Introduction: Tiny Upcycled Smartphone Stand

For the last few months we have all learned to manage our lives in a more digital way. This includes having loads of video calls that drain your smartphone's battery a few times a day.

I am ok with communicating this way, what I am not ok with me with having to hold my phone all the time while having a conversation.

I've tried different smartphone stands but the problem comes when my battery is low. Usually smartphone stands do not contemplate the idea that my smartphone needs to plug in in order to charge the battery and that the plug is right on the bottom bottom part of the phone, so no regular stand will hold my phone while charging.

So, after being tired of holding my phone, having my wrist ache and making lots of people dizzy because of me holding the phone on my hand, I decided to build my own stand just the way I needed it.

Hope it works for your phone as well and you get to have long lasting conversations online!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

To build this upcycled stand you will need stuff you already have at home:

  • A couple of toilet paper or paper towels carboard rolls. I used one and one.
  • Regular or packaging paper. The one used on take-aways paper bags works great.
  • Decorative gift wrapping paper. I had this pretty one from a present I received a while ago.
  • A pencil
  • A pair of scissors
  • Regular white glue
  • A brush
  • A bowl
  • Some water
  • Your smartphone and charger cable

Don't worry, you will only use your phone and cable as reference to make your stand the perfect size.

Step 2: Draw and Cut the Shape of Your Stand

This step is the most important one. Try your stand as many times as you need using your own smartphone to make sure you have the right design.

  1. Start by folding flat one of your cardboard rolls. This will make it easier for you to design and cut the shape of your stand while keeping it symmetric.
  2. Using your phone as a reference, draw the basic shape of your stand. Trace the lateral side (width) of your phone on the cardboard and design the front and back flaps of the stand. Make sure you have at least 1cm (a bit more than 1/3 of an inch) "cut"* for the phone to hold in place.
  3. Once the basic shape is drawn take your scissors and cut it out.
  4. Test it using your phone. See how it holds.
  5. If you are happy with how your phone stands, fold it again and draw two more cut-outs:
    • One half-circle on the front part that will act as a natural sound amplifier for your phones speaker.
    • One square on the back that will hold the charging cable.
  6. Test it using again your phone. Check out how it sounds and make sure your charger fits.
  7. Make any decorative modifications you please after you are happy with how your stand works.

*The "cut" is the concave squared cut-out part that goes towards the bottom of the stand. This needs to be the exact width of your device since it is where the tensions of the front and back flaps keep your phone in place.

Step 3: Reinforce Your Stand

Us the second cardboard roll you to make your stand sturdy.
  1. Fold flat the cardboard roll and using your pencil trace the shape of your already designed stand.
  2. Using your scissors cut the shape of the stand on the second roll.
  3. Cut open the back (taller side) of your stand on the second roll.
  4. Draw a straight line 1mm (5/127 of an inch) away from each of the edges you just cut open.
  5. Cut through the line you just drew and discard the extra cardboard edges.
  6. Fold flat the second roll again and slip it inside the first roll (the one is still a roll).
  7. Shape it again as roll and check if there are any adjustment you need to do on the inside roll.

This step is optional but I decided to do it since I plan on using my stand A LOT and want it to be sturdy enough to last for a while.

Step 4: Make a Diluted Glue Mix

We will finish out our stand using an easy "papier-mâché" kind of technique using white glue.
To do so we need a runny glue mix and since white glue is usually quite dense we will dilute it using a bit of water.
  1. Pour white glue on the bowl and add a little of water (about a tablespoon) to it.
  2. Mix well using the brush and check the thickness.
  3. Keep adding water little by little until you mixture reaches a milk-like density.

I recommend making around 1/2 cup of runny glue. In case you need more you can always add more glue and water to your bowl.

Step 5: Glue Both Rolls Together

Bond both rolls together for sturdiness.
  1. Apply the glue mixture you just made to the outside part of the inner roll using a brush.
  2. Slip the inner roll inside the outer roll and press them together with your fingers to bond them together.
  3. Make sure they are aligned and all cutouts match.

Again, this step is optional if you decided to make your stand sturdy.

Step 6: Cover in Packaging Paper

Papier-mâché uses various layers of paper glued onto a surface. The first layer we will do will help keep the structure of the stand and provide a bit of weight to it. We will use the packaging pager since it absorbes well the glue and is very flexible when wet.

  1. Cut the take-away paper bag in small pieces. 2.5 x 1cm strips (1x1/3 in) are perfect.
  2. Add the runny glue to the paper bits.
  3. Stick the papers to the stand in various directions.
  4. Using the brush add a layer of runny glue to the stand.

Tip: Make sure to add enough runny glue to stick the papers, but not so much that that you ends up with a soggy stand.

Step 7: Decorate Using the Wrapping Paper

The second, and last, layer of paper we will add is the decorative one.

This step is optional. You can choose to keep your stand in brown paper style or even decide to add a layer of basic white paper. It is up to you.

I had this gift paper laying around and decided to use it for my stand.

The instructions for this step are the exact same as the one before, so here is a summary:

  1. Cut the paper in pieces
  2. Add glue to it.
  3. Stick the papers in various directions.
  4. Cover it up with a layer of glue.

Now you need to let it dry. It can take up to 1 day to be fully dry, it all depends on the weather conditions. You can leave it under the sun or use a blow dryer to speed up the process.

Step 8: Done!

Once dry the stand will become super hard, making it super resistant to falls, and even though it is made of cardboard and paper it will become almost waterproof. In case it gets wet simply wipe it dry.

You can use it to hold your smartphone in a vertical or horizontal way. Either way you can use it while charging.

This is how my finished stand looks like. I'm pretty happy with the result, it looks super cute and it is really small and light. It is done using materials that were going to end up in the recycling bin and by spending half an hour now I have an amazing stand that works as an amplifier for my phone and saves me from wrist aches ;)

Step 9: Bonus Step: How to Plug Your Charger in

  1. Put your charger cable tip (the one that goes on the phone) through the small cutout you did on the back part of the stand.
  2. Pull it through the stand.
  3. Plug your phone.
  4. Sit your phone on the stand.


Audio Challenge 2020

Participated in the
Audio Challenge 2020