Introduction: The Taco Phone Holder

About: I build drums, make costumes, work on house projects/repairs, dabble in Genealogy, eat tacos, and sometimes work in IT.

A lot of time, money, and design have gone into the creation and evolution of devices with the sole purpose of holding tacos in an upright orientation. I usually just sacrifice the weakest looking taco as the "dead solider," to support those whom remain - for the greater good. You know the one ... "private taco" with the cracked shell and cheese deficiency. You're dead to me private taco!!!

Perhaps this means I'm out of touch - or just a savage, somehow still existing in this modern era of taco cradledom. Surely, I have a bit of a defense due to the existence of the TACOsaurus Rex Taco Holder, which is a throwback to the late Cretaceous Period. Scientific data tells us that tacos were of course the snack of choice during that era, but I digress.

It's is my opinion that while taco holding may be an admirable cause, we need more instances of tacos doing the actual holding - it's about time they give back to society!

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, fellow taco lovers ... the journey starts with smartphones ... a taco to hold a smartphone.

Step 1: Internal Box Fabrication

I started with the internal box, because it will establish the scale and therefore determine the dimensions of the taco shell. This is the cavity or pocket, which will hold the phone of smartness.

Since smartphones, nor case options, follow a universal standard of dimension, my measurements won't necessarily correlate if you decide to make your very own taco. However, I will cite them as a frame of reference, as well as list them all within the last step of the Instructable. This taco was built to hold an iPhone X with a somewhat bulky case and a "pop socket." It ended up being a pretty exact fit [Translation: I got lucky]. My iPhone 8 with a tech 21 fits with room to spare.

I used the drum sander to thickness and smooth two strips of poplar - one to 3/8" and one to 1/4". These strips were ripped to a width of 2 1/2" and cut to final size using my small parts crosscut sled on the table saw.

The 3/8" thick stock is for the front and back, which equals that of the future taco filling, while the 1/4" thick stock is used for the sides. It could all be done 3/8", which would be easier and quicker. The rabbets are also unnecessary, but I like to overcomplicate everything.

This box was glued up and clamped using painters tape.

Step 2: Shell Fabrication

Taco shell sides were my second target and I used a scrap of 5/4 poplar. I drew some layout lines representing the bottom plate and vertical center, so I could sketch some arcs and dial in a shape with which I was happy.

The block was cut down the middle on the tables saw and then the drum sander was used to remove tool marks, as well as reach a consistent 3/8" thickness.

A shallow (1/8" deepish) rabbet was cut into the bottom edge of each half. These accept the 1/2" thick bottom panel, which was cut to fit by sneaking up on the cut.

Step 3: Shell Shaping and Glueup

Shaping of the shell started by adhering the two sides together with double-sided carpet tape - insuring the rabbets were aligned (on the same side and facing each other). The arc was cut using the bandsaw and the shape finessed using the oscillating belt sander. I then decided to round over the sides of the internal box, but that turned out to be unnecessary.

Glueup was pretty simple and I was able to do it all at once. My only suggestion would be to let the glue tack up a few minutes before adding clamps. That way parts the parts won't slide around and causing frustration.

Step 4: Filling Fabrication

While the glue dried on the taco shell, it was time to make the filling.

Beef: Part of a runner from a reclaimed pallet - might be walnut, but I'm not sure. I jointed one face and one edge. Using the table saw, the board was cut into 3/8" strips. Those were then rotated and cut again to make square stock, which was then cut into 3/8" cubes using a small sled on the bandsaw.

Guacamole: The greenest poplar offcut I could find in the shop, which didn't need to be jointed, but followed the same process as the beef.

Tomatoes: A small scrap of padauk, which I ran through the drum sander for a consistent 1/4" thickness. Using the bandsaw and sled, it was cut into 3/8" wide strips and then 1/2" long sections.

Cheese: 3/32" thick poplar offcuts I had in the stop, which I carefully ripped into 1/8" wide strips. I then used the bandsaw and sled to cut 7/8" long pieces.

The most tedious part was sanding. It only took 3 quick swipes on each face, but each cube has 6 faces, so the time adds up.

Step 5: Taco Building

I considered two options for gluing all these little bits.
1. Superglue and tweezers, which I deemed to be way too tedious.
2. Coat them all in a thin layer of resin and pack them into the shell in one shot.

After sleeping on it, I decided that the resin option had too many possible points of failure, like pooling in the bottom, undesirable placements, a huge sticky mess, etc. I decided to move forward with the tedious, but controlled superglue option.

In reality, the process didn't take that much time - way quicker than the sanding in fact. I just used one drop of glue on one face and positioned the block with tweezers. I found that I could do one layer on one side and move to the other side while the glue set up. If I had activator/kicker, I wouldn't need to wait at all.

I filled the side pockets in with the beef cubes and started adding in the guacamole and tomato cubes towards the top. The cheese was last and I chose to go mostly with a vertical orientation - not only for visual height, but also to fill small voids while not obscuring pieces below. I had extra pieces, but I didn't want to overload the taco and end up distracting from the overall effect.

After assembly, I noted the taco wasn't sitting flat - it was rocking a bit. Using a sheet of sandpaper and the cast iron top of the table saw, I was able to quickly flatten the bottom.

Step 6: Taco Finishing

For finish, I started with a varnish from Total Boat, which I carefully brushed on in order to cover all of the small pieces. It left a bit more shine than I wanted, which looked fine on the filling, but weird on the shell. My solution was to sand back the shell faces and apply a few coats of satin spray lacquer.

Once the lacquer dried, I applied a coat of renaissance wax and buffed the shell.

Step 7: Taco Wrapping

The taco was a present for the warden, so I wanted to wrap it using a non-standard method. Rather serendipitously, I had a taco kit in the pantry - and the box was a perfect fit.

The foil wrap was for that shot of "bling." I added the second box just to add to the suspense and entertain myself.

Step 8: Glamour Shots

Looks like a taco and holds a smartphone - mission accomplished.
Doesn't taste like a taco - take my word for it.

The Warden loves it and people who witnessed it's debut liked it. She's taking it to her office for prominent display on her desk. Apparently misplacing the phone under stacks of paperwork is a real world struggle and the taco is the perfect solution.

So it's true ... everyone loves tacos and they solve all of your problems. I knew it!!

Taco Shell Front & Back: 3/8" thick x 3 7/8" width/height x 7" length [3/8" wide x 1/8" deep rabbets]
Taco Shell Bottom: 1/2" thick x 3 5/8" width x 7" length
Internal Box Front & Back: 3/8" thick x 2 1/2" width/height x 4 3/4" length [1/4" wide x 1/8" deep rabbets]
Internal Box Sides: 1/4" thick x 2 1/2" width/height x 1" length
Beef & Guacamole Cubes: 3/8" x 3/8" x 3/8"
Tomato Chunks: 3/8" x 1/4" x 1/2"
Cheese Shreds: 1/8" x 3/32" x 7/8"

Epilog X Contest

Participated in the
Epilog X Contest