Introduction: Modifying Stainless Steel IPhone Belt Case

About: Retired Firefighter 1966 to 1986; Retired Wheat Farmer 1987 to 2003. Drapery Sales 1969 to 1987. 21 year Quintuple Heart Bypass Surgery Survivor; 18 year Melanoma Cancer Survivor. 86 years young.

I made this case for an iPhone 4s and posted an 'Ible on it in Oct 2013. ,

In this Instructable, I cut it down the middle with a 0.040" thick cut off wheel on a modified electric DeWalt 4" grinder. (It's a fantastic tool. More on it in another 'Ible.) I then stretched it out 1/2" to accommodate my iPhone 5s.

Step 1: After I Modified It

It looks just as good, just different. This was a lot easier than starting again from scratch & I am well satisfied with the results.

Step 2: Before Modifying the Case

I loved the iPhone 4s Belt Case because it kept my phone from getting damaged when I crawled under a car to change the oil, make repairs or mowing my 15 acre yard.. In 4 years it never fell out of the case even though there was nothing to retain it inside the case.

Step 3: Cutting the Case Half

The time came when I had to replace the 4s with a later model iPhone. I bought a “like new” iPhone 5s on eBay that was actually “As Described”. Since I’m 81, I was not looking forward to making another case. Then the idea hit me if cutting it right down the middle & extending it's length 0.5 inch.

This step shows it after I cut it down the middle.

Step 4: Plan Ahead, Measure Twice, Cut Once (oops)

I then made a Stainless Steel (SS) plate to weld, braze, solder, or whatever onto the front of the case. One of the unknowns was, “How can I attach the plate securely & permanently without having any visible welds?” Then it hit me. I would drill 4 X 0.25” holes in the plate to weld it on through the 4 holes with SS wire with my MIG welder,

Step 5: Welding Two Pieces of SS Together Thru a Blind Hole

I had done this before on other projects, one being modifying a handrail to make it longer for my underground storm shelter pictured here. I cut it in two pieces, slipped on a piece of SS pipe with a ID of the same size as the OD of the handrail, then ground the welds flat, polished the plate to make the welds disappear,

NOTE: Unless you are an expert welder, Stainless Steel is one of the most difficult metals to work with. It might be easier & more forgiving if I had a TIG welder, but I do not. I use a MIG welder & SS wire. Oxygen / acetylene is even more difficult.

Step 6: Welding the Plate on the Front

When welding the plate onto the SS iPhone case thru the 4 blind holes, the hardest part of this operation was clamping everything down securely while I welded up the holes. I clamped the two halves to an old steel carpenter's square & then clamped the SS plate to the 2 halves. The height & thickness was the same dimensions as they were for the iPhone 4s case before i cut it into. After clamping it all down, I covered most of it with 2” wide masking tape to reduce welding splatter. The 6th photo shows where I discovered I had not filled the holes good enough & had to do some more filling.

Step 7: Polishing the Front

I used a high speed air grinder & 3M sanding discs to get the front relatively flat & smooth. The "Engine Machining" does more than just look good. It hides a lot of scratches bumps etc. Even though I had it looking good, I like the look of Engine Turning, so I spent another hour doing it. I polished the previous turning to make it smooth.

Step 8: The Backside

On the back side, I used 2 short pieces of 1/8" SS rod. That reinforced it & it is very solid & secure. I ground the little rods flat & smooth after I took this photo. It looks nice now, but that side is not seen by anyone but me anyway. I lined the inside with Naugahyde, with the cloth fabric backing on the side facing the iPhone. The iPhone fits perfectly & just like with my old 4s, it drops into the case, has never fell out. The iPhone has never been dropped or damaged. Just like before, it has a hole in the bottom to raise the phone up with one hand while I grab it with the other hand.

Step 9: All Done.

Hope you enjoyed seeing what an old man can do after being retired for 30 years. Gotta go; the wife said the cat needs to be fed.

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