Introduction: DIY Solid Wood IPhone Charging Dock
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This is a simple do-it-yourself woodworking project to create a desk or nightstand charging dock for iPhone with lightning cable. Keep your desktop or nightstand simple and neat and stop searching for your cord off the side of the desk! Let me show you how it's done.
- iPhone lightning cable
- 4" diameter wood log (or 3" square wood block)
- Tape Measure
- Miter Saw/Table Saw
- Drill and Drill bits (3/32" - 3/16")
- Stain and Polyurethane
- 3" square of Felt
Step 1: Prepare Your Wood Block
First step is to prepare a solid wood block from a log. The iPhone 7 face width is about 2.75", so first thing to do is cut a portion off a 4" diameter log that is at least that long. Next, using a miter saw, cut all 4 sides, one at a time using the flat side you've just chopped up against the guard to make sure each next cut is 90 degrees. The block size you are looking for is about 2.25" tall, 2.75" wide, 2.5" deep.
Step 2: Cut the Front Face Out of the Wood Block
Next, orient the block of wood so the height is the shortest side (2.25" tall) and the front is the longest side (2.75" wide). It may be easiest to mark the faces to make sure you orient correctly for the cuts. To cut the front face out, do 2 passes on a table saw with the blade set about 1.25" out of the table. First pass is at 90 degrees, cutting with the front face down, 7/8" from the bottom side along the rail. (See further descriptions in photos) The second pass set the angle of the blade about 12 degrees and with the top face down, cut about 1" from the back face along the rail. (For this cut, simply line up so it will connect with the first cut in the middle of the block.)
Note: If the cut don't exactly line up, just break off your removed block and file or sand down the crevice to smooth it out.
Step 3: Cut the Notch for Cord Underneath
On the bottom side, measure and mark halfway along the back. Setting the table saw blade to just 1/4", make a few passes starting from the back of the block to cut about a 1/4" wide gap 3/4 of the way to the front of the block.
Note: DO NOT cut all the way to the front face of the block! To prevent this, set the block next to the blade so you can see the blade not extending to the front face, and mark the position so as you make the passes you know where to stop. (See photo captions for more descriptions)
Step 4: Practice Creating the Hole for Lightning Cable
This step is important! If you don't practice on a piece of scrap wood creating the hole, you most likely will end up with too big of a hole that won't work very well for securing the cable.
The goal here is to create a hole just wide enough for the lightning cable end to slip into snug. Using multiple sized drill bits and increasing in size gradually we create this exact hole we need.
First, take a piece of scrap wood that is 1" or so tall. Using the end of your lightning cable for reference, mark 2 dots in the middle of the wood right on the edges of the metal end of the cable. On the side of your board, mark a 12 degree angle in line with the dots for reference. Next, start with a small drill bit (3/32" or 7/64") and drill a hole at the angle on the center of each dot you marked. After going all the way through the board, increase the size of the drill bit to the next size up and drill directly in the same 2 holes making them slightly bigger. Repeat this process until you've increased each hole size to 3/16" drill bit. At this point the 2 holes will overlap almost completely. Carefully with the drill bit in one of the holes press against the middle remaining wood between the two holes and pass through the middle widening the middle part of the hole. Test inserting the end of the lightning cable in the hole to make sure it fits. If it is too tight, either do a few more gentle passes of the drill bit along the walls of the hole or use a small rolled-up piece of sandpaper to gently smooth the inside and widen the hole. The more snug the fit, the better in the long-term!
Step 5: Create the Hole the Lightning Cable
Once you have practiced on scrap wood and feel comfortable drilling the holes, follow the same steps to mark the dots and the angle on the shelf of the wood block. This time start by placing your phone (with it's case on) against the angled wall. Mark the angle on the side of the block in line with the front of the phone screen. Then make sure the cable is directly centered on the board before marking the middle dots. Follow the same process for drilling the hole out as in the previous practice step.
Note: Having the cable too far back (too close to the angled wall) means the phone will not be able to connect. Having it too far forward is ok as the angled back wall is not really needed for support as the cable can hold the iPhone in place. If in doubt, err slightly too far forward. Also, if you plan to increase the size of your case backing, make sure to move the cable further forward.
Step 6: Expand Where the Notch and Hole Intersect
The cord will need to not stick out from the bottom face at all. Sometimes the angle is too sharp and you will need to expand the area where the bottom notch and the hole intersect. Looking at the bottom of the block, the notch you created for the cord and the hole that goes through to the top should have intersected. At the intersection, use a drill bit to cut out the section (noted in the photos) to allow the cord to not cut at too sharp an angle as it runs to the back of the block.
Step 7: Sand, Then Apply Stain And/or Polyurethane
At this point, the wood block is ready to sand and finish. For a natural wood look, consider simply sanding and then adding a coat of polyurethane. Or if desired, stain with your choice of stain, then add polyurethane. I used the stain Briarsmoke by Varathane to match other items in the room.
Step 8: Hot Glue the Cord In
After finishing as desired, put the lightning cable through the hole from the bottom of the block and connect the iPhone to it. Then push the cord back down the block until the phone lightly touches the wood block shelf. On the underside pull the cord taut to the back of the wood block and use a glue gun to hot glue the cord in the notch.
Note: If the hole was a snug fit for the end of the cord, there should be no need for glue anywhere except the underside of the block. However, if it ended up too lose, add a small amount of hot glue to the top of the hole where the cord comes out to prevent wobbling to better secure the cord.
Step 9: Add Felt to the Bottom
Last of all, trace the outline of the block bottom (slightly smaller actually) onto a piece of felt. Cut out the felt and hot glue to the bottom of the block to prevent any scraping on the desk or nightstand.
Step 10: All Done!
Stand back and admire your decluttered space! This charging dock is fairly simple to make, and by taking the time and setup to make one, you might as well cut a few more blocks and simply repeat the process to have one at the office, the home desk, and the nightstand! Let me know how they turn out!
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