Introduction: Brushed Aluminum Smartphone Skin!

About: Hi! I'm a high school student who loves to makes projects and do everything myself. I'm sure you can find a nice project to do on my profile and I'm planning on making many more!

Customization of smartphones is a big thing nowadays, but if you buy your skin at a retailer like DBrand or Slickwraps, there is not much customization to do. You are just joining the squad of the techies and you are not creating a piece of art you build yourself.

In this tutorial I will show you how you can make a skin that nobody else has (Well except for me, but lets just not talk about that). It will turn your smartphone into a nice show piece that you made yourself and that you can be proud about.

So enough talking, lets get cracking!

Step 1: What You'll Need

Before you jump in head first, you need to get all the things right.

First of all, get all the dimensions of the device that you want to skin. I will be skinning my OnePlus One back, but you can apply this process to nearly anything!

As the skin you need to use aluminum tape also known as plummer tape. It is really strong, but at the same time very fragile, so handle it with care. I will use aluminum tape with a with of 50mm in this tutorial, but it might pay off more if you buy this tape with a with of 100mm. For some extra customization you will need acrylic paint and steel wool.

Other tools you will need are:

• An exacto knife
• A squeeze card or a piece of cardboard
• A needle

Now that you have all the materials and tools, we can start making the skin!

Step 2: Applying the Tape

So we can start off by cutting a piece of tape or pieces of tape depending on the with of tape you bought. If you just want to cover the back of the phone, cut the tape just a hair longer than the device. If you want to cover up the sides of the device as well, you need to cut the tape about 2,5 cm (1") longer than the length of the device.

Then pull of the of the paper backing, but make sure to leave just a bit of the paper backing on. If you don't do that, the tape might roll up on you and you can throw it away which would be a waste of money and materials!

Now you can apply it to the back of your smartphone. Start from the centre of the device and use the squeeze card to apply the tape without wrinkles or air bubbles to the device. It is very important that you do this correctly, otherwise the skin will look terrible! If you use two pieces of tape you need to apply them so that the pieces of tape will overlap eachother at the centre of the device.

If you only want to cover the back of the device, you can skip the next bit and move on to the next step!

Fold the tape over on longest side of the device and apply it the same way as you did it on the back of the device. If the sides are applied in a way that you are happy with it, cut out a triangle at all the corners of the device. Make sure you cut it just a bit smaller than a square angle (check photo for reference). If you have done this correctly, you can fold the tape over on the short sides of the device as well.

Step 3: Trimming

It is now time to give the skin its final shape.

Grab your exacto knife and cut out all the holes, just to make sure you cover everything here is a list of which holes most phones have:

  • Camera bump/cut out
  • Volume rockers
  • Power button
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Micro-USB / USB-C / Lightning Cable cut out
  • SIM card tray
  • Notification Slider

Now you need to grab a needle and poke out all the holes you can't open up with the exacto knife. Exaples of these holes are:

  • Microphone(s)
  • Speaker grill
  • SIM ejector hole

Step 4: Finishing Up!

There are two final ways to customize this skin even more and make it truly yours:

  1. Making a BRUSHED aluminum skin. Grab some steal wool and brush across the skin, make sure to only do this in one direction (Sorry, I'm really sorry... I had to use this word) otherwise it will only make the skin look fake.
  2. The other step is pushing any logos or shapes into the skin and painting them in. As you can see on the project picture of this Instructable, I pushed in the OnePlus logo on the back of my OnePlus One and painted it red. There are a few things your need to know when doing this:
  • Only use acrylic paint, this will last the longest.
  • The aluminum tape is forgiving, but dont push into it really hard... If you do this, it might result in the tape ripping into pieces and that would be a big waste of time!

Now that you are done with customizing the skin, clean it off! Brushing the tape makes it extremely dirty. I used some kichenroll and window cleaner. This worked like a charm.

There you go, you are now done. Come on, go out and show it to your friends!

If you don't have friends, you can always show it to me with a picture down below :)

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