Steampunk gift guide

Steampunk gift guide

Here it is, the first ever “Steampunk gift guide” ! – I asked my favorite Steampunk maker to cook one up for us – Jake Von Slatt from The Steampunk Workshop!

Jake writes –

“When Phil Torrone asked me to do a Steampunk Gift Guide for MAKE: Blog I said, “Sure! Love to!” But, when I actually sat down to put together a list of Steampunk gifts for the Maker, I realized that coming up with a coherent list was going to be difficult.

The definition of Steampunk has become somewhat fractured. Originally coined to describe a genre of speculative fiction, its definition has been shattered into something that has different meanings to different people.

After a bit more thought–and a bit more whiskey–I decided to fall back on my standard strategy which is to simply claim that the things I like are Steampunk and refuse to explain further. So here are my favorites for your gift-buying pleasure!

Handcrafted Steampunkery – handmade steampunk-themed crafts
Price: $2 – $200
Buy: Etsy – Link.

Making and modding have become a mainstay of today’s Steampunk. Mechanical trilobites, cog earrings, fine photography, Nikolai Tesla clothing patches,
and hundreds of other items can be found on, a site for individual artist to sell handmade artifacts.

Just search on the keyword “steampunk”.

Leather Bib Apron – Sturdy leather apron protects you and your clothes
Price: $39.99
Buy: Peachtree Woodworking Supply – Link.

I don’t know how many shirts I’ve ruined working in the Steampunk Workshop, certainly dozens. I’ve done a fair bit of damage to several significant patches of my own skin as well! A sturdy leather apron is nearly as important as safety glasses when working in the shop. Not only will it keep your clothes clean, but it will help defend your tender hide from that wayward angle grinder.

Dietz M2000 – Kerosene lantern and Cooker
Price: $18.95
Buy: W.T Kirkman – Link.

Dietz kerosene lanterns have remained nearly unchanged since their invention in the mid-nineteenth century. One recent innovation is the Dietz Cooker lantern.

Can’t you just see yourself heating a can of stew on this lantern while crouching on a dry spot somewhere out in the bayou? Or perched on a boulder on the rocky coast of Maine, your musty smelling canvas and leather camping gear nearby?

Lindsay’s Technical Books – Catalog of books
Price: Priceless (Free)
Buy: Lindsay Publications – Link.

This is the gem of the bunch! Lindsay’s Publications tirelessly tracks down technical books of the 19th and 20th century that have been long out of print and reproduces them. You’ll find books on metalworking, steam power, electric motor re-winding, machine shop practice, beer brewing, making your own vacuum tubes, and much much more.

What’s really wonderful about many of these books is that the tools and techniques described are actually more accessible to today’s Maker than so called “modern” methods as they rely on commonly available handtools rather then the more industrialized processes used today.

Lindsay’s book inventory is so amazing that the catalog itself makes a worthy gift!

Steam Engine – Jensen Steam Engine Kit
Price: $139.95
Buy: Edmund Scientific – Link.

What more can I say? It’s a steam engine! Edmund’s has a solid fuel model available as well as an electrically “fired” model if you don’t want to deal with fueling the boiler.

Rope Machine – Resurrect a forgotten craft
Price: $69.95
Buy: Lehman’s Hardware – Link.
Buy: Lehman’s Hardware – Link.

Make your own period-correct rope, perfect for lending that Kaden Harris project a little extra authenticity! Lehman’s is an old-time general store that has made it to the Net. Based in Amish Country, they sell thousands of high-quality tools as well as items for home and garden.

Be sure to request a copy of their “Non-Electric” catalog.

Vintage Phones – Old phone reproductions and originals
Price: $59.95 – $6000
Buy: Old Phone Works – Link.

The perfect desktop phone to stand next to your Steampunk monitor and keyboard can be had from The Old Phone Works. They have both reproduction phones and genuine antiques in all shapes and styles. If any member of the von Slatt family is reading this, I rather fancy that Crosley reproduction candlestick.

Edison Phonograph – Gakken Edison Phonograph Kit
Price: $49.99
Buy: Very Cool Things – Link.

It was a telegraph sounder kit very much like this Gakken Edison Phonograph kit that planted in me an early love of retro-technology. These kits come from Japan but Very Cool Things includes translated English instructions for many of them. What I find especially neat is that this machine uses common plastic cups as its recording media!

Abney Park – Steampunk Music
Price: $15.00
Buy: – Link.

Huh? What’s this doing here? More than any other band I know, Abney Park embodies the Maker Ethic. They self-publish their music, both on CDs and via DRM-free downloads from their web site. The do their own promotion and maintain fan relations via all of the major social networking communities.

They also make and play their own Steampunk modded instruments including a Flintlock bass guitar, the original Steampunk Keyboard (mine came second) and the sexiest copper old-time microphone you’ve ever seen.

A CD makes a great gift and it’s the perfect mood music for pounding steel and brass in the workshop!

Goggles – German Safety Goggles
Price: $24.00
Buy: Restoration Hardware – Link.

A Steampunk without his goggles is just a guy in a top hat. Moreover, he’s likely to put an eye out! Safety glasses do the job, but safety goggles do it better and with more steampunk style!

Wrenchware – Stainless Steel Dinnerware
Price: $17.99
Buy: Northern Tool – Link.

The up-raised fist clutching a wrench is a Steampunk icon symbolizing mastery over the mechanical. Now you can display you mastery over your comestibles at the dinner table with stainless steel Wrenchware from Northern Tool.

Tool box – Journeyman Tool Chest
Price: $987.00
Buy: Gerstner – Link.

There is something about beautifully crafted hand tools that enhances your work. It’s not just that they are of high quality, there’s something about an heirloom tool that inspires you and allows you to exceed your normal skill level when you work with it.

Such tools need, nay, demand! a worthy case. Gerstner & Sons of Dayton Ohio have been making such cases since 1906. To put it simply; OMG, WANT!

Make Pt0146
Make Pt0144
MAKE volume 9 (available in “The third year” box set only)
Price: $59.99
Buy: Maker store – Link.

Not only can you read about Jake, but if you’re in to steampunk-like projects it’s a good idea to subscribe to MAKE for 2008… Next year we’re going to have a fantastic Victorian era issue! Get the third year box set (Volume 9 is sold out for individual issues).

If you don’t have MAKE you can start with the latest volume (12) by subscribing and you’ll get access to the digital edition right away too. Since you’re reading this on the MAKE: Blog we can give you a special code that takes an additional $5 off (USD) it’s CMAKE and it will get you MAKE @ $29/year, that’s half off the cover price. Click here to subscribe and get started with MAKE! Volume 12.

Visit Jake at the Steampunk Workshop!

34 thoughts on “Steampunk gift guide

  1. cup beans says:

    What an amazing imaginative tour. I enjoyed it, thanks.

  2. mrfixitrick says:

    I’m not sure what is it about steampunk that gets even this cold old heart a-beating a few more rpm, but I do know I’m happy to see more of it.
    Thanks Jake & Make!

  3. Scott Clark says:

    Have added this to my 40+ Steampunk and Retro-Tech sites list

    Great job!

  4. atomicthumbs says:

    Yay! Just watched Steamboy again last night, and I was thinking about those goggles I saw at Restoration Hardware.


  5. Buck Gully says:

    I’m not supposed to know this, but I’m getting something (don’t know which one) from here:

    I’m bouncing just thinking of it.

  6. Datamancer says:

    Great list, Jake!

  7. Nick says:

    While it may be a tad cheap to give the Lindsay’s catalog as a gift (unless you tuck a $20 in…), I agree that one wants almost every book he offers…

    Don’t overlook Astragal press though, they are a slightly more refined catalog than Lindsay’s, but with the same general focus:

  8. Kabuki says:

    Wow, Jake… Nice list!! I’m a little disappointed that my stuff isn’t on it though. :)

  9. kitsune says:

    hmm, these items seems more “luddite” than steampunk to me…

  10. Capt'n Robert - Piratical Anacroaeronuat says:

    Wow, thanks Jake!!

  11. Lenny says:

    WoW! Abney Park! Thanks Jake, these guys are amazing!

  12. Brian Drake says:

    Great list, though I think that Klockwerks ( belongs on it.

  13. HeartlessMachine says:

    re: Restoration Hardware goggles… I have a couple pairs of brazing goggles, they are pretty much identical to these. But I fancied them up a little. Unscrew the rings that hold the glass lenses in, take the glass out (or buy new brazing goggle lenses at the welding supply) and take them to a place that does window tinting. Offer the guy a 6-pack of beer in exchange for putting mirror tint on the lenses for you. Fancy!

  14. Kristan Tetens says:

    Awesome list! I’ve linked to it from my own post “Great Gifts for Victorianists, Part II” at

  15. Lear says:

    Ze goggles… they are sold out, and restoration hardware has no expectation of getting another shipment.

    There goes my Dwarf Engineer cosplay dream. *sigh*

  16. Scott Clark says:

    Restoration Hardware is out of the Goggles. No reorder. Does someone know the manufacturer of these — if so please post!

  17. doriselly says:

    Thanks for giving such a nice ideas !!!!!!!

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