Introduction: Wooden IPhone 5 Case

The contrast with the high-tech phone and its materials (glass, aluminium, ..) and the natural look of solid wood, makes this an impressive case.

Cases like these can be bought at webshops, some examples are :
  • http://www.grovemade.com/product/iphone-5-case/#plain-bamboo-iphone-5-case (79$)
  • https://www.miniot.com/webshop/?portlet=miniot&page=iwood5&state=maximized (79$)
But of course it is much more fun and rewarding to make such a case yourself.
Just as much as the iPhone is a precision device, manufacturing this case will require precision.
Apart from that, with basic tools and very little materials, you can build a really impressive protection for your phone.

Step 1: Warning

Before you go ahead, I must warn you about a few things :

an iPhone is a delicate thing, and as such does not really belong in your woodworking shop : It doesn't like dust.

Also when working with glue, make sure everything is dry and clean before touching the phone

Finally, when you make this case, be very careful towards scratching your phone's display


Having said this, you will need to measure, try, proof, etc. from time to time with the real phone. The wooden case needs to be very precise in order to function well, and this precision can only be achieved through regular testing and proofing while building it

If you feel unsure, you can make an iPhone dummy (a wooden piece with the same dimensions) and then proceed with this dummy.

Step 2: Tools & Materials

Tools :
  1. Caliper
  2. Router, with following router bits : straight 12mm router bit
  3. Sander (Belt-sander for rough work, Orbital sander for finishing)
  4. Jig saw, with precision cut saw
  5. Clamps
Materials :
  1. A piece of solid wood, preferably a nice piece of tropical wood. (as this is a very small object, that will hopefully last a couple of years, it is ok to spend some tropical hardwood for it) I used Bamboo, as I found a nice and cheap piece of wood in the outlet store nearby : 1.60 euro
  2. Some fabric, eg from an old jeans, ...
Other :
  1. Wood glue
  2. Contact glue
  3. CAD Drawing with Iphone5 dimensions

Step 3: Building the Jig

Precision routing cannot be done freehand, So you need something to support your movement. It's called a Jig.
In general a Jig is a self-made support tool, that enhances the capabilities of other tools.

Some will serve you a lifetime long, some others you may need only once..
Usually you will build them from some scrap materials, their quality matching the life expectancy of the Jig.

The jig shown in the picture is one that I use regularly when routing small pieces of wood. I will add more instructables in the future that are made using this jig.

Step 4: Routing the Piece

The case will be assembled from 2 halves that will be glued together at the end.
The two halves are symmetrical, although one will have an extra opening through which you can 'push out' the inserted phone
  1. Mount the bamboo in the Jig : see image : I use pairs of wooden wedges. Make sure those will not run away from the vibrations of the router
  2. Adjust the guides so that you will rout a rectangular area out of the center : this area should measure 130 mm * 62 mm and 4.5 mm deep. Remember that you can always make this cut-out  wider and deeper, but never the other way. So you may start on the safe side, then try with the phone, then adjust...
  3. Cut the piece down, length-wise to almost its final size. The last mm will be trimmed on the belt-sander.
  4. Route an extra opening on 1 piece only, to allow you to push out the phone with your index finger. So this needs to be slightly lwider than the width of your index finger.
Tip : regularly clean your workarea as even tiny chips of wood can make your work inaccurate.

Step 5: Adding the Fabric - Testing the Dimensions

The most difficult thing about this project, is making it so that the phone slides in and out easily (without causing any scratches to its display) while at the same time preventing that the phone falls out just by gravity.

Both objectives can be reached by adding a piece of fabric at the inside. In step 3 we made each half-shell 4.5 mm deep, resulting in a total of 9 mm. The iPhone is 7.6 mm, so we can add 1.4 mm of fabric. I used some jeans, of which four layers (2 on each side), provide exactly the right friction.

This will need some experimenting : tentatively stack up all the parts : under shell, fabric, phone, fabric, upper shell and join them with small clamps. Then test the friction. Take your time and again be carefull with the phone.

When confident that the friction/protection is perfect, glue the fabric inside the wooden shells. I used an extra dummy piece of MDF in order to be able to press the fabric in place while the glue dries.

After the fabric has been glued, cut away 2 mm at the 'entrance' of the box. This can still be done after assembly and sanding, but it is easier now.

Step 6: Glueing

Avoid excess glue dripping to the inside, check with a flashlight the inside of the box after assembly.
Let al glue dry long enough in order to avoid wet glue onto your phone..

Step 7: Sanding - Finishing

Sand the box down to its final size :
Start with P80 grain on the belt-sander
Finish with P400 by hand.

Oil with wood oil.
Again, avoid to spill oil to the inside (the fabric will be greasy forever..) and let everything dry well before inserting your phone.

Comments

author
AshishJ44 made it! (author)2016-09-19

The article is really good. Got many ideas after reading this! But I ordered a rosewood case for my iPhone 6S from Madanyu. The case quality is really great. So can you suggest where can I see more designer rosewood cases

2015-New-HOT-Selling-solid-PC-wood-Case-For-font-b-iPhone-b-font-6-the.jpg
author
ROFLalways made it! (author)2016-02-02

I made them from some scrap pieces of wood I had laying around and a foamboard from another project.

temp_-1931233357.jpg
author
danamrox made it! (author)2015-05-26

awesom like it i lik e how the wood looks

author
Jean-Valéry Thoraval made it! (author)2013-01-10

that's bamboo, not wood.

author
hammertong made it! (author)hammertong2013-02-03

Amazingly awesome!
You use woodworking tools on the bamboo, so... Close enough?

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-10

Yes, technically you're right, Bamboo is a kind of grass. Still for this instructable, I treat it as if it is wood. For my iPod I've made the same case from Walnut

IMG_0518.JPG
author

indeed, Bamboo IS a grass. nice instructable anyways ;)

author
Daniel Domingos made it! (author)2013-01-18

Nice work!
You really should be congratulated!
Beautiful design.
Would you also knew my work and maybe we can exchange some tips on software and 3D creation. My blog is: http://2dprojetos.blogspot.com

Thanks,


Daniel Domingos

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-28

Hi Daniel, thanks for your message. I visited your blog! I use Sketchup for 3D design, because it is free SW, it allows me to quickly build a model and you can download many existing models. Before that I used TurboCAD. I have used Autodesk SW long time ago, but I find it too expensive for hobbyist projects...
I have no experience in going from a 3D model to CAM Manufacturing. Will try to do that in the future. Cheers !

author
Daniel Domingos made it! (author)Daniel Domingos2013-01-28

Thank you for your response and for your visit in my blog.
I'm always interested in meeting and learning about new software.
The Sketchup seems an option very similar to Autocad, but even so I will find out about this software.
I will continue to monitor their projects because I really liked of them.
And who knows, we can exchange tips and experiences.

Thanks,

Daniel

author
chuckyd made it! (author)2013-01-10

This is a great idea. For those who do not have access to a router, or who think routing out the divot will take too much time, there is another method.

Use three layers of wood, instead of two. The center layer should be just slightly thicker than the phone.

Measure the width the opening needs to be and mark it on the inner layer.

Cut on the waste side of the line with a bandsaw, jigsaw, saber saw, or scroll saw.

Sand the inside smooth with an oscilating sander or with sandpaper and a sanding block.

Glue the fabric to the inside of the outer two pieces.

Glue the three pieces together in the correct order and finish as outlined.

An alternative to the fabric is flocking, which is used in jewelry boxes.

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-28

After thinking about this, I actually think it is the better way to build this : this way it will be more easy to :
* test the dimensions are right...
* apply the fabric at the inside
* you could do without a router, just jigsaw and sander...
It will be a bit more difficult to find the wood, as you need a thin piece for top/bottom and a thicker piece for the middle.
Thanks for your helpful tip !

author
Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)2013-01-08

That looks awesome! Wonderful design :)

author
Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)Penolopy Bulnick2013-01-17

You should enter this into the Holiday Gifts Contest!

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-18

It's already in the Pocket Contest. Is it possible to enter in multiple contests ?

author
Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)Penolopy Bulnick2013-01-18

Yes, yes. hertzgamma is right. You can enter as many Instructables as you want into a contest and you can enter a single Instructable in up to 3 different contests :)

author
hertzgamma made it! (author)hertzgamma2013-01-18

I believe you'll be more than welcome to do that.

author
hertzgamma made it! (author)hertzgamma2013-01-18

I forgot to mention that I love your idea and photos/explanations!
I wish I had the tools to make such a case.

author
Bill WW made it! (author)2013-01-13

Excellent. Bamboo is such a good material; it's strength properties qualify it for high strength structural members. In addition to being a beautiful material. Note that I did not dare call it "wood".

In step 5, I assume the routing could also be done with a table mounted router by clamping the guides to the table top.

author
Thetis made it! (author)2013-01-11

Cool. I would consider mounting a simple flat spring between the fabric and the wood to grip the phone back.

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-11

Excellent tip ! Will try this next time.. (probably the iPhone10 or so...)

author
Johnkaye made it! (author)2013-01-10

It's great to see instructions for crafting something out of wood using tools and not a laser cutter. Sort of becoming a lost art here on Instructables. Most now start off with "laser cut the wood", Great instructable!

author
strooom made it! (author)strooom2013-01-10

Well, I have no access to a Laser cutter... Too expensive, and TechShop is like 8000 km from here.. Furthermore, I think a big part of the joy of woodworking is in having the workpiece and/or tools in your hands. But to be honest, sometimes I dream about CNC :-)

author
racoontnn made it! (author)2013-01-10

The original thing! I already have a few items on your description, I will add this one.

author
axelheiberg made it! (author)2013-01-10

Very nicely done and a great presentation. Congratulations!

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GorillazMiko made it! (author)2013-01-09

Awesome!

author
Atomic Shrimp made it! (author)2013-01-09

Very nice

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allesflex made it! (author)2013-01-09

Very well done with basic tools! It shows that if you plan right that you can make anything.
Very nice.

author
artworker made it! (author)2013-01-08

sleek and elegant! Will make one for my wife this valentine.

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)2013-01-08

That's beautiful - great job!

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Bio: Learn - Make - Share --- I am a freelance Designer. If you like my designs and would like me to design or build something for you, feel ... More »
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