Introduction: CNC Solid Wood Universal Alarm Clock Dock
The final prototype is solid burnt cherry with an inline amplifier and 3.5mm output as well as sinusoidal shaped amplification channels to amplify the device's own speakers.
It can support all versions of iPhone (excluding 6plus), all iPod versions, iPad Minis, all Blackberry handhelds, and some Android phones. There is extra room allowed for even large otter box cases, and a schematic for a spacer is provided to fit case-less devices.
All important measurements are shown in the above schematics.
This project is designed to be used with a Centric CNC machine using a 1/4" endmill bit.
This project keeps your device stably docked, preventing you from knocking it over in the night or at a party.
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Step 1: Material Prep
For this project, you will require at least three project pieces. The material of preference is largely up to you; solid wood, Medium/High Density Fiber board, Plastic, or soft metal are all suitable. Harder materials will take longer as the machine must run at a slower speed (NOTE: running the machine too fast into a hard material may damage the servos, router, and the bit.)
The provided CAD/Vcarve plans and CNC files are designed to work with project pieces 75mm wide by 350mm long by 20mm thick. The material must be cut to this size as well as prepared. Wood products may require sanding, plastics may require sanding and cleaning, and metals may require polishing and cleaning. You must also find the centre of each project piece (both sides of pieces one + 2 and the front side of piece 3), as this is the home location of the files.
A sacrificial plate will also need to be prepared to protect the CNC table as the files will cut all of the way through the project piece. Counter sunk holes will need to be drilled into the prepared project pieces so that they can be screwed down to the sacrificial table.
- Chosen carving material (Wood, Plastic, MDF, Metal, etc.)
- CNC Router
- Wood Glue
- Sand Paper and/or Belt Sander
- Stain and Varnish
- Inline Amplifier or 3.5mm cable
I have attached the files needed for each step. 16 common CNC router formats in a .zip folder and the Vcarve (.crv) files if your format is not included or if you would like to make modifications.
Step 2: CNC Setup
If you are familiar with CNC use, you may skip this step. If not, refer to this section to help setup for each side of each project piece. NOTE: Always check for machine-specific information from the owner/operator/manual.
First, screw the project piece down to the sacrificial table (Not on the CNC to avoid damaging it). Making sure that it is straight, very straight.
Then, place the sacrificial table and project piece onto the CNC table. Tighten the clamps to secure it in place.
Turn on the CNC, and navigate the router to the centre of the project piece so that the bit is just barely touching the surface of your project piece. Set this point as the origin, put on your hearing and eye protection and start the file. (set the speed slower for harder materials such as metal, to medium for solid wood and plastics, and medium or fast for fibre board)
Step 3: Piece 1, Side B
For project piece # 1 (the front piece) you must router the back side first to avoid breaking the project piece. This piece contains part of the opening for the device, and the lip that will hold the device in the dock.
After the router has finished, turn off the machine, and clean off the table with a broom of vacuum. Then flip over the project piece, ROTATING IT FROM END TO END.
DO NOT ROTATE IT ALONG ITS WIDTH, or you will be very disappointed with the result :(
Step 4: Piece 1, Side A
This is the very front of the clock, and a lot of material is being removed. Make sure to vacuum of brush off the project piece between layers. The file paths are programmed to alternate ends of the project piece, it takes longer to carve but prevents burning and/or melting of the removed material by the router.
The file will finish by cutting either end of the project, leaving only 2mm of material holding it to the scrap wood at either end. This scrap will later be removed, but you can just set the project piece aside for the time being.
Step 5: Piece 2, Side A
The front of the second project piece will be carved first. This will carve out the main opening for the phone, cavities for the charging cable and 3.5mm headphone jack, and the sinusoidal sound amplification channels. Make sure, the project piece is very well clamped down as these channels must be made very precisely. This file will cut completely through the piece in three small areas.
Once the file has completed sweep off the table and rotate the piece from END TO END. If you do not do this correctly, you will once again be very sad :(
Then re-secure the now flipped project piece to the sacrificial table.
Step 6: Piece 2, Side B
The next file will carve out the channels for charging cables. This design allows the use iPhones/iPad Minis and iPods/BlackBerries because their speakers on opposite sides. If the charge cable were only able to go on one side of the dock, the sinusoidal amplifiers would only work on one type of device or the other, not both.
Once the file has finished, it will once again cut both ends of the project, leaving only 2mm of material holding it to the scrap wood at either end.
Step 7: Piece 3, Side A
THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL. If you do not want a headphone jack on your dock, this project piece is finished before you even start carving :)
This is the final piece to be carved. It will carve out a single cavity and two channels to allow for an inline amplifier or 3.5mm cable. This cable allows you to plug the dock into your speaker system or headphones.
Step 8: Separating and Sanding
Cut on the inside of the groves at each end of every project piece left by the CNC. I chose to use a miter saw, but a band, scroll, or hand saw would work as well. Make sure to cut accurately as these groves were cut by the CNC so that the interior cavities will line up.
Once all, the scrap material is removed from each project piece sand all router areas of the project pieces. First with rough paper to remove burs, then with increasingly finer sandpaper to smooth out the material.
Step 9: Glueing and Amplifying
If you decided to install an inline amplified or plain headphone jack/cable, you should now place it into the cavity cut into the third project piece. Before glueing the project, together make sure the amplifier is set to an appropriate volume and on Stereo sound (if it is an option).
Then place a thin layer of glue on the contacting surfaces between each project piece and line up the cut ends of the project pieces. Do not use too much glue, it may plug the sound and cable channels or cover the contacts on your cable or amplifier. Then place clamps onto both ends of the project, to prevent the pieces from moving, and to press the pieces into each other, ensuring a firm bond.
Step 10: Final Wood Working
If you want to you can now bevel or chamfer the corners of the dock, and possibly add feet. Neither are a requirement but do help with ascetics. Make sure to thoroughly sand all new cuts and any excess glue.
Step 11: Staining & Finishing
Optional, the project can be left as is. But finishing will increase the ascetics.
The project is now ready for finishing. Staining, painting, or polishing are all suitable options. Whichever option you choose, do in a well-ventilated area or outside.
After allowing ample drying time apply a thin coat of varnish. After it has dried, sand the varnish smooth with a high grit sandpaper. Repeat the cycle of varnishing and sanding until the desired effect is achieved.
Step 12: Enjoy :)
Now charge your phone, play your music (either using sinusoidal amplifying channels or the inline amplifier and 3.5mm jack), and charge your iPhone, iPod, iPad Mini, BlackBerry, or Android.
Step 13: Spacers
Spacers are required for BlackBerries, Androids, iPad Minis and iPhone/iPod 5 and newer. This spacer holds in the smaller mini usb and lightening charging cables.
The spacer can be made from plastic or thick paper for use with thicker devices or devices with large cases such as otter boxes. Spacers made of wood can be used for devices without cases or thin devices such iPad Minis.
Attached is a crv file that will allow a CNC router cut out the exact shape (minus the grove). A scroll saw, had saw, or file will be required for the groove. You can edit the cut depth to suit the thickness of your phone+case. The original opening is 22mm wide. So minus the thickness of your phone from 21mm to determine the maximum thickness of your spacer (1mm for clearance).