Love & Sex

I Built My Own Vibrator By Hand and It Was Amazing

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It was just like a 19th century assembly line, but with orgasms.

On the train ride over to Babeland, I felt a little flutter of nervous anticipation for what I was calling, in my head, the Build-a-Bear Vibrator Workshop. Really, I was on my way to Build a Vibe, a Duet vibrator crafting event hosted by Crave. I didn't know what to expect, since I'm not exactly a tech-savvy or dexterous person and the closest I've ever come to an assembly line was when I worked as a gourmet cookie wrapper in a bakery. But Crave creators Michael Topolovac and Ti Chang were on hand to walk me through the highly detailed and careful process of assembling my very own Crave Duet vibrator. The theme of the day was: if you build it, you will come.

Crave began back in 2010 when entrepreneur Topolovac kept hearing his female friends complain at dinner parties that there were no high-quality luxury sex toys on the market. Becoming my very best friend in the world, Topolovac teamed up with designer Chang to create the first line of sex products completely crowd-funded (they ended up using CKIE, because Crave was initially cut from Kickstarter because of the platform's buttoned-up policies). Today, Crave's unique, quiet, discreet, and ultra powerful line is comprised of over 90 parts and is completely assembled in the United States — which is rare for a sex toy line. A small team of ten engineers and designers in San Francisco test each and every vibrator carefully for quality assurance, measuring waterproof tightness and power.

The Duet is unique in that its custom motor is connected to dual stainless steel tubes that concentrate the powerful vibration, not on your handle, but right where it should be: on your clit. The small metal base of the Duet detaches and can plug into just about any USB port. In some Lux models, the USB can even hilariously save your own personal files. (Sorry, I left my History term paper in my vibrator, Professor.)

To begin, Chang handed me a box of circuits, motors, casing, and silicone to select from. "Pick your favorite silicone color," she offered. I chose maroon for my vibrator, because, go UMass. 

My assembly tray looked like an intimidating science experiment and not at all like something I'd press against my tender parts for fun. The first step was unscrewing the top of the motor and "putting on the pants." That meant putting the super sleek silicone cover over the motor, not unlike the experience of putting a fussy toddler in corduroys. 

When that was done, I had to attach the control buttons to the circuit board. Here I am holding the circuit that powers the USB. With each step, I paint silicone glue around the edges of all the silicone parts to seal them with the metal.

The metal handle can't be assembled by hand. In order to waterproof a product, you have to carefully design it. This pressing machine clamps the metal handle of the vibrator tightly together to ensure there are no cracks and that no water can get in. I will be honest and tell you I cranked the clamp in the opposite direction at first. This toy can be completely submerged in water. Yes, shower play, bath time, and scuba diving are all a go.

Electric testing to make sure all the circuits are fully functional. (Yes, mine passes the test. I somehow didn't screw up so far.) For such a small, light weight toy, it's incredibly powerful.

We pump air into each half of the vibrator (the USB and the silicone motor) to ensure there are no cracks. Extra extra quality assurance.

Yes, Crave does this to every sex toy they put on the shelves. For each batch of vibrators, the total assembly and QC process takes up to four hours.

I snapped the motor to the USB and, voila, here is my DIY vibrator. The Duet looks a lot like a can opener, a tuning fork, or a lighter, which is actually really convenient for a sex toy because it's completely inconspicuous. If I were to leave this on my bedside table, there's no way my roommate would know it wasn't a wrench. She would legitimately ask me to clean up my bed and put it back in the tool box.

Holding up the fruits of my labor like a proud mama. After I was finished, Chang taught me about the hidden Turbo setting of the Duet. It's an Easter egg on a vibrator that already has a lot of speeds and patterns. I put the Duet on the Turbo setting against my finger and watched as my finger blurred with speed. It might burn my clit off, but it could definitely work for the fearless ladies.

Ti Chang teaching on the assembly line. "This is specifically designed to hug the clit," she explained. "It's not meant for penetration. Don't put this anywhere near your butt." Wise words to live by.

Want to build your very own vibrator? Crave is headed to Brooklyn Saturday 2/8 at 2:00 p.m. for a public Build-a-Vibe event.