Steampunk Mechanical Cufflinks




Introduction: Steampunk Mechanical Cufflinks

About: I am a schoolboy who loves most thing t do with building and designing :)

These cufflinks were made as a present for my dad on fathers day, they were inspired by a design made by tattesossian, a very expensive jewellery company, the cufflinks are fully rotatable, when you turn the larger brass disk, the three smaller cogs turn together, the cuffinks are made out of aluminium, with brass cogs and steel axles for the cufflinks to rotate on, over all I am pleased with the result, they were a bit of a pain to work out how to make them, this is the final way I made them, after several failed attempts.

I wanted to say that I have entered this instructable into the jewellery contest, I would love to win a 3d printer, and have been trying to save for one for what feels like ages now,and  being 15 years old i'm struggling :/

A history of the Idea

The idea to make these cufflnks came when my dad brought home a highlife magazine from an airport with a picture of the square mechanical tateossian cufflinks, saying that that was what he wanted for fathers day, half joking as they cost £70 ($106). 
Being broke I set out to make them, orrigionally I made them out of steel box section, but they were very heavy and too big. I went back to the drawing board. When I did some more research, I found that Tateossian also made circular versions of the cufflinks, I mch preffered the shape of these cufflinks, but preffered the look of the cogs on the square ones, So I decided to make a cross between the two.

Things that you need:
-17 or larger mm aluminium bar (you'll need around (150mm)
-40mm aluminium bar (you'll need around 10mm)
-4x5.3mm brass cogs
-2x 7.3mm cog
-10mm brass bar ( you'll need around 5mm)
-0.9mm steel rod ( you'll need around 300mm)
-small piece of breadboard 

Tools that you need
-metal lathe
- pillar drill
-0.9mm drill bit
-araldite, or another epoxy
-rat tail (round) file
-flat and/or half round file
-glue gun
-small files
-general sandpapers
-dremel with polishing bit

and some other general pieces of scrap wood and general tools

I purchased my cogs from ebay as part of a general job lot of cogs, they were described as steam punk cogs, heres a link:

I used the cogs for all my dimensions, make sure you buy the cogs first, them size everything off them.

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Step 1: The Cogs

The cogs

when I first embarked on this project I knew that the cogs amd getting them to rotate together would be the most challenging part of the build, So to get the alignment right I took a piece of bread board from my electronics box, and took a piece of the 0.9mm metal wire that fit perfectly into the hole in my cogs and set the cogs up as closley as I could together, I found very quickley that I was very lucky and that the cogs aligned perfectly, this meant I alredy had a drill guide. I found from my previous failed attempts that a drill guid for the cogs is essental, as the slightest slip will mean that your cogs do not align, If you are not as lucky and the cogs you use do not line up perfectly on the bread board, I would suggest that you see how far away the cogs are with the bread board, then using a pen mark out where you think the holes should go on a piece of scrap wood, drill the holes and see if they align, if they don't, re adjust and drill again. 

now that all the cogs are aligned you can see how they will be able to fit on your cufflinks, this means you should be able to do a cad design to work out any kinks in the desgin before you start making them.

Step 2:

I always advise making a cad image of whatever you make, to gain dimensions, and work out whether everything will work together, the first is the final cufflink cad design, I didnt bother to make a cad image of the stems, as they were too complicated for my limited cad ability, the next is a cad image with dimensions on it and the last is the two designs that I decided between, in the end I went for the circular version, as I preferred it, I also decided to simplify it slightly, by making it only 3 cogs on the shelf, rather than 4, I felt four, when had the proper dimensions, would make the cufflink feel too crowded.

Step 3: The Casings for the Cufflinks

The casings for the cufflunks were made mainly on a metal lathe that my school has, the lathe left a clean and great finish and was relativly quick to do. 
For the design and dimensions I used this is how I made the cases

first I turned down the aluminium bar to 17mm, I then drilled a 15mm hole in it to leave me a tube with a 1mm wall, I drilled around 20mm in, then you will need to 'part off' or cut the tube into two 4mm thick rings.

then cut into the aluminium by 1mm and go in by 1mm so that there is a lip on the end of the bar, the lip should fit inside the 4mm disk you just made, then part off the lip so that there is a total of 2mm of material. repeat this so that you have two 17mm disks with a 15mm lip on them.

then file a gap in the 4mm rings, the hole should be square and file 2mm down and file an 11mm gap, this will make space for the 10mm brass cog to slot through, so that you can rotate it with your finger. so that you do not damage the aluminium, wrap the bits you do not want to file away in duck tape, then place a small clamp on it to clamp it to the table. File it with a flat file, I tend to file a rut on either side to give me some parameters, then file down, make sure that you file a neat and straight line.

This, when you place it ontop of the disk with the lip should leave about a 1mm gap for the brass disk to slot through

Step 4: The Shelf for the Cogs and Spacers

The shelf is where the three cogs sit, to build it you need to turn down some alumnium bar to 15mm, so that it fits neatly into the ring that you made in the last step, then cut 2 1mm disks and 2 1.2mm disks.

with the 1mm disks:  glue the breadboard/ drill guide, onto the disk, make sure that all of the cogs will fit inside the ring, then drill the three holes necessary into the disk to drill the holes use a 0.9mm drill bit, or what ever diameter you plan to use for your axles. When the holes are drilled, mark with a pen a line around the holes. Then file down or belt sand (like I did) down untill you have around a 0.5mm rim around each hole, leaving a nice curve.

The 1.2mm pieces will be used as spacers, so that the shelf will sit in the middle of the cufflink, allowing the rotatingg brass disk to spin in between the shelf and the base. I ended up sanding most of it down. I used the shelf piece as a guide and filed it down to the same size as the shelf, I then filed a semi circular hole into the side of the spacer, so that when it was assembled the brass rotating disk would be able to turn freely

Step 5: The Stem

The stem, I made my self from an aluminium off cut, I had origionaly bought stems but I wasnt happy with the quality of them, so I decided to make my own, copying the 'wale tail' design that tatteossian use, to do it:

first, take a 10mm thick piece of 40mm wide alumiunium bar, then cut it in half, so that you have two semi-circles, then use your drill and put about a 2mm drill bit in the chuck, then drill a line of holes following the edge of the semi circle, about 10mm from the edge, then chisle and hammer out the small semi circle, you should be left with a square curve, then file the inside of the curve smooth, then begin to file down, one side of the curve, so you have about 20mm of filed down area, you will want to file this area down to about 4,5mm square, however for now file it to around 5.5mm, you should be left with a thicker chunk on the other end, put the whole thing in a clamp, and cut a verticle slit through the middle of it. Then use a chisel to start to bend down both sides, then start to hammer the pieces flat, do this very carfully, so that the aluminium does not break off, you should then have a curved T-shape.In the photos I forgot to take phot of the cutting stage, so I tried to show it with a scrap piece. Then file down each arm of the T to around 6mm on either side, then begin to file it further, to 4mm, and make it look dainty and neat, I kept comparing it to the cufflink casings, to get the right sizing, when it is neat, file a roughly 25 degree angle onto the stem, then sand it down, I borrowed some very small files from my school, to neaten them up.

Step 6:

for the final polishing I started with a 120 grit sand paper, and worked up to a 240 grit sandpaper, I then used a dremel and polishing bit to polish it up, I wanted it to still have a slight roughness to it, I sanded and polished every part like this apart from the rings, that did not need policing, and the spacers, as they would not be seen.

Step 7:

The brass disk that you will have heard me mention is the small brass disk that you rotate with your finger, to rotate the three other cogs,, to make it, I turned down a piece of brass bar on a metal lathe, then I used the centre drill on the lath to mark the centre, I didnt put the 0.9mm drill bit that I would use in the lathe as I kept on trying it and the drill bit kept on snapping, so I simply marked the centre, and then drilled it with my pillar drill. Then I parted off a 0.8mm disk

A final adjustment that I made to the design was that I decided to drill holes for the axles through the base of the casing swell, so that the axles had more support, the axle that connects the brass disk and first of the three cogs has to rotate freely, so I made the axle fixed onto both the cogs and spin on the shelf and the base. To drill the holes in the base, I glued the shelf on the base with some hot glue, and drill through the holes in the shelf and into the base, the hot glue was great as it held the pieces firm, yet it was really easy to snap them apart and clean them up after

you will also need to drill a hole in the spacer, to do this glue with some hot glue the spacer in the correct position, then drill the hole in  the spacer, through the shelf piece

Step 8:

glueing up
I used araldite to glue everything together, I chose glue because brazing, I felt would leave to much of a mark on the cufflinks, and some of the parts are too small to braze. The order of glueing up everything is faily important, so here it is, first glue about a 20mm axle onto the brass disk, leave around 5mm sticking out of the bottom of it, I placed a small amount of glue into the hole in the cogand slid in the axle, I then stuck it into some soft wood, for some support.

then I glued the spacer onto the base of the case, lining up the hole in the spacer, with the hole in the casing and lining up the curved edge of the spacer with the edge of the lip, then I added glue to two 20mm axles and slid them into place in the two holes. Then let it all set over two days.

Once it is all dry, slide the brass disk with the axle glued in into its hole, it should sit just slightly lower than the spacer piece, then slide on the shelf with a touch of glue on the bottom of it, then slide on the ring, with a touch of glue on it, when all of this is set, I then slide on the three top cogs, the one above the brass disk has to be glued onto the axle, so that when you turn the brass disk, it also rotates, then clip the wire with some wire clippers, then slide on the other two cogs, make sure that then click into place, so that they rotate together, I did this with a paper clip, then clip the wire very close to the top of the cog, this will leave a small burr around the top of the cog, this will hold the cog on and in place. Then clip the bottom axle, so that it is flush with the base of the case

then you need to glue on the stems, to do this mix up some araldite, spread it onto the stem, and then hold it ono the base of the case, to make sure you get a good bond, rub some rough sand paper on to both sides, then celotape the stem in place, and leave it to set over a few days

When all is dry and cured, I used a blade to shave off any excess araldite, then do a final sand and polish on everything.

Step 9:

You Now should be done!!!

here is some photos of this version, and a failed attempt of a square one.

Thank you very much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, as much as I enjoyed making them 

My dad really appreciated them for fathers day, and wears them to work :D

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    7 Discussions


    6 years ago

    Thank you for these comments, if you like them please vote for them in the Jewlry contest :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I love these and i might make something of the same style for my dad for is birthday. Its great to see people my age making but my school would never let me use the lathe so i may have to get one of the 10 x 7 mini lathes.

    This is just awesome :). Loved them. I have added you here in my collection

    Thank you so much for sharing.


    6 years ago

    These are amazingly awesome!! Nice work!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    You should change the name of this to steampunk cufflinks. Very nice! Also, get some neosporin for that cut on your finger. :)