Steampunk Cable Box & Caddy

Introduction: Steampunk Cable Box & Caddy

If like me, you've caught the steampunk bug, you've likely been looking around the house for things to "steampunk-ify," without annoying the significant other... Since we've redecorated our living room in an "antiquish" retro, oak decor, I've been trying to find creative ways to get the electronic components to match with the furniture, and this is where the steampunk motif has come in handy.

Most of our living room furniture is oak, including our entertainment console unit, so the shiny black cable box just stood out like a sore thumb. I thought about trying to build a cigar box case for it, but couldn't find one large enough, (and was concerned about how hot it might get, and also covering the infrared component). Quite by accident, I came across an open wooden box, and realized it was the perfect dimensions to cover my cable box. I also had a similar style box which was just the right size for our remote controls.

A few strokes of stain and a few brass trimmings later, we now having a matching steampunk cable box cover and remote caddy!

(And in case you are wondering; No! I don't plan on steampunking the remotes!;-)

This project took less than an hour (not counting the time for the stain to dry), and cost around $5 bucks.

Here's how I did it:

• two wooden boxes
• wood stain
• wood glue
• corner brace plates (brass corners)
• brass thumb tacks

• foam brush
• screw driver
• box cutter

Step 1: Choose or Make Boxes

I've had these two boxes kicking around for years, and don't really remember where I got them. But they were originally part of "gift baskets" of some sort, and likely came with assorted cheeses, sausages and other tasty treats. One of them is clearly marked "Hickory Farms" on the side. But if you don't have this type of box on hand, you can very easily build them from a repurposed fruit or vegetable crate, which you can likely get for free from your local grocer. You can also build something similar from the scrap wood from a wooden shipping pallet, or any scrap wood.

What's key about this type of box for the cable box cover is that it will not retain heat, as cable boxes tend to run very hot, and require ample ventilation. Another thing that's ideal about this design is that what will become the front of the cable box cover will not interfere with the infrared signal from the remote. Test your box before you go any further to make sure it doesn't interfere with the signal from your remote. Also make sure you have enough space in the back for the cables. (My cable box cover extends over the back of my console unit, to accommodate the cables running out the back of the cable box).

Note: These boxes don't need to be tremendously sturdy, as they're not (or shouldn't be) really bearing any weight or heavy use.

Step 2: Stain Boxes

Use your wood stain of choice, depending on what color you're looking for. (I guess you could also use paint, but I'm usually averse to painting wood). I used the last few drops of Miniwax brand Red Oak #215, which I had leftover from another project. I literally used the last few drops, and ran out when I was finishing the last panel, which is why it looks a bit thin and spotty on the side panel of the remote caddy.

(I didn't take pictures of the staining process, so just imagine paint drying!;-)

Let dry overnight.

Step 3: Constructing the Remote Caddy

The box I chose for my remote caddy was missing a piece of wood on one side, because in its previous purpose, this box rested on top of my modem and router, and I needed the back end open to accommodate the cables. But in order to hold the remotes, I decided to add closed sides to this box. So I went to my local fruit and vegetable store, and after loading my basket with veggies, asked the owner if he had a crate he could spare. He happily returned from the back with a perfect crate, and I scavenged one side panel from it. This thin balsa wood was easily cut to size with a box cutter, and is pictured above; before cutting, cut, after staining, before gluing and attached.

Glue panels to both sides of box.

(Since I ran out of red oak stain while finishing the caddy, I decided to go over this piece again with a coat of walnut stain. I really like the contrast of the dark wood with the brass trimmings).

Step 4: Down to the Brass Tacks

Once the stain has dried on your boxes, bust out the brass tacks! I decided to go with the "less is more" school of design with these items. You can add as many bells and whistles as you want, but since my main purpose was to camouflage my cable box, or at least make it not stand out so much, I decided to just add a few brass tacks, and a pair of brass corners, and decorated the remote caddy to match.

Step 5: Add Brass Corners

After you've decorated your boxes with brass tacks, add a few brass corners. (These were the biggest expense of this project, coming in at a whopping $4 at my local hardware store;-)! The packaging says "Corner Brace Plates," but I think brass corners sounds way better!

Step 6: Cover Cable Box and Add Remotes

Now pop your new Steampunk Cable Box cover over your nasty shiny plastic cable box, drop your remotes into your caddy, kick back and enjoy!;-)

If you like this Instructable, please consider rating it (just to the right of the introduction), and/or voting for it in one of the contests I've entered.

If you decide to make your own, please post pictures!

Step 7: Update: Steampunk USB Hub

I've since added some functionality to my cable box cover, taking advantage of the USB port in the front, by installing a Steampunk USB hub.

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea. The slats covering the box are simple, effective, and nicely done. Good job!

    Winged Fist
    Winged Fist

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! This was really quick and easy, and has accomplished the desired effect of making the cable box almost invisible, in a steampunkish kind of way!;-)


    Nicely done! Twas' a pity the the (vile) cable co. probably wouldn't like it of you to actually completely re-case the box... though I do love what you did with it... I shudder at the sight of the plastic ugliness peaking through... Really like the little remote caddy... I think that would be perfect as remotes here tend to get scattered 'cross the room.

    Winged Fist
    Winged Fist

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Electfire! Yeh, since I really don't "own" the cable box, and just pay an exorbitant monthly fee to rent it from the cable company, they probably wouldn't be to happy if I returned it one day with all sorts of cogs and gears hanging off of it;-)

    For the photos, I pulled the cable box forward so it would be visible. But for everyday use, the box is far back enough under the cover that only the "blue eye" of the infrared shows through, and not the "plastic ugliness." The remote caddy was so easy and inexpensive to make, I would recommend it for anyone who has spent hours looking for the remote that was hiding under a couch pillow!;-)