Introduction: Hardwood Phone and Mail Stand in Sapele and Oak

About: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.

In the kitchen we've had this wicker basket for ages where all sorts of bits and bobs have ended up. Phones, mail, gift cards, marbles... the list goes on...

So, I decided to make a stand which could hold our mail and our phones so they're out of the way and out of our hands!

Read on to find out how I did it :)

Step 1: Gluing Up the Wooden Blank

I started by ripping a block of oak into four pieces and ripping some strips of Sapele to sandwich between them. Plenty of glue, a bunch of clamps and I had a nice contrasting blank to cut to shape into the phone and mail stand.

Step 2: Smoothing Out the Edges

Next up, I took the block to the benchhook and planed all the edges until they were smooth and flat.

Step 3: Cleaning Up the Edges

After that, I took the block to the chop saw and took the edges off to straighten them up. The chop saw missed off a little wood in the bottom corner which I cleaned up with a sharp chisel.

Step 4: Marking Up the Cuts and Drill Holes

Now, it was time for the shaping! After thinking about the block for the while, I decided to work with the lines of Sapele for the phone groove and holes which would hold the dowel later on.

I marked out lines either side of the first sapele line and then 4 equidistant lines down each of the remaining sapele strips to mark where the dowels would fit.

I also used my phone's thickness to pick out a router bit which would allow a snug fit - as I use a thick case, this ended up being a 1/2" bit.

Step 5: Routing Out the Groove

I clamped the block to my workbench and use the guide on the router to line up the router bit, I cut part way along. I realised that the squeezy clamp was allowing the block to wander, so swapped it out for a screw clamp which held the block in place much more firmly.

I then flipped the block around and repeated from the opposite end to complete the groove.

Step 6: Drilling the Holes for the Dowel

Next up, I picked out a drill bit as wide as my dowel and chucked it up. Setting the stop of the drill press to around 2cm, I drilled 8 holes where I'd marked earlier on.

Step 7: Measuring the Dowel

Now, this wasn't particularly scientific but I wedged the piece of dowel into one of the holes and then used an A5 piece of paper as a proxy envelope and work out how long I wanted the pieces to be.

I ended up choosing around 11cm which came to half way up on the 'envelope'. I then went back over to the bench-hook and cut 8 pieces in total.

Not shown in the photos, but I also sanded either end of each piece of dowel to a slight taper to help with hammering them in later and the overall look.

Step 8: Sand, Sand, Sand

Yep, pretty much what it says in the title!

I started with 80 grit and moved onto 180 as I didn't have anything inbetween.

I made sure I sanded the flat surface thoroughly but also along the phone channel and around every 90 degree edge to soften the lines and make it nicer to handle.

Step 9: Hammering in the Dowel

Using a scrap piece of wood, I hammered each dowel in place. As each hole was the same depth, I could hammer away until the dowel was fully wedged in.

I also found I didn't need to use glue due to the tight fit.

Step 10: Finishing and Drying

I finished the phone and mail holder using spray polyurethane and balanced the front of it on the end of the piece of wood I used to hammer in the dowels earlier.

The polyurethane really didn't take long to be absorbed and dry and was soon ready to test.

Step 11: Populating the Finished Mail and Phone Holder

Once I got it home, I emptied the basket time forgot (forcing me to sort through it for one thing) and then loaded everything of worth into the new holder. I cut the groove at the front to hold both my and my wife's phones as well as a host of gift and loyalty cards we always seem to acquire.

All in all, I was really pleased with how the project turned out and would definitely consider using these woods in contrast again in the future.

I'd be interested if you've made something similar or have recommendations of contrasting woods?

Feel free to comment below and thanks for reading this instructable :)

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017