Introduction: How to Turn Your Old Kindle Fire Tablet to a Wooden Digital Photo Frame

About: An artist by birth, a software architect by choice, a lamp maker by passion, a learner forever. Featured Author here:)

Hello Dear Makers,

A larger population has no idea what to do with their old gadgets other than re-selling it and that included myself before I came up with this instructable. I bought an Amazon Kindle Fire (1st Gen) tablet in 2012 and before I could use it fully a new version came up and so on. Few days back I wanted to sell this model but having realized that all I could bargain for are peanuts I decided to keep it for playing Fruit Ninja (still love it).

Two days back, I visited an old friend's place and saw an expensive Digital photo frame in his living room flaunting photographs of his countless foreign trips to various countries. I was jealous because he gets to travel abroad so much for his job. Isn't that obvious? ;) But this is where I got inspired to turn my old kindle fire into a digital photo frame and that too for some very good reasons:

  1. Stunning Display
  2. Simple interface, perfect for everyday users
  3. 8GB in-built memory to store a lot of photographs
  4. I already had the material to built a digital photo frame

This project is so simple that it only requires some basic tools & items and the best part is that you do not need to know a lot about woodworking (yes, we will make a classy wooden digital photo frame). I have tired my best to explain every single detail for you.

I am not a professional woodworker but I do love to play around with wood whenever I get my hands on it.

Although this instructable is titled "How to turn your old Kindle Fire tablet to a Wooden Digital Photo Frame" you can use this approach to turn any tablet old/new to a digital photo frame.

Lets start fellas.

Step 1: Material Required to Make a Digital Photo Frame

To make this stylish wooden digital photo frame, you would need the following items:

  1. Amazon Kindle Fire 1st Gen or any other old/new tablet.
  2. A small hand saw
  3. Wood Glue
  4. 320 grit Sand Paper
  5. Some wooden sticks (sanded smooth using 320 grit Sandpaper): Okay.. I do not know what these sticks are called but they are used to cover the edges of plywood, used in wooden windows and to improve aesthetics of wooden furniture. In my city, I have heard woodworkers referring them as 'rips' which I think is a slang, not an actual word. They are usually made of Teak wood and comes under various size and thickness. I got 1" (appx) wide and 7mm(appx) thick.
  6. Back cover of an old photo frame with support (I found an old photo frame that has a thin MDF board as back).
  7. PU Wood polish (I have it as a spray but you can get as liquid too to paint it using a brush)
  8. A measuring tape (not in the picture)
  9. Some medium binder clips (not in the picture)

I found these sticks extremely useful in other than obvious applications. For example I had made tea light holders and lamps using these sticks (sadly no instructables for those :( ). I have used these sticks because:

  1. They are strong.
  2. They have beautiful natural wooden finish therefore I don't have to stain them.
  3. Easy to cut
  4. Easily available

If you have never worked with wood you will find it very easy to work with these sticks. now that you have got the hardware, lets get some software(don't worry, its free:] ) in the next step.

Step 2: Finding the Right Software

Every commercially available digital photo frame has a software for displaying the photos as slideshow with various effects & transitions. We would also need one as an android app for our kindle fire. Grab your kindle and do as follows:

  1. Open AppStore on your kindle fire and search for digital photo frame.
  2. Look for the app Digital Photo Frame Slideshow by Jeroen Wyseur. (Make sure its the free version as there is a paid version as well.). I chose this app because
    1. It is designed so that you can use your tablets as digital photo frame when not in use.
    2. It is free.
    3. It has a simple interface
    4. It has less bugs (yup! it has)
    5. It can show photos from a variety of sources like SD card(Read internal memory ) or from a networked file server. We will use Internal memory for this ible.
    6. Probably only such app that works on my old kindle fire first gen :D.
    7. Works well offline
  3. Download and Install the app.

Setting the App

  1. Open the app from your app drawer.
  2. You will be shown a tutorial with an option to Skip in Future and End tutorial. Tap End tutorial.
  3. You will see lots of buttons to choose your photo source but tap on the settings button (the gears) icon.
  4. On this screen check the 'Show full screen' option.
  5. Tap Text options and uncheck all the check marks.
  6. Hit Back and Tap on Slideshow Options.
  7. Set Default Delay to 7 Seconds
  8. Set Deafult Layout to Fullscreen Photos
  9. Set Transition times (seconds) to Random (Its a bug, this option actually sets the transition)
  10. Aspect Ration to Max Visible Preserved
  11. Photo ordering to Random Selection
  12. Set Transition times (seconds) to 7 seconds (This is the real transition time , last in the list)
  13. Hit back till you exit the app.

Loading photos

  1. Make sure your kindle screen is unlocked. Connect your kindle fire to your laptop using a USB data cable
  2. Look for a new USB Drive in your file explorer (I use Windows 10).
  3. Open the drive. Look for Pictures folder/directory.
  4. Copy your favourite pictures that you want to show in your digital photo frame. NOTE: even though this app displays the portrait photos I chose all my photos in landscape orientation, I think they look better IMHO.
  5. Tap the disconnect button on your kindle and remove the USB cable

Running the slideshow

  1. Open the App
  2. Choose SD Card as source
  3. You will see all the photos that you have transferred from your laptop.
  4. At the bottom of the screen you will notice a start button.
  5. Tap the start button and enjoy the slideshow in landscape mode.
  6. Hit back 2-3 times to exit the slideshow

Allright... our software is all set. Lets give our kindle fire some style photo frame look.

NOTE: Feel free to find better app, you can try downloading and installing apps from other sites that publish APKs for android. The appstore app did the job for me.

PS: I will also tell you how to set some background music in your digital photo frame in the last step

Step 3: Designing the Frame

I had following objectives when I was working on the design of the frame.

I should be able to

  1. separate (read slide in or out) my kindle fire from the frame easily & anytime I want.
  2. operate kindle wire without removing it from the frame.
  3. charge and transfer files without removing it from the frame.
  4. listen to music without removing the frame.
  5. make a frame without using mitre joins (I like them, but I find them difficult to cut perfectly)
  6. play Fruit Ninja... LOL!!

Kindle Fire is a beautiful device but I have to carefully consider few things before I could start making the frame, these are:

  1. Dimensions and Weight : 7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45" (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm). 14.6 ounces (413 grams). My design should be sturdy to hold this much weight and dimensions of frame should be such to enable sliding of my kindle fire in or out.
  2. The LCD inside kindle fire is smaller than the glass outside. My frame should cover the glass equally from all four sides thus leaving a thick black outline inside the frame.
  3. The glass is wider from below and narrow from top, the frame should be made in such a way that the gap between frame and kindle fire LCD should be symmetrical across.

Okay... Math class is over, lets do some woodworking now :)

Step 4: Constructing the Frame

Warning: I have used kindle fire many times during the construction to measure, be careful when doing that. You don't want to spill sawdust, woodglue or worst, any heavy object onto it.

NOTE: I will refer as top & bottom and sides when kindle is placed in landscape position in this step.

Lets try to roughly arrange our sticks around kindle fire to get an idea about the size of the sticks that we would be cutting. See image above and follow:

  1. Place your kindle on floor or workbench horizontally.
  2. Place 2 sticks (double, one above other) horizontally above and below kindle fire.
  3. Now place two sticks (1 each side) in such a way that it leaves equal gap (the black side of glass) between LCD and the stick.
  4. IMPORTANT: Do not let the horizontal sticks touch kindle fire, leave some gap and try to move kindle fire below the sticks to ensure that there is some space for kindle fire to slide. You can put some thick paper strips between the sticks & fire to ensure some gap.
  5. Measure horizontal and vertical sticks using the measuring tape carefully without disturbing the placement of sticks.
  6. I measured as 8.26" wide (horizontal) and 6.51" long (vertical).
  7. Now cut as follows using hand saw
    1. Cut 4 sticks of size 8.26" length .
    2. Cut 2 sticks of size 6.51" length .
    3. Cut 2 sticks of size 6.6" length (We will use them later).
  8. Glue 2 sticks of length 8.26" together to form a thicker stick. Clip them together using binder clips. I will call these double sticks. Make 2 pairs. Leave them for sometime to bond. NOTE: I got lucky as the combined width of these 2 sticks is just perfect for my kindle fire (11.4mm) thickness. Choose the sticks keeping in mind the thickness of your device.
  9. Cut a few strips of stick paper.
  10. Place the double sticks above & below kindle fire, place the tick paper between the sticks & fire.
  11. Place the 2 vertical sticks on side just like we did in #2, glue these to the double sticks. Let it sit for sometime, you can place a heavy book or something on top for the glue to form a stronger bond.

Notice that glass exposed on top & bottom is wider than the sides, we have to fix that. Slide in the 6.6" sticks from top & bottom till the glass exposed is equal to the sides. See 8th image above. If the sticks are not sliding in, sand them a bit from sides. See 9th image above.

Mark a tiny line using a pencil as shown by yellow arrows in 8th image above.

Remove kindle fire from bottom and glue the sticks. Flip the frame upside down and place a book or something on top, let it sit for a while.

Almost there.

Step 5: Making the Frame Support

Once the frame is dried enough to hold, see images and follow:

  1. Place the kindle fire below and make sure that the gap between frame and LCD (not glass) is equal on all sides.
  2. Flip the frame with kindle and place on floor without moving the position of kindle fire inside frame.
  3. Mark a line where the kindle fire is placed on left.
  4. Cut a small piece of stick in half about 2.5" long & 0.25" wide, glue it along the line. Clip it using the binder clip.
  5. Glue the back of double sticks with the used photo frame's back cover. NOTE: the old frame's back cover was slightly bigger than our frame so I had to cut it match our frame's size.

Let the frame dry for few hours (or as per instructions on the glue).

Once dried, sand all the rough edges using 320 grit sandpaper. If you find any gaps between sticks , you may use this technique to make the gaps disappear.

Just a bit more work:)

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Once the frame is all dried, do as follows:

  1. Dust off using an old cloth.
  2. I sprayed the frame using PU based spray (First photo, first coat)
  3. It was dried in an hour or so (May work differently depending on the type of PU)
  4. I sprayed another coat (Second photo) for that smooth glossy look
  5. Notice how the natural texture of the wood has come out super well.
  6. Let it dry.

Slide in your kindle fire from right into the frame and start the slideshow app:) Notice how both the side of kindle are visible enabling easy operation.

And your beautiful Kindle Fire is ready as a beautiful Wooden Digital Photo Frame :)

A few notes:

  1. You can add some music running in the background of the slideshow
    1. Copy some mp3 files into music folder of your kindle just like you did for pictures
    2. Play the music from the music app.
    3. Run the slideshow.
    4. it would appear like the music is played along with slideshow
  2. Sometimes this app skips a photo during half transition, I think this is a know bug in the app.

Its been more than a year since I published my last instructable. I hope to resume publishing on regular basis.

Thank you for your time to read this ible. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did while making it. Please do share your thoughts, feedback and suggestions in the comments below.

If you choose to make it, please use the "I made it" button to post a picture.

Hope you will like it and Vote it (it seems to appear in a few contests luckily) (The voting button in on top right of this page and sometimes appears late :D )

You are awesome. Stay Tuned.

P.S Check out the video for live action :)

Lights Contest 2017

Participated in the
Lights Contest 2017

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017