A B C
Fig. A: If you can’t pry open the memory stick, be
prepared to do X-Acto surgery. Fig. B: Cover your stick
with plastic wrap to protect it from the silicone glue.
Fig. C: Silicone sealant secures the drive in its new
ChapStick tube. Fig. D: To make room for the drive,
drill the block to 1" from the bottom. Fig. E: Finished
block, ChapStick, and pirate puppet memory sticks.
to glue it into place. I used a pirate puppet from my
son’s birthday a few years ago. Its plastic is translucent, so the pirate’s head glows eerily when the
drive’s LED indicator shows data moving in and out.
After shelling the drive, I covered its circuit board
in plastic wrap so the glue wouldn’t cause problems
(Figure B). I slipped the board into place, making sure
the USB connector had enough clearance; 3" is generally enough. With the board in position, I squirted in
enough silicone to seal it in place. An hour later, it was
ready to save a few naughty sea shanties.
Hiding a flash drive in a ChapStick (or other lip balm)
case takes a little more effort. I started by cutting
and peeling off the label, to make it a plain white tube.
You can glue on your own label, but I left it bare.
Twist the knob to remove all the product and its
carrier, then yank out the central screw with needlenose pliers. Finally, as before, simply cover the board
with plastic wrap and glue it into place (Figure C).
Some time ago, my wife bought me a box of hardwood samples, most of which I’d never heard of.
To house a USB key drive, I picked a piece of African
164 Make: Volume 17
tamboti wood for its dark brown color and even
grain. A small pine cone or knot would also work.
First, I cut the block to roughly the right size. To
drill out room for the circuit board, I used a small drill
press with its stop set about 1" from the bottom
(Figure D). Then I drilled another hole just big enough
to fit the activity indicator LED. This doesn’t need to
be precise, because you can bend the LED’s wires
to the position needed.
Then I shaped the outer surface with a belt sander.
To avoid leaving ugly lines, I used 220-grit sandpaper and worked with the grain. For the final polish,
I hand-sanded using 400-grit paper. Then I rough-fit
the drive board, wrapped it in plastic, and glued it up.
I also did a memory stick makeover using a cylinder of the same wood, which I turned on my wood
lathe; a pre-made dowel would work just as well.
After turning the block round and drilling holes for
the board and a lanyard, I finished both with a light
coating of linseed oil for a hand-rubbed luster.
My modded memory sticks move files with style,
but here’s a word of warning: they tend to disappear.
In fact, 3 of the 4 I’ve made have since been taken
by family members, leaving just the pirate for me. In
other words, as soon as friends and family see your
homemade memory sticks, they’ll want one.
Photography by Brian Nadel and Sam Murphy (E)