Introduction: Wood USB W/Custom Pyrography

About: It's dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Got a USB stick laying around? How about some spare wood?


That's right - It's totally time to make a wood USB key and customize it with a cool pattern, logo or phrase of your choice!

This instructable will take us through all of the materials we need, and steps to take in order to make a most bodacious and practical item for home use or to give as a gift to friends & family.

Let's begin!

Step 1: Items Needed

  1. Wood - This can be purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot, or at your local lumber yard. I chose walnut for this build, but just about any kind of wood will work! GO NUTS DUDES.
  2. Rotary Tool - I used a Dremmel 8820, which you can find here, but any rotary tool will do really. We need some good wood sanding bits. I used the ones included in the kit linked, but you can buy them separately here or at any hardware store.
  3. Miter Saw, Table Saw, Jigsaw - We need something to cut our initial piece of chosen wood down to size. I chose to use my Kobalt Miter saw, but feel free to use anything that will work for you.
  4. Hand Sander - I use a DeWalt Orbit sander, which you can find here. We'll need this to sand our cut wood quickly into the shape we desire. Pick up some coarse pads (80 grit) and some smooth pads (220 or above). Optionally, you can just use your rotary tool - or even sand by hand! It'll just take a little longer.
  5. Vice - I use a drill press vice for most small projects like this one. You can find the one I use here.
  6. Drill - We will need this to drill a hole for our key-chain (or necklace). I love Makita, but you can use anything really. If you don't already own a drill, it's probably wise to just use a bit from your rotary tool, since it will accomplish the same task.
  7. Wood Burner Kit - Readily available at nearly every hardware and hobby/craft store. I use this one here.
  8. Carbon Paper & Regular Paper - I picked some up at my local Staples, but you can also buy some here. We'll use this to trace a pattern, logo or phrase onto the wood later on for burning.
  9. Wood Glue - Just about any wood glue will do, but I prefer to use Titebond, which you can find here.
  10. Clamps - Just need them to hold and glue our wood together. I use the ones found here.
  11. Scotch Tape - We'll use this to adhere our normal & carbon paper to the wood, allowing us to trace the pattern.
  12. USB Storage Device - You can use any size you want - just make sure you have enough wood to contain it! I chose a 64 GB USB 3.0 stick form factor USB device, found here.


  1. Clear Fingernail Polish - Believe it or not, covering electronics with a coat of clear nail polish gives it a base level of liquid/splash resistance. I cover ALL of my electronics projects with this as standard practice.
  2. LED - Though I don't do it in this tutorial, you can add LEDs to this project but cutting a place for them in the wood, then soldering them to the appropriate connections on the board. A video on this process can be found here.
  3. Boiled Linseed Oil - A great finish for nearly every kind of wood. Some people prefer no finish, which is fine. This gives the wood a polished look, drawing out the natural properties of whatever wood you chose. It also gives it a base level of moisture resistance. Pick some up at your local hardware store, or here.

Step 2: Remove USB Stick From Case

  • Here, I used a SanDisk 64 GB USB 3.0 stick.
  • Carefully cut it apart, and remove the electronic components.
  • If you've chosen to complete the optional clear nail polish step here, go ahead and apply it at this time and set aside. Don't be afraid to cover the entire board in a nice base coat!

Step 3: Cut Your Wood to Size

  • Depending on the size of the USB you're using, you'll need to cut your wood taller or shorter. If using a Micro USB drive, it could be much shorter than the one I have pictured here. I'm using a bigger 'stick' factor USB here, so I made mine a little bigger.
  • Mark your wood to cut into even pieces if necessary.
  • Don't worry if you don't cut incredibly straight - we'll be sanding it to look the way we want in a future step.

Step 4: Insert USB & Glue Wood Together

  • Using your rotary tool w/a coarse sanding bit, grind out a groove such that your USB can fit inside the wood area whilst they are sandwiched together. This may take a little trial and error, so be patient here and take your time. Use the first pic above for reference.
  • Once you have the your pieces fitting pretty snug, go ahead and slather them with some wood glue, and sandwich them together. Don't worry about getting wood glue on the board, it's not conductive and you won't hurt the electronics. However, try not to gum it up if you can. Once squeezed together, be sure to wipe off excess glue.
  • Clamp the wood together on all ends, and let it sit to dry overnight.
  • After it dries, you should have something like the 3rd pic here.

Step 5: Sand to Desired Shape

  • Using your orbit sander (or hand sander, rotary tool sander bit, whichever you prefer), begin to shape your USB device to the desired shape. Start with a coarse grit to shape faster, moving to a finer grit for a nice smooth feel/texture (220 grit or above).
  • Be very careful not to accidentally damage the metal USB tip enclosure, as this can lead to undesirable dings/nicks, etc. that can prove difficult to repair
  • Once you've finished, you should have something that looks like the pics above. Remember, I'm using a longer USB stick here with walnut wood - so your results may vary.

Step 6: Imprint Your Pattern, Logo, or Text on the Wood

  • You have some options here. I went on the internet and printed the Cisco text from their logo.
  • Cut out the object you've printed on normal printer paper (obviously must fit on the wood itself), and cut some carbon paper around the same size.
  • Use scotch tape to adhere the printed paper and carbon paper behind it to the wood.
  • Trace the pattern with a pencil to transfer the pattern to the wood. You may want to practice this on a spare piece of wood if you're feeling nervous. For most images and text, tracing only the outlines of the object is advised.

Step 7: Burn the Wood & Drill a Key-chain or Necklace Hole

  • Using our wood burning (pyrography) kit, slowly and carefully trace your pencil markings from the transferred text, pattern or logo - and begin to burn the wood. I recommend tracing the edges carefully first with an all-purpose or fine-point tip.
  • Once you are satisfied, you drill a hole for a key-chain or necklace if you so choose. If you're a stickler here, you can attack some sandpaper to a string and sand the inside of the drilled hole to make it smooth.

Step 8: (Optional) Apply Finish & Let It Dry

  • If you want, go ahead and apply the finish of your choice to the wood. I chose to use boiled linseed oil, as it brings out the natural beauty of many common woods.
  • Let it dry overnight, and you are done!
  • You may find yourself making many of these for friends and family in the future :) They make excellent gifts, and are a lot easier to make after the first time (like most things).

I hope you've enjoyed this instructable! Please check out my other instructables here.
Please consider following me if you'd like to see more things like this in the future :)

Take care!

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