USB flash drives almost all look the same. Unless you tinker with them, or try to hide them inside a pink eraser, it's hard to find them in something else but a nondescript plastic enclosure. It's possible to find some that look good, but you'll be paying more money for those, and sometimes it's not just a couple of dollars more. That's why Matt Burns tried to make his own nice wooden USB flash drive himself.
This build is basically a woodworking task. If you are good with wood, this should be easy. What's impressive is how good the final build looks. You'll need an assortment of woodworking tools, from a band saw to a utility knife.
- Band saw
- Scroll saw
- Belt sander
- Bench vise
- Utility knife
- Wood glue
- 000 & 0000 Steel wool
- Respirator or dust mask
There is nothing electrical about this task. It consists basically of assembling a few wooden pieces and working on them until you get the shape that you want. If you don't have access to electric saws, this build could still be completed with more of an effort. It's a lot easier with a saw though.
You'll need to choose the type of wood that you plan to use. The center core should be a dense hardwood, like white oak or white ash. The outer layers need to be sanded down, so choose a wood that takes that well, like basswood, cherry, hickory, mahogany. Burns chose to use Honduras mahogany and white oak. Choosing two types of wood that compliment each other is a must.
The first step is to disassemble the USB drive. That step should be pretty straightforward. Using an older USB drive is an option, but you'll be investing some hard work into this build and it seems as shame to waste it on a small USB drive. Three pieces of wood are going to be assembled together. The center layer needs to be as thick as the disassembled USB drive. You'll need to sand them down and glue them together. The glue will need to dry overnight. After that, you'll cut out the rough shape of the flash drive from the other piece of wood, the one that will serve as your casing.
Once the pieces are glued together, you'll need to start shaping them with a belt sander. This is the part of the build that requires a mask of some kind. Once you have the rough shape, it's time to use the steel wool to shape it further. The sanding process takes a few hours. The better you sand it down, the smoother it will feel.
The final step is to finish the wood with glossy or satin polyurethane. You'll need at least four coats for that glossy finish that you're looking for. This is a great build for enthusiasts you have the patience to work with wood. Only basic woodworking skills are needed, so you shouldn't be afraid of trying it out. Follow his step-by-step guide. [via CrunchGear, photos by Matt Burns]
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