Hello fellow Instructable enthusiasts, this is my first Instructable and I am already addicted!
I have been making casings for flash drives for a little while and I love working with deer antler, so the two naturally met. Making an "Antler Drive" is not difficult and does not require a large workshop or too much knowledge in working with tools.
You will need:
-A piece of deer antler, I found mine on the property.
-A flash drive of some kind, I used a pony attache because the casing is simple to pop off and it's the cheapest I have found.
-A hand saw or scroll saw.
-A Drill with a 1/8 drill bit and a 1/8 cutting bit.
-Epoxy, I prefer the 1 minute setting kind.
-and a small needle file set or some sand paper.
Step 1: Prep and Precautions.
In this instructable you will be working with sharp and high RPM tools, as always work diligently and carefully. Also deer antler produces a fine powder when cut or sanded, so appropriate ventilation or a mask is highly suggested.
First off you are going to need a flash drive, any size memory will do. I highly recommend the PONY attache for three reasons: The casing disassembles quite easily, it is at least a couple dollars cheaper than the next competitor, and the internal part of the flash drive really surprised me at first. The inside of this flash drive is tiny and completely protected, unlike any other flash drive I have taken apart.
Once you disassemble your flash drive by popping it out of it's case, you want to insert it into your computer's USB port so you can mark where the flash drive's "unneeded" room begins. A pen or a needle file will work for adding a small line to the steel casing of the flash drive.
Once you have your line marked you should mark a point on the deer antler with room on the reverse end for a key-chain/necklace hole.
Now that you have your prep work done Its time to roll up you sleeves for the fun part, machinery.
Step 2: In the "Workshop"
While you do not need anything more than a drill and a saw for this, I would have greatly appreciated a Drill press for this project, in the end it would have produced cleaner lines for the inset of the flash drive.
--BEFORE you do any cutting or drilling make sure to have a container ready to collect the antler dust, you will be using it later.
First you are going to cut off the "waste" side of your antler, remembering that the cleaner the cut the better since antler is a pain to sand.
Once you have your first cut made sand if needed, but otherwise mark the shape of the flash drive's end in or around the center of the antler. I marked my rectangle a little under center since I have a low USB port on my laptop. The rectangle is easily marked with a pen by tracing the outer edge of the flash drive.
After you have your flash drive outline drawn you are going to wrap a little bit of cardboard around the antler. The cardboard is good at preventing scratches and marks from vices. While you have the antler viced you can set up your drill bits. Line up the end of the drill bit with the mark you put on the flash drive's steel casing. Once you have them in line push the drill bit about 1/8 of an inch past the line. I have found through trial and error that too much depth is better in this case, you can always just add more epoxy. Once you have your drill bit 1/8 of an inch past the line apply tape to the bit, leaving it hanging off like a flag. This is an excellent way to mark depth without using a drill press.
Once you have both of your bits tapped it is time to begin drilling, remember to collect the dust from the antler. Start off drilling three holes along the span of your rectangular mark, then you can go in with the cutting bit, expanding the holes into each other and along the rectangular outline. And do not worry if you accidentally let the bit bite off more than you wanted it to, it happens to all of us. That is where the epoxy and the antler dust come in later. Once you are done drilling out the rectangle, sand the surface of the antler.
Once you have your inset cut and sanded, flip the antler piece over and drill a 1/8 inch hole across the antler, making sure it runs parallel to the flash drive hole, unless you want a side view of your drive.
Step 3: Epoxy Time.
Now that you have an inset its time to throw some epoxy in it! I prefer the 1 minute epoxy just because I am very impatient and really get into my projects, but if you need the 5 minute kind or that is all you can find the end result will not be any different.
Make sure you have all the dust out of the antler's inset and after mixing some epoxy (the less the better in this case, a little goes a long way) while the flash drive is in the inset fill it roughly 1/2-3/4 of the way up with just clear epoxy. Then mix up another small batch of epoxy with the antler dust and over fill the inset.
Once the epoxy is hard you can take a needle file set or some folded sand paper and take away all the excess down to the top of the antler.
This way if you had any spaces around the flash drive, you have filled them up and they now match the color of the antler. Finish sanding the "Antler Drive" and add a chain to the other end of the drive, through the hole you previously drilled.
Step 4: Finished Product!
Hopefully yours turned out equally as nice! This could be given as a gift to the techno-redneck in your life or the person you know that always seems to have everything. I am very pleased with how this flash drive turned out! Please feel completely free to comment on my work. Until next time -Eric.