn't exist, but which you are designing in your head? A metaphorical chair (e.g., Jesus sits on the right hand of God)? What if I sit against a wall with my knees at 90 degrees and claim I'm on a chair, does that count as an imaginary/air chair? What makes it a chair (it doesn't even have material substance...)? What about this chair? http://radarjam.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/chairman_mao.jpg

If we are that far off of having a definition of common household nouns, then I think it's a pretty silly and uphill battle to try and pin down a definitive description of steampunk. It should be good enough to list things that characterize it.
existence of the tech in the 1800s means its not steampunk? that's a rather blatant oversimplification. Tech for folders? yes, as far back as the mid-1700s-albeit somewhat rare). That fact does not, however, negate the "steampunk- ness" of the item; I'm sure that they had steam technology during the 1800s. Does that mean, then, that a modern-day reproduction of a steam engine cannot be steampunk?.
H3xx smurfsahoy5 years ago
What if he made a notch in the side and put some gears from an old watch in it?
no, gears are far too cliche when it comes to steampunk. once upon atime it was nice, but the way they are now being overused (mostly bythose new to the culture), in most cases by being glued onto everypossible surface, the use of gears in steampunk artwork and items hasbecome quite tasteless with a few, albeit rare, exceptions.
I have to agree with smurfsahoy. SteamPunk is a specific kind of craftwork. It is a style. Otherwise, it would simply be called "hand-crafted." A Native American flint arrowhead is handmade, but it is certainly not steampunk. I like this Instructable a lot. But I don't see anything remotely Victorian-looking about it. My grandfather had a pocket knife that looked a lot like this, but it was made in the 1930s.
It may not be strictly dictionary-definition steampunk, but it is closer than anything I could come up with.
Atlas22 Foaly75 years ago
Why is it called a Steam "punk" anyways? Firts time i herd of this i thought it was some sort of rocker
Foaly7 Atlas225 years ago
Well, my best guess is to make it sound less nerdy. "Victorian- Era/ Current Technology Fusion" doesn't sound so appealing.
its called steampunk because it is a mix of steam powered era style and futuristic style. sort of as if the future happened in the past (if that makes any sense). and its punk because its a bit of that style thrown in. so really you can call anything that looks futuristic and also belongs in the steam powered era steampunk. and throwing in some brass wouldn't hurt
jhonny5 years ago
that is very cool
Aaronius5 years ago
Wow! Fantastic Job! I might try it and add a magnifing lens and aclock-winding key!
Wareagle6 years ago
oh my god! i had no idea that someone could do this. this is amazing work! you should start selling them and having people order them custom very cool.
alexander.m (author)  Wareagle6 years ago
Would you want to buy one?
Highest I would pay is $50. This is just SO awesome! And I never knew you could inlay metal wire in wood!
alexander.m (author)  Kaiven5 years ago

Well I am sorry but I would not sell this for any less then $500 CAD because it is vary  labor intensive, and takes about 40 hours to make. With that in mind I am not working for $ 0.45 CAD an hour. The reason why factory made pocketknives are cheap is because they have expensive specialty tools such as a die cutter and are made in countries where people will work for $0.45 an hour.  

Wooow! I had no idea how much time went into this! Great job man!
I'd buy one too (_)
I would = D
holy crap yes
I would buy one!
Foaly7 Wareagle5 years ago
Are you sure you don't just want to be lazy and buy one instead of build one? Or have you already built one? That is the question here isn't it?
For those of you who are inerested in "steampunk", I have a line of Steampunk accessories for sale.--even have rosenthals'transfer chamber.email danellwilliams@insightbb.com for info. ANDI think this guys knife is Rockin Awesome !!
79spitfire6 years ago
This is simply awesome! I think it looks steampunk! Great job and thank you! You should have won, but then again you don't need a Leatherman now!
smashbob6 years ago
great i'ble. cool idea.
smurfsahoy6 years ago
A superb instructable. I would suggest, however, that the "steampunk" be replaced with s more apt and less divisive adjective, such as "kickass," pending further justification for what makes this particularly steampunk.
Tut, finally made it here and what do you know, you preemptively stole my less devisive adjective! How dare you!...I feel like such a chair.
4290773036 years ago
very nice job. Just wondering how the strength of the attachments are. is the steel as strong and can it be sharpened to be as good as the equivalent swiss army knife?
alexander.m (author)  4290773036 years ago
thanks for the complement, for your concerns about the strength, the piece are very strong especially wen hardened. For example quench hardened steel is nearly impossible to drill with HSS drill bit. You could make the peaces even harder by Case hardening or using strong stainless steel, the reason I used mild steel and quench hardened instead of stainless and case hardening is because stainless didn't exists in the 19th centre and case hardening is far more dangerous then quench hardening. and to answer question how would it compare to swiss army knife?, it is sturdy and can be made just a sharp as a swiss army knife with a combination of a belt sander and a ceramic sharpening stone
Scammah6 years ago
Take that Swiss. This is just amazing just amazing
poparoo46 years ago
WOW! = O That's All I can say!
DarkSelenia6 years ago
Nice to see, that there's still people, who aren't afraid of metal and doing stuff from scratch. The knife's awesome! And why it couldn't be steapunk? Isn't the whole idea in it to invent and improve things? When there's been rayguns in victorian era in here? Some engraved ornaments to the blades with dremel, and it would be even better ;)
noremakk6 years ago
It's definitely not Steampunk, but it's a really good how-to-assemble-your-own-swiss-army-knife instructable, nonetheless.
whiteoakart6 years ago
You have really done a nice job of documenting this project and your process. Kudos. I'm not sure I would go to the trouble of making this particular knife. It seems like an awful lot of work for something that is readily available. Personally I'd rather spend my time making something unique and specific to my needs. However, your process and technique is very useful for making a specialized piece of equipment that I can't get in any other way. For example, just the other day I was wishing I had a pocket multi-tool for flute making. I really only need a few tools to make a flute, but currently, they are all separate instruments: A small gouge, a 1/8 drill bit, a small rat tail file, a 1/4" flat file, a 1/4" chisel, a flexible doweling saw, and a decent all purpose knife blade. I had considered deconstructing a nice multi-tool and rebuilding, but this is a much better process.
tripletlads6 years ago
Splendid work Sir - and yes the "multiplex" knife is indeed a steam era invention. It dates back to about 1891. You have done an excellent job replicating the the feel of the original models.
Very nice work! Could you, in short, explain the main principle of the locking mechanism?
alexander.m (author)  masynmachien6 years ago
thanks for the compliment, basically the bottom brass pieces work like a spring, and if you notice that the curved end of the tool has a greater diameter at the right side than the top and bottom, meaning that it bends the spring down when it is half way , the spring is only at rest when its all the way in or out, this system tries to push it to the far ends. Also there is a little tab which stops the tool from going more than 180 degrees, this is the same system that you will find on any swiss army knife.
Photo 1144.jpgPhoto 1146.jpgPhoto 1148.jpgPhoto 1151.jpg
Thanks for the very clearly illustrated answer. By the way, you have my vote.
alexander.m (author)  masynmachien6 years ago
Thanks for the vote, and if you use the scanned images I provided then you will have little difficulty getting it to work.
Pumpkin$6 years ago
So are you ever gonna do the steampunk notebook Idea I had?
alexander.m (author)  Pumpkin$6 years ago
static6 years ago
I'm neutral on this steampunk genre, so I'm not about to get into what is or isn't steampunk. Just don't have to to say that a lot of work on your part resulted in what looks to be a nice custom multi tool. Good work...
alexander.m (author) 6 years ago
I don't see how this wouldn't be steampunk, in the image there is a 1890 barometer, and the knife I made. Both of them are made entirely of brass, chrome free steel and rosewood with the only exception to this being different finishes and the barometer may have other internal materials. If you look at both of them you will notice that they have a great resemblance. Since the steam punk style is based on the Victorian era, wouldn't an item resembling something from that time , and be made of the same materials, be called steampunk.
Congratulations on one of the finest instructables on the entire site. There are many things I would have done differently, but mostly it comes down to personal taste. You might have actually inspired me to make my own steampunk multitool! This is the type of project that really embodies the maker spirit, and will inspire others to create their own one of a kind projects. To those saying "where's the steampunk?", it doesn't really get more steampunk than a hand crafted rosewood and brass tool! This thing rocks! Maybe if you take a new picture with flash you will see more of the red tones in the wood and bring out the flavor people think is missing.
volquete6 years ago
coolest pocket knife ive ever seen.
SinAmos6 years ago
Where is the steampunk?
Warlrosity6 years ago
I love it! i currently have a $1 nockoff
lemonie6 years ago
Whoa, what a job! How well do the scissors work? - I never find them to be much use on most knives. L
alexander.m (author)  lemonie6 years ago
The scissors work well on fabric and 1/64 sheet metal, but they bend, rather then cut paper and tape. However by cutting at an angle it works.
Yes there's always a knack to pocket-knife scissors, esp. after the spring has fallen-out... L
Very nice, with a wicked looking saw. Impressive work!
Kaiven6 years ago
Haha! Very nice mod you got there! I would do this to my multi tool... If I ever find it... One year :(
alexander.m (author)  Kaiven6 years ago
No this isn't a mod this was made from scratch, using only the parts in step one in the last image. If you view the scanned images you will see the individual parts and that they were made with simple tools not with super precise factory cutting machines.
Oh wow! That makes it all the better! You got my vote.
fozzy136 years ago
Well you won my vote, as I had tried to do something similar but couldnt..
bounty10126 years ago
not too steampunk-ish but with an victorian looking gold frame thing it would make it look alot better.
Ward_Nox6 years ago
just a thought but would making more than one with the materials lower the individual cost more?
That is sweet! That looks like a lot of work. How long did it take you to make it?
alexander.m (author)  LuminousObject6 years ago
If you use the scanned images I provided it would take two to three weekends to make this, you could also reduce the time by making it with fewer tools inside.