Miss Betsy's Quintessential Steampunk Gadget




About: You might call me "Jane of all trades, mistress of none"; "all" is definitely an exaggeration but I am interested in lots of "trades" and try to master at least the basic steps so that I understand what the ...

This instructable involves working with electricity (120V) and fluids in close vicinity! You should be aware of the dangers and not attempt this if you don't know what you are doing!
All pipe/hose connections have to be absolutely watertight and I recommend a test with the reservoir filled but the coffee maker not plugged in. Check for leaks after 30 minutes or longer.
The electrical connections should be at least as well insulatad as in the original "donor", when you solder the copper pipes use leadfree solder and when using epoxy glue follow the instructions carefully and work in a well ventilated area!

This said, let's have a look what we need.

Materials and tools which will make completion of this project a lot easier -_^ :
Donor = Coffeemaker from the Salvation Army
Wood to build the frame
Copper pipes and fittings
Water reservoir - I used a aluminum water bottle
A nice coffee/tea pot
Filter holder - in my case a pretty porcelain lamp shade
4 rubber feet
Lead-free solder
Pipe cutter
Soldering iron
Different glues
Ruler, tape measure, compass and caliper
Drill press + drill bits
Emerald paper

For some time I wanted to make a steampunk coffee/tea maker but I couldn't think of a nice water reservoir till I saw this aluminum water bottle at the dollar store. As luck would have it, the opening had a 3/4" FPT (female pipe thread) which could be easily fitted with the male counterpart and further hooked up to the heater element. (You can see it on a picture later) The other problem was the wooden base but I was lucky there too.
If you want to see how a coffee maker works, check this really good video clip: http://vimeo.com/2193258
Of course you could argue an electrical powered coffee maker is not steampunk at all, but then I want to see the coal/gasoline driven coffee maker you've built ;p

Step 1: Finding a Donor and Taking It Apart:

Every time I stop at the salvation army they have several coffee makers up for grabs. Usually they are not difficult to take apart with a screwdriver and some (gentle) force. What you need is the heating element with attached rubber hoses, electrical switch and cable.

Step 2: Mock Up

To find the right arrangement of the parts, I moved them around on a wooden board and got the approximate measurements for a wooden base.

Step 3: Fitting the Parts in the Base

I couldn't believe my luck when I found a piece of wood the exact size for this project. What still needed to be done was cutting the round opening for the warming plate but I managed that pretty well and everything fitted perfectly.

Step 4: Ducts and Frame

As the pictures show, I drilled two holes for the pipes. One for the duct from the reservoir to the heater and the other from the heater up to the coffee filter. In case you haven't watched the video, check the rubber hoses for the one-way valve! That's the one that comes from the reservoir!
To have room for all this, I built a frame ~3/4" high.
In the last picture of this series you see everything in place.

Step 5: Painting and Installing the Electrical Switch

The whole base was painted with fast drying spray paint.
I would have loved to use the switch in the picture but I had to find out that it was only rated 12V, so I had to revert to the original switch.
You can see how I installed it and how the cable was secured to the frame.

Step 6: Preparing the Water Reservoir

I scored the aluminum bottle about 1/4" from the bottom and cut the bottom off with a metal saw (carefully). The cradle from some other project came in quite handy. The cut was straight and square!
In the second picture you can see the 3/4" MPT to sweat brass connector which fitted perfectly in the opening of the bottle.

Step 7: Construction of the Steam! Pipe

Actually these are just some copper pieces found in my spare box, including a brass nozzle which are epoxied together. The real secret of the steam-pipe though is a 1/4" food-grade hose that runs inside the copper pipe and guides the steam/hot water right up to the coffee filter. This arrangement also allows me to swing the arm to the side when the brewing is done.

Step 8: Feet and a Bottom-cover

For safety reasons the heating element and electrical parts were literally screened off with some bug screen. (And yes, I know, I could have put a bit more effort into it) In case of leaks the water would be drained away from the electrical parts.
Feet keep the coffee maker off any surface you put it on.

Step 9: The Finished Coffee Maker

Of course I could have added some additional "steampunkish" elements but I think the coffee maker catches your eye because of the simple lines along with the contrast between black base, coffee(tea) pot and gleaming metal.
The last pic is a stereogram and if you know how, you can see the coffee maker in 3D. Just click on the i in the upper left corner and see it at full size. (Further explanations at my instructable "Stereo Photography Track - quick and dirty" )
Let me know what you think and if you like my instructable, please click on the stars and rate it.
Thank you!



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    41 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I left the original coffee maker switch in the "on" position and spliced in an outdoor switch (the kind with the big slide that operates an ordinary wall switch). I attached a bolt head to the pivot of the outdoor switch, so the unit turns on with a key (formerly a gas valve key, available at Ace Hardware).

    5 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! Next step is to fashion a homemade coffee scoop from a 3/4" plumbing end cap and a brass rod to go with it.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    The reservoir is from a canister set; I chose the one that says "Coffee" for this project. The antique/junk store up the street from me (where I picked up an even nicer carafe this past weekend) has a set of three copper canisters for $15 that I should go back and buy ASAP. One of them is labelled "Tools," which I kind of like. The coffeemaker in the photo is for my lovely fiance (who enjoys her coffee very much), so I'm thinking about making a couple more and seeing what they might sell for. It's a fun project and I thank you for the inspiration.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    The fancy sides of my box, by the way, are just pieces of molding available at any Lowe's.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I shall quite enjoy making one of these! It shall (hopefully) help steer me away from my addiction to that carbonated snake oil from "the man on the mountain"!


    6 years ago on Step 9

    GOod job! I was wondering for all the people who want to make properly made coffee, do you know what the temperature is of the water that is going out of this maker?

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 9

    I like your design. I am currently designing a steampunk coffee maker and the idea of running a food grade pipe inside the copper pipes removes the risk of contamination from the copper or the solder - nicely done if I may say so.


    6 years ago on Step 9

    Beautiful work, Steampunk or Deco. I don't care, I like it. Who knew what lurked within your household coffee maker?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the great build! Followed / tweaked your ideas for a very appreciated Christmas gift today.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 9

    You have been on this site since Jun 13, 2007, And this comment is all you have to show for it?