There are usually many, misplaced or forgotten USB flash drives laying around YuKonstruct; by computers, 3D printers, the laser cutter, kitchen counter, coffee table, etc. and, when someone is asking around about one that they've lost track of, it is hard to remember where it was last seen.
I decided to design and build a USB flash drive lost and found box, to create a meeting place for the lost USB drives at YuKonstruct. I then designed a smaller version of it to use at home.
Step 1: Materials and Equipment:
- 1/8 inch birch ply
- wood glue (Titebond III)
- thick elastics
- water colour crayons (optional)
- clear acrylic spray paint (optional)
- acrylic paint for canvas or walls and paint brush (optional)
- access to laser cutter
- design files (created in CorelDRAW)
Step 2: Cut Out Your Box
Select the box size and layer you want to cut in the design file. There are two sizes, each on a different layer. The larger box (3 3/4" x 5"), will hold 18 USB drives, the smaller box (2 5/8" x 3 1/8"), will hold 6 flash drives.
Set your print settings and cut out your box. I used speed/power/frequency settings of 12/80/20 to cut the 1/8" birch plywood on a 60 watt Epilog Fusion laser cutter.
Step 3: Assemble Your Box
Using a paint brush, apply a bit of glue to the top surface of the finger joint tabs (photo), and assemble your box.
Wrap large elastics around the box in both directions (or use small clamps), to keep everything in place while the glue dries.
Once the glue is completely dry, remove the elastics, and lightly sand the edges of your box.
Step 4: Lid Sticks
Occasionally, the abandoned flash drive still has its lid!
To solve this problem, I designed lid sticks, that can be used for either the lost lids laying around or for the lids of any lost drives that still have their lids (included as a layer in the file attached in step #2).
Step 5: Option #1: Add Some Colour With Watercolour Crayons
One colour option, is to use water colour crayons to scribble some colour into the wood on the top of your box (don't think too much about your design it will get blurred). Then, using a medium wet paint brush, move the colour around until you like how it looks - use only enough water to move the colour around and into the wood, but try not to soak it.
Once the wood is completely dry again, you can lightly spray the surface with clear acrylic, to seal the wood.
Step 6: Etching a Label
Because the larger flash drive box was intended for use in our makerspace, I wanted to add a label by etching through the colour on the surface of the wood.
A quick and easy way to position my box for etching, was to cut a rectangle out of a piece of scrap plywood on the laser cutter the same dimension as the base of my box, and then put the assembled and coloured box into the rectangular hole for engraving.
I then used the height of the box (1 1/4") as the thickness, and settings of 80/100 to etch through the surface colour.
Step 7: Option #2 - Add Some Colour With Acrylic Wall Paint
For the two smaller flash drive boxes, I applied white acrylic canvas paint on the top surface of the box as an undercoat to give a brighter final colour and to allow me to create a rustic finish in the end. I then painted over the white with two different colours of leftover acrylic wall paint.
Let your paint dry between coats. When you are finished painting and the paint is completely dry, sand the edges of your box and the surface, here and there, to get a rustic look.
Step 8: Fill It Up!
Round up all those misplaced flash drives, and fill it up!
One suggestion that I will add now, is that before you decide on the size of the box you plan to make, you might want to gather up your collection. I was sure the 6 drive holder would be plenty for my personal USB flash drive collection, but when I gathered up my hoard, it turned out that I actually have a few more USB flash drives kicking around here than i thought...