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Cherry Wood iPad Docking Stand

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Picture of Cherry Wood iPad Docking Stand
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When it comes to an iPad stand (making one, buying one or adapting something), the possibilities are endless if only for the simple plainness of the function. Your iPad can be propped up in so many different ways.

But when you've decided on wood, I think it comes down to sculptural form, proportions and wood species (color, grain, texture) in addition to the basic holding functionality. Otherwise it's just a block of wood (if not cradle, frame, easel, hanger, ledger, arm or whatever complexity). I saw the one made by drbakker here (as well as those commercially sold). This is my attempt. This is my first upload.

I enjoy elegant and simple things. My personal requirements also include fitting inside a small bag, being low cost (or free), being attractive and being very durable. This docking stand is home made for my own use with no profit motive so feel free to help yourself in "borrowing" my ideas.
 
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Step 1: The Piece of Wood

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I was lucky to find a scrap piece of cherry wood in my workshop. Cherry is a hardwood with fine grain and polishes nicely to an amazing smoothness. As a woodworker hobbyist, I do NOT consider softwoods such as fir to be furniture grade. This is just me.

Step 2: Board Width

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The board I found measured almost six inches wide (S3S), making it perfect. The wider the better for supporting the iPad, but anything wider than the iPad's width I think would not look right.

Step 3: Board Thickness

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And this is 5/4 board, meaning it's nominally five quarters of an inch thick at the lumber mill. Actual thickness varies by species. This piece actually measures about an inch and a sixteenth. If too thin, like 4/4 or 3/4 stock, there may not be enough "bite" to hold the iPad. If too thick, then it may obscure the iPad's screen or get unnecessarily heavy and bulky. Wood species and direction of grain should also be considered.

Step 4: Angle of View

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I downloaded a free app called Plumb Bob to determine my desired iPad display angle. I found that I like 20 degrees (from vertical).

Step 5: Angle of Cut

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So I set my radial arm saw to 20 degrees to cut the slot. The blade angle adjusts easily in front.

Step 6: Saw Blade Setting

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Wood saws are not precision instruments. I did a test cut on a scrap piece of common 2x4 (not shown) to check that the angle is okay for my needs.

Step 7: Depth of Cut

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Depth of cut is set to about half the thickness of the 5/4 cherry stock, giving a decent half-inch "bite" to hold the iPad and leaving a good half-inch "structure" for durability. The nice thing about hardwoods like cherry and using a radial arm saw is that fine tuning can be made for an exact fit. Just bump the stock (while holding) and run another pass.

Step 8: Docking Hole

Picture of Docking Hole
I wanted an access hole for the docking cable. The perfect width of slot (to hold the New iPad or "iPad3")  turns out to be about 3/8" so I fitted my drill press with a 3/8" Forstner bit. Drilling from the bottom avoids damaging the topside edges of the slot. This drilling can also be done with a regular hand-held drill and twist bit but requires a firmer hold and more care.

Step 9: About Four Plunges

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The drilling doesn't need to be perfect, but it's best to avoid chunking too much into the sides of the slot on the other side.

Step 10: Rotary Tool Helps

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Use a standard rotary tool with a small drum sander attachment to smooth out the hole. Metal round file also works.

Step 11: Bevel the Front

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The sculptural form and appearance of this simple stand when viewed from the front (the usual appearance) would be nicer if angle cut. So I cut off a sliver.

Step 12: Home Button Access

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Use the larger (1/2" diameter) sanding drum attachment (on rotary tool) to take out material for the iPad's home button.

Step 13: Board Length

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I simply judged "by eyeball" the length of the board to cut. It's approximately the proportions of the iPad.

Step 14: Sanding

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Sanding took me the longest time. This is, after all, cherry wood where sanding achieves superior surface texture the longer you work it. Not shown is how I also ran it through a rounding-over bit (on a router table) to ease the edges.

Step 15: Slot Profile

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The bottom of the slot cut is the least concern. There's no need to shape the slot bottom for precise fit of the iPad's edge. It only needs to be deep enough to hold the iPad firmly. Proper proportions of the slot are important though — but for function.

Step 16: Simple and Unobstructed

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Landscape orientation looks okay — there's no obstruction of the visible screen. The bezel margins are actually narrower in landscape mode than in portrait mode (talking about top & bottom), so the depth of slot should not be more than about 3/4 inch.

Step 17: Basic Form Factor

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This is the wood stand mostly complete, though still unfinished (to get tung oil). I can optionally cut another slot at the other end for an alternate, lower, 45-degree display angle.

Step 18: Front Edge Appearance

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I think the simple beveled front is elegant enough. The 5/4 stock looks beefy but not overkill. The polished (finely sanded) cherry end grain also looks attractive.

Step 19: Spacer for Docking Cable

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I just use a classic drafting weight (leather bagged paperweight) as a non-slip spacer base. A book would also work. See next step.

Step 20: Don't Kink the Cable

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The Apple dock cable connects fine without kinking when elevated by the paperweight's 3/4" thickness. That's all it takes.

Step 21: Docked and Charging

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Charging in portrait mode in the wood stand (sitting on the leather bag paperweight) looks good, feels stable, stays compact.

Step 22: Plumb Bob says...

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Plumb Bob says 19.1 degrees. Okay!

Step 23: Fits Inside Bag

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Final requirement is also met — it's a good fit with the keyboard and iPad inside the compact Kensington sling bag. There's even room to spare.
Beautiful stand!

I was curious - you think it'd be possible to cut a slot with a table saw or router as a chase for the usb cable? I'm going to give this a go with some left over butcher block countertop this morning...
veryken (author)  backpacker20041 year ago
This is admittedly the biggest little challenge. Little as in insignificant -- because in actual use, the docking cable connects fine from the left in landscape mode. Unless, of course, you really insist on portrait mode. So an underside channel is possible, but I would recommend a much thicker board to avoid kinking the cable. And then you might as well consider adding four short legs instead.
Looks great!

Maybe instead of using a spacer, you could cut a groove through the middle of the bottom of the board to allow the cord to lie underneath it? The board might not be thick enough, though. :)
veryken (author)  jessyratfink1 year ago
Thanks for the early comment!

Yeah, cord management was a consideration. My prototype (the 2x4 scrap) had a channel on the underside. But sometimes the cord comes from the right side, sometimes the rear-left, sometimes directly rear. Then it comes down to how much kink the Apple Dock Connector cable can repeatedly take. I took a pic to illustrate...
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