Introduction: Wood Induction Charger

Picture of Wood Induction Charger

Powermat has come up with a great induction charging solution, but I wanted something that fit into my homes design.  What I did was remove the guts from the Powermat office charging solution, route out some hardwood, and then glued the guts back inside of the newly routed out wood.  The hardest part to this concept was getting the wood thin enough to get a positive lock on the charging coils below the surface without going through the wood.

All-in-all, I am pretty happy the way it turned out.  I also added a piece of industrial felt to the bottom of the wood with some space to the left for my keys, wallet, etc.  This keeps the wood from scratching any furniture surface it may come in contact with.

Wood Induction Charger from Jason V on Vimeo.

Step 1: Wood Induction Charging Mat

Picture of Wood Induction Charging Mat

Buy Powermat charging mat.

Step 2: Disassemble

Picture of Disassemble

Take apart the Powermat induction charging mat.  There are screws underneath the rubber feet.  Remove the screws and pry apart the mat.

Remove the PCB. This should all be one piece.

Step 3: Get Wood

Picture of Get Wood

Go to your local wood store and pick a piece of wood out that you'd like to use.  I used some pine at first because I knew it would be soft and easier to use the router on. 

Route out a shape that will fit the charging guts. Don't forget to make a cut in the back for the power adapter and USB.  The hard part here is making sure the wood is thin enough to get a charge from the coil, but also not burn through it.  Thin enough being about 1-2mm. This will be wood dependent because of density.

Step 4: Mount PCB

Picture of Mount PCB

I sprayed the inside of the wood with some spray adhesive and glued the mat, coils against the wood.

Step 5: Finish

Picture of Finish

After that dries I attached a piece of felt to the bottom of the wood so it didn't scratch any surface and plugged in..


jacobusvanwyk (author)2011-04-20

how to use wood as a "power mat" just take a pice of wood and cut out the thiknes of the powermat itself. lay it inside and cover with wood look alike vineer

jvalal (author)jacobusvanwyk2011-04-20

Sorry man, but the powermat coils aren't strong enough to go through two pieces of material. Not only that, but you'll increase the size of the product by 1/3 if you try and wrap a piece of wood around the existing solution. Good luck.

joeri reynaert (author)2010-04-10


I'm a graduating student product design. For a mobile lighting system I basically want to do the same thing as you did. Before buying the powermat and powerpacks (will be sold later) I have a questions:

Thanks for the thickness number. But what about the distance, for instance if you keep it 5mm from the surface, will it charge? I hope so..

jvalal (author)joeri reynaert2010-04-10


If you read the thread I state that I think the distance between the top of the coil and the bottom of the wood is probably 1-2mm.  I cannot get calipers in there to measure.  Also, 5mm distance will be too far unless you find a way to increase the power i.e. distance the coils transmit.  


joeri reynaert (author)jvalal2010-04-11

Thank you for your answer! In my application the rapid prototyping material will be 1-2mm thick but the second coil will be farther away. You can compare it to holding your ipod dock 5mm above the surface. If I understand you right, this will not work unless I find a way to increase the power?

jvalal (author)joeri reynaert2010-04-11

yes. not just power to the device, but the coil's power.  5mm will not work.  Even Powermat's production model doesn't do that.

Grodzman (author)2009-11-20

Nice DIY! You know you can put this thing under any surface (except metal) and feel free to spill water/fluid on it too. The capabilities of the technology are pretty endless since it's inductive, and the closer you have it to the surface the more efficient the charging. I've been waiting for someone to think up of some creative mods to our mats; next up is rigging it to your car.

- Assistant Product Manager of Powermat

joeri reynaert (author)Grodzman2010-04-11


I'm a graduating student Product Design from Belgium and I would like to integrate the Powermat technology into my prototype of a mobile lighting solution. I have some questions about the possibilities of the new powerpacks. Could I pherhaps mail you a presentation pdf of my project? I already contacted Powermat UK but they didn't reply. My plan is to commercialize the product; I believe there could be benefits for Powermat. I hope to hear from you.

Thank you!

mattccc (author)2010-01-08

will you post more images of the pcb

ubr.bzkr (author)mattccc2010-02-13

yes more images of the actual power mat please. im surprised how simple the actual wireless energy part is. it looks to me like its just three primary coils with a magnet in the middle to make sure your device is positioned right on top of the coil. the powermat website doesnt say jack about how it actualy works, just that it is basically a digital controlled transformer- oh boy like i didnt see that one coming. the only reason why i think it costs over $100 is because of all the digital logic. did you see all of the digital microprocessors and circuitry on the bottom of the coils? seems a little excessive so there must be more to this than simple magnetic induction through a coil. it is likely a lot more complicated.

Remag1234 (author)2009-12-10

A powermat is $99 and you can only charge 4 items. IMO, it's not worth the money.

reinovator (author)2009-12-07

Very good Idea

irishjim68 (author)2009-12-07

I see this as just being version 1.0.

I'm sure that there will be more mods to come for this particular piece of home tech.

astrong0 (author)2009-12-05

wouldn't it be cool if it was integrated directly into your counter top! then you could just chuck your crap on the counter and it would charge!!!! :)

frollard (author)2009-11-18

I 'wood' say the project is pretty neat - I don't find the original casing that unattractive, but this is a neat hack to involve regular shelving, counterspace, or furniture into the magical charging abilities of technologytastica!

crapflinger (author)frollard2009-11-19

which actually brings to mind a suggestible change to the original product..

instead of making a stand alone wood block with charging guts that you put on a shelf or a table....just route out the table or the shelf and build the powermat right into into it...invisible charger

moorea7 (author)crapflinger2009-11-23

Following the suggestions of others reading this Instructable, adding this to a table would be real easy if you've got a table with an existing veneer top. Get it went around the edges, the veneer comes loose enough to get a paint scraper under. Carefully remove with paint scraper, route a suitable hole for your PCB and cables, then plug it all in, glues the veneer back down. Done.

A nicer way would be to get matching USB/power sockets and just keep the wires to the sockets on the back of the table.

I may well do this to mount a few in-desk connectors for devices.  Imagine a table with a built in USB and network hub:)

Lighthouse (author)moorea72009-12-04

I think you would likely end up ruining your veneer, especially if the piece is of newer vintage. newer veneered furniture generally uses waterproof adhesives. even with older pieces you are more likely to see the veneer bubble and warp if you soak it too much. this *might* work if your top is a laminate veneer, but even then, i think the suggestions to route from underneath the top would be the better option.

jhines0042 (author)2009-11-18

Great job.  I saw these power mats the other day and when they drop in price some more I might pick one up.

Did you think about using a piece of veneer for the top instead of routing out a hunk of wood?  Might get better precision on the thickness and of course veneer comes in a variety of species.

jvalal (author)jhines00422009-11-18

I'm not sure how simple it would be to match up the veneers with the base wood, but it did cross my mind.  How do you think that would work?

jswilson64 (author)jvalal2009-11-20

Why use veneer?  You could easily use hardboard (Masonite), or even food-box cardboard, covered with wood-grained contact paper...

Or, (and I've always wanted to try this, never got around to it...) use real wood, but scan it.  Then if there are any holes that need to be cut, you can create a laminate of the wood grain from your actual workpiece. 

Hard to explain...

Lighthouse (author)jswilson642009-12-04

wood-grained contact paper? really?

Valche (author)jswilson642009-11-21

Seems like an awful lot of work to just make a DIY veneer...

jswilson64 (author)Valche2009-11-23

 Yeah, the original idea was to build a computer in a nice wooden box I found - I'd use the scans to apply wood grain to the CD drive, etc., so they'd match exactly.   Just never got around to it.

jhines0042 (author)jvalal2009-11-18

I don't know that it would matter so much.  After all, lots of tables have veneer tops and you will rarely find a veneer that is actually the grain pattern you'd need to make it look like solid wood.

So you could do a couple of things.

1) veneer everything but a 1/4" around the edges and then stain it all a consistent color.  This would give the impression of a two tone wood effect.

2) veneer the whole top in a complementary wood.  For example, you could buy a block of cherry, route out what you need and apply a cherry veneer.  If the grains don't line up, most people would not notice.

3) veneer the edges as well.  This technique is used on wooden pedestals or boxes that can be viewed from all sides.  It gives the effect of a 45 degree miter joint on the corners.

jeff-o (author)jhines00422009-11-18

I'm not sure if the veneer would be strong enough to support anything placed on top.  A cell phone or something sure, but if someone inadvertently places something heavy of top it'll tear right through. 

Typically veneer is applied over much cheaper stock (say, fiberboard) to give a nice finish to a cheap piece of furniture.  The fiberboard provides the strength, and it's usually pretty thick.

eh9 (author)jeff-o2009-11-19

You can laminate fiberglass and wood veneer to get adequate strength with the appearance you want. You'd need to seal the wood first before laminating to prevent the resin for the fiberglass from bleeding through.

helifino (author)eh92009-12-03

How about styrene sheets? You can get them at any hobby store...

jvalal (author)eh92009-11-19

eh9 - not sure if the fiberglass would allow the signal through.  Would be something to experiment with.

Polymorph (author)jvalal2009-12-02

The signal will go right through fiberglass.

jeff-o (author)eh92009-11-20

 Hmmm, that might work!!  You can get bare fiberglass, like the type used to make circuit boards, but obviously with no copper.  Use spray adhesive to mount the veneer onto it.  Yeah, that would work quite well...

eh9 (author)jeff-o2009-11-20

I was thinking about bare fiberglass mat and polyester resin, but pre-cured fiberglass board is certainly easier to work with.

jhines0042 (author)jeff-o2009-11-18

A good point to be sure.

Hadesan (author)2009-11-28

Very nice mod.

However, instead of routing the wood to a thin enough level, would wood veneers been easier? You could cut out the base or construct it from thin pieces of wood. Then apply a few layers of wood veneer (glued at right angles to each veneer slice)  to give it strength (similar to plywood construction.) 

This way you would get a solid surface which allow the coils to work while removing the need for the routing trial and error to get the depth.


talonts (author)Hadesan2009-12-03

I agree that veneers would work very well, and also allow fun with different types/colors of wood for a truly custom look.  You can even used layered veneers for the main frame, and go wild with patterns.

The other to consider is simply removing the rubber mat from the original charger, and installing wood veneer in its place.

Gage987 (author)2009-12-03


mattnoks (author)2009-12-03

Very cool, can't wait till furniture comes with this option built in.

fin saunders (author)2009-12-03

As with all things magnetic/electric, the thinner the material between the charger and the electronic devices the better.

Hardwoods may be better as they would have more strength and durability when thin as opposed to softwoods, pines, etc.

Consider the thickness of the original part when making your new enclosure and use that as a guide.

Quarter inch birch plywood from a hobby store could be cut to size with strips built up underneath for a router-less build.

Advance project.  Ask your boss if you could modify/substitute the top of your desk at the cube farm and cut a pocket into it so that when you put your electronic device down, it's on the charging plate. Or cut a hole in it, then route the edges to inlay a piece of plywood/fiberglass level to the top.



Gonazar (author)2009-11-23

Great job making it to Engadget!

kmpres (author)2009-11-21

Very nice instructible.  For the fiberglass/veneer idea, fiberglass cloth of the type used to make model airplanes is available in different weights at most hobby shops.  If applied correctly, it'll add less than a millimeter to the thickness of the veneer and give it considerable strength. It can also be sanded afterwards to remove the high spots left by the resin.

Also, if you round the front and rear edges of your wood piece, veneer can be applied to the curves as long as the curves are parallel to the grain of the veneer.  A one inch radius curve should be veneerable without cracking the veneer.  You soak the veneer in a tub of water mixed with a drop of dish soap to soften it, then apply it to the wood bending it around the curve as you go. It's helpful to first glue and let cure a 1/4 inch strip of the very rear of the project to serve as an anchor, then apply glue to the rest of the contact areas and roll the project/veneer together on a table top.  Epoxy resin (same stuff used for the fiberglass) is strong but is messy and the veneer must be pinned or clamped carefully to keep it from separating during the cure.  Contact cement will work as well, and is faster and neater, but may not be as strong.  Once cured, you rout along the edges with a formica bit or use a sanding block.  Straight pieces for the end-grain sides finishes the project. 

subhuman (author)2009-11-19

"The hard part here is making sure the wood is thin enough to get a charge from the coil, but also not burn through it."

Would have been cool to tell us how thin you made it, at least for reference.
And could have been more detailed (text and photos).

But other than that, nice idea and nice work!

jvalal (author)subhuman2009-11-19

I've replied to the thickness quetsion..about 1-2mm

What other details would you be looking for?

subhuman (author)jvalal2009-11-19

Thanks! This helps a lot.

Dunno if its possible but if so, you should edit and add it to step 3.

I would have liked a picture of the under side of the final product(with the power adapter and usb).

But mainly the "more detailed" comment was for your future instructables, since its always better to document more then less.

Thanks for your answer, i appreciate it :)

mbudde (author)2009-11-19

So, how are these Powermat charges any different from plugging it into a dock? It looks like you still have to plug it into a device.

jvalal (author)mbudde2009-11-19

some are, but others come as battery door covers.  So you install the battery cover and then just lay your phone on the mat when you get home.

KissMyWookie (author)2009-11-19

There's no mention of how thick the remaining material was over the inductor coils.

I would be interested to know how much pine the signal went through.

jvalal (author)KissMyWookie2009-11-19

I can't get calipers in there to measure, but I think its around 1-2mm

Jayefuu (author)2009-11-18

Cool idea, those mats are pretty ugly.

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