Making Steampunk Goggles
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Why Steampunk Goggles?

The main reason is: why not? Steampunk is a cool sub-genre and I happen to like it very much. Also because I'm going to a steampunk convention in a few weeks, so I need goggles for my costume. If you want to know more, then read about it here. It's pretty fun to imagine myself in a high tech Victorian society. I usually imagine myself as the mechanic of a pirate airship. Either way, when servicing brass steam engines, having the goggles is probably a good idea. So there is why I want a pair of steampunk goggles.

Here is a picture of what the goggles would most likely look like if you are an airship pilot most likely on a pirate airship. Build instructions for these particular goggles can be found here. These goggles were made by aintMichael on instructables.com.


Designing The Eye Cups

Well, since I'm planning on making the goggles out of PVC piping, I have two choices: 1.5 inch PVC pipe or 2 inch PVC pipe. Two inch is a little big but 1.5 is too small, so I'll just go with 2 inch since it's only .25 inches bigger than my original plans. But then again, I'm gonna be using end caps to hold the lenses, so maybe 1.5 inch will be good. I'll just buy 1.5 and 2 inch and test both out and see which one is better.

Since our eyes are not flat, I can't just use the pipe without modification. It will have to be shaped a little like the picture below.


Shaping a tube like that will be a little hard because I don't know what technique is used to shape it. Trial and error seems to be our best bet. I'm going to make the prototype eye cups out of paper towel tubes. A rough template that I made for shaping the eye cups can be found here. Just print it out and cut it out, but make sure that you size it to be around 2 inches long, otherwise it might fit weird.
Here are a few pictures of cardboard prototype goggles on my head. They seem to fit nicely and only have a little open space near the nose. They look pretty good considering that they are made out of cardboard.



Change of Plans

Well, I went to the Home Depot to go buy the PVC pipes to make the goggles, and I thought that I would buy 1.5 and 2 inch pipes with congruent end caps and they don't sell 1.5 inch. They had 2 inch though, but when I saw how big 2 inches was, I was like "there's no way I'm making goggles that big". Luckily the 1.25 inch PVC pipe was staring me in the face and there were enough end caps to make 2 eye-pieces. Now I'm thinking that the end caps alone are perfect for the goggles because they were around 1.75 inch mid-diameter, just what I was looking for. Then I went to the spray paints and picked out a spray paint that looks like old copper, perfect for goggles. I am also thinking of making the goggles not so tall because they look somewhat ridiculous as you can see in the prototype pictures.


Prototyping in Plastic

So now that I have some time, I should start making the plastic version of the goggles. Since I only bought 2 end caps to make the goggles with, I'm going to have to practice the technique that I will use to shape the goggles. Luckily that's where the 1.25 inch PVC pipe comes in, as my test subject. So after drawing the template on it and cutting and sanding, it kinda looks like this.

You can see me holding the eye piece in the first picture and me testing it out in the second picture. The thing on my head is my pair of expensive laboratory grade Uvex safety goggles, you'll see why they are necessary later on (besides the fact that they just look cool).


Making the Eye Cups

So here I will outline the process of making the goggles. To make only both of these, I worked from 6:16 pm to 8:03 pm, so quite a while. Though it's not too bad considering the fact that the only tool I used was my dremel, literally only that tool.

So here I had drawn the template onto the end caps corresponding to the right/left position. I just used a sharpie to trace it.

So here is what must now be my new favorite toy, the dremel. It's useful for pretty much everything and I don't think that I would have started this project without it.

To start making the shape of the right eye cup I used a cutting disk to roughly cut it close to right shape.

Here I used a sanding wheel to sand off whatever the cutting disk didn't get. Getting this far on one eye cup is a nice 20 minute project. I'ts pretty useful but very messy.

This is the same procedure with the cutting disk to get it close to the outline, but this is on the left eye cup.

This is what I meant when I said that it's messy, my arm and shirt and hair and jeans were covered in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) powder.

Here are both of the goggles with the eye part all cut out and sanded and all that good stuff.

In this picture I start making the lens hole by drilling a few holes in the center of the cap. I didn't take pictures of the steps I did to hollow that out, so I'll describe them. After these few holes cut by the dremel and a drill bit, I used the drill bit running on high to slowly cut through the PVC and roughly cut out the center, I didn't think that the end of an end cap would have been so thick. Then I used the grinding wheel to do the nice touch up part, like on making the part that goes around the eye.

After all that cutting and grinding, the hole will look like this. I was lucky that there were words with the pipe specs in a circle formation because that is what I used as an outline for the hole size. And that's my sister's dog in the background.

Same procedure done to the other eye piece and both are done being shaped. My dad was pretty impressed at how I worked with patience and skill to come out to these, so it was good. The aesthetics will come next.



Spraying Them in Copper

So finally, 3 weeks after I posted the thing on making the eye cups, I finally had time to spray them down with this metallic paint I got at the Home Depot.

So this is the paint I got from the Home Depot, metallic copper, it cost me about $7. Also, I've never used spray paint before this project, it's kinda messy...

To prepare the goggles for the paint, you have to sand them down with really fine sand paper, this one was so fine that it just felt kinda like paper-mache, since there were size markings and the sharpie from the template tracing, I used this to remove those. Then I washed the eye cups in water.

This is the prototype eye cup after I tried spraying it. I messed up in the beginning because I started spraying it without cleaning and sanding it, so it was a little difficult to re-prep it after that, but I did it. Then I just held it in a gloved hand when I sprayed it down.

Here are both of the eye cups all sanded down and cleaned, I didn't forget about that this time. So now they are all prepared to be painted.

So the circles that I cut out for the lenses were a little off in some places, so I had to bring out the dremel and now they are perfect circles. I had to rewash the eye cups though because of the PVC powder that got on them.

So here is the prototype eye cup all dry and finished, it looks really good so I'm going to use the same technique to paint the other eye cups.

Here is just a picture of the gloves I used after applying the first coat to the first eye cup. I'm glad I thought of wearing gloves.

Here are the eyecups on my dad's grill which I used as a drying rack to shield against the wind because I didn't want the wind to blow away the paper that the eyecups are sitting on. But in this picture the inside of the eye cups aren't painted yet.

Here are the eyecups all finished and painted on the inside. Next I will work on making it functional.