Introduction: Dock of Durin

This is my project to build a Durin’s Door themed iPhone and iWatch docking station. I had very specific goals with this project. First, I wanted to be able to dock my iPhone in its case. Second, I wanted the Durin’s Door portion to glow as if it is in moonlight. Finally, I wanted to be able to dock both the phone and watch with only one hand. With those goals in mind, I began working on a design. As this docking station is designed from the ground up for my phone and case and my watch, any dimensions will have to be modified to fit your project.

I will break the build into the sections listed below. Some of the portions will reference techniques used in my other builds to save space. If you have questions I will try to answer them. Finally as a general safety warning, this is a recounting of the steps I used in my build, not an instructional manual outlining every step. This build involves corrosive chemicals and power tools. Proper safety practices should be employed at all steps for your safety. I hope you enjoy the build. Never stop learning.


Creating the Durin’s Door Back plate

Building the box

Testing the Final Build

Step 1: Preparation

I designed my docking station to fit a phone that is 3” wide (X), 5” tall (Y) and 0.5” deep (Z). In the text I will provide measurements based off this void to assist in designing a dock to accommodate your own phone. The photo is of my plan is drawn with my actual measurements. You must complete your plan prior to sourcing your supplies, so that you know how much you will need.

I planned to pocket my copper, acrylic and led lights in a 0.5” deep and wide channel running along the central plane of my frame. This would allow the light to shine through the outline of the design without also glowing around the side. I decided to use a 1”x1” frame so I needed at least 24.13” of 1”x1” wood dowel.

I will stop at this point to provide a refresher in trigonometry, as you will need it to calculate your own measurements (who said you would never need math after school). There are 360 degrees in a circle and 90 degrees in a right angle. All the angles in my build were either 90 degrees or 22.5 degrees (0.25 of a right angle). To calculate how long some of the cuts will be you need to know how to calculate an unknown length of a right triangle based on a known distance and an angle. The easy pneumonic is SOHCAHTOA. That stands for the sine of an angle is equal to the length of the opposite side divided by the length of the hypotenuse, Cosine is adjacent over hypotenuse, and tangent is the opposite over the adjacent. For more of a refresher I would recommend this website: .

My iWatch charges I believe through magnetic induction, but at the very least it magnetically “sticks” to the charger. This allowed me to tilt the build back by a 22.5 degree angle for what I thought had a cooler look. Building the frame vertically would make the build less complicated and simplify the math. I will discuss more of the dimensions in the other sections. My (mostly) complete supplies list is below.

Supplies list:

1”x1” Square wood dowel

.25” thick craft wood sheet

4”x8” craft copper sheet

12” long USB powered led strip

4 USB port hub

.25” acrylic sheet

Wood glue

Wood stain

Spray on sealant

Acid etch (I used muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide in a 1 to 2 ratio)

Patina solution (I used white vinegar, ammonia, and salt in a 2 to 1.5 to 0.5 ratios)

Plastic or glass basin

Goop glue (or other clear glue to bond the copper to the acrylic)

Wide clamps



Acrylic knife



Tin snips

A mask for the etch (I used laser toner on a mailing label sheet with the stickers removed)

Duct tape

Step 2: Creating the Durin’s Door Back Plate

My design for the back plate was to etch the design of Durin’s Door all the way through a copper plate to allow light to shine through. I used acrylic as the backing to hold the free-floating copper pieces in place. Of the options of clear adhesive that bonds to both plastic and metal I choose goop.

Step 1. In designing the back plate I stared with the phone. I wanted it to sit in a 3”x6” void to allow for the phone to slide down and seat with the plug. So that void was X by Y+1”. I needed the copper to inset into a 0.5” channel so I needed the copper sheet to be 4” (X+1”) wide. The copper sheet needed to go above the phone void and into the channel, so the sheet had to be 7.5” (Y+2.5”) tall. I angled to a narrow top to inset the iWatch charger. I used tin snips to cut the copper sheet to the desired shape.

Step 2. Create the mask. I used the laser printer toner transfer method to make my mask. The most complete explanation of the process I have found is here: . I wanted my phone to block the light while charging, so I needed the image to be smaller than 3”x5”. The acid will eat through whatever is not covered in the black toner, so I had to find a color inverted image, and them mirror image the print.

Step 3. I used my iron to transfer the toner from the page to the copper sheet. For a good transfer the copper sheet needs to be completely smooth and clean. Any defects will affect the toner transfer. At this point I have found that black nail polish is a quick and effective way to cover up holes in the mask.

Step 4. I used the goop to attach the cooper plate to a layer of acrylic. On this step there are several things to remember. First, be sure to get good coverage with the goop on the back of the copper. The glue will act as the resist on the back side of the copper once the acid has eaten through. Second, your acrylic needs to be smaller than the copper plate but fully cover our image. I used an acrylic knife to score the acrylic at the desired breaks, then applied force to the acrylic to snap it at the scored edges The space will allow the led to sit next to the acrylic in the pocket. Finally, I did a test etch with my material to see if the acid would dissolve the goop. In my short duration test it appeared fine, but in the final product I noticed the goop was dissolving and interfering with the etch. If you have options, I would recommend testing other adhesives’ resistance to acid. If you find a good one, please post it in the comments.

Step 5. I used duct tape to cover all the large portions of exposed copper. After everything was covered up that I didn’t want etched I dropped the copper into the acid. I have found that if you turn what you’re etching upside down in the acid, but set it on “feet” that raise it off the bottom of the basin, it will etch faster. The only issue I had was that the goop slowly dissolved in the etched portions and flowed through the holes made by the acid, so in this situation the slower etching while right side up would have been preferable. Be sure to check the etch periodically throughout this process. Mine ended up etching for about 4 hours. During that time I used the nail polish to patch a few holes in the mask that appeared when some toner flaked off. Just take the piece out of the acid, and use water to dilute any acid still on the metal to stop the etching process. If you just want a copper back plate with no light shining through you can use a similar process to what I used for my cuff build: .

Step 6. Once you have removed the copper, you have to remove the mask. I generally just hit it with sandpaper until all the copper is exposed. Once the copper is exposed, you apply your patina solution. This solution accelerates the oxidation process. Different solutions will provide different colors. My solution produces a blue and green patina. The salt content is the primary method to control the green content, and ammonia controls the blue. You can just wipe the solution onto the copper, but I like to spray it on with an old cleaning solution bottle (adds to the randomness). To get a good patina will take a couple days. Reapply the solution every 12 hours or so. After you are done growing your patina, spray it with a sealant like polyurethane to preserve it in the desired state.

Step 7. To build the frame, I used a router to inset the 0.5” channel in the dowel. I them measured out my cuts and used a table saw that can be adjusted to make angled cuts. If you are using a hand saw, I would recommend investing in a miter box to cut precise angles. I used the router again to excavate a pit to inset the iWatch charger. I added a bit of scrap wood to the top to look like a key stone. I used a saw to make some quick rough cuts in the base to allow the cords to run through. You should apply a quick stain, especially if you are using different types of wood. Then glue all the pieces together except the base.

Step 8. I used sand paper to rough up the acrylic. Roughing the acrylic will help the light to refract out the etched holes. Then I glued the second sheet of acrylic to the back of the first. On the second piece of acrylic I sprayed the back with some silver metallic paint I had. I hope that will increase the light shining through. Slide the whole back plate with lights into the frame. Finally, glue the base onto the frame with the led cord running out its hole.

Step 3: Building the Box

My design for the box base was to allow the frame and back plate to slide into the box. This would allow the charging cords to be removed for travel, or to allow for modification when I inevitably upgrade my phone. The box would need to firmly hold the back plate and hide all the cords.

Step 1. In designing the box, I started with the previously designed back plate and frame. I knew its dimensions and I knew the angle I wanted it to sit at. I drew that first and then began to design the box around it. Since the phone is 0.5” deep, but the copper plate only sits 0.25” from the edge of the frame, I had to build up the frame at the bottom by 0.25”. I chose to have the buildup only go 3” up so that my volume buttons would still be exposed. This led to the aesthetic design choice of only having the box go up that high. I sloped the back down by 22.5 degrees to make a right angle with the frame. To plan my cuts I used the previously described functions. For instance, the total height of the box is (0.25” base) + (3.7” the adjacent side of the triangle formed by the 4” of frame sloping back 22.5 degrees from vertical – COS 22.5 * 4”) + (0.5” the opposite side of the triangle formed by going from the back of the frame to the front at a 22.5 degree rise from horizontal – SIN 22.5 * 1.25”) = 4.45”.

Step 2. I used my table saw to cut the 0.25” wood to size and shape. In hindsight I would have cut the wood on the front to cover the sides. In all I had 2 sides, 1 base, 1 top, 1 wedge shape for the front, 1 front plate, 2 buildup pieces for the frame, and an interior piece to hold the plug. I used the knife to whittle out a plug shaped hole in the interior piece.

Step 3. After I applied a stain the all the exterior faces, I glued the box together. I ended up nailing the sides, top, and bottom because it was a little too loose. I used a couple adjustable bar clamps to hold the wood together while the glue dried. Finally I drilled a hole to run the plug for the USB hub.

Step 4: Testing the Final Build

After I slid the back plate and frame into the box base, the phone charge was held by tension from the base of the frame and the interior piece of the box. The phone rested neatly in the dock and the watch sets on top. The light shines through the etch just like is described in Lord of the Rings (if not as cleanly). All said I am happy with the build. If you have access to a laser of plasma cutter, you would be able to make cleaner lines then my down and dirty etching job. Also, different glue would help the etching job.

I hope you enjoyed the build. I had fun dreaming, designing and building it. If you do build a version of your own, please provide a link in the comments section. I know I would love to see it. If you have any questions shoot them my way. Finally, stay creative.

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