Introduction: Charging Stand for an Otterbox'd Iphone
I wanted a stand to charge my Iphone at night, but I couldn't find one that fit a phone in an Otterbox.
Here are my instructions for making an attractive charging stand out of an oak burl. This is a great project for an irregular piece of pretty wood.
I used a lightning-to-USB cable, a table saw (optional), a bandsaw, a drill press, epoxy and clamps.
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Step 1: Prepare the Burl
I select a suitable piece of burl and make preliminary cuts with the bandsaw and table saw to define the base and establish a straight edge to guide the later cuts. I use masking tape to choose an angle for my first cut. The tape defines where the hollow holding the phone will go.
Step 2: Cut the Burl
The phone will be surrounded by a slice of wood the thickness of the phone, then held in place by a second slice of wood, which has a "window" through which the screen shows. (See the notes on the photo.) The first angled cut is made with the bandsaw. The piece to the left is somewhat thicker than the phone, and will be divided into the two slices that hold the phone. (I use an icepick and compressed air to get all the dust and dirt out of the rotten parts of the burl.)
Step 3: Create a Space for the Phone.
Cutting against a fence, I cut off a slice the exact thickness of the phone in its case. I trace the shape of the phone carefully onto the slice, then define a hollow for the phone. The slice has a lot of rot in the middle, but all the rot is removed - the edges that hold the phone are all sound wood. I use a drill press to define the corners (use a round bit smaller than the radius of the phone/case corner to leave room in the corners), then cut the edges carefully with the table saw and bandsaw. I sneak up to a snug fit by checking frequently against the phone.
I sand if needed to make this slice exactly the same thickness as the phone.
I clamp the three pieces together and make sure the phone fits in snugly but slides in and out smoothly.
When I'm satisfied with the fit, I glue the two top slices together, aiming for an almost-invisible glue line. I clean off any excess glue.
Step 4: Define a Window for the Screen.
The top slice now covers the bottom part of the screen, so the next step is to cut a window into the top slice, inset by a constant amount from the hollow cut into the first slice. This is tricky because I can't see where I'm cutting. I make the cut by clamping a piece of thin scrap to the bandsaw to cut a line on the top slice a set distance inside the hollow in the first slice. I flip the scrap to cut the other side, then use the drill press, bandsaw and a little trial-and-error to adjust the size of the window.
(You could also use a router table for this step, by using the bottom slice as a pattern for trimming the top slice, with an oversized bearing to establish the inset.)
Step 5: Position the Charging Cable
The phone has to come down exactly onto the charging cable when it's placed in the holder. I position the charging cable by drilling an oversized space for it, then use epoxy to secure the charging cable while it's plugged into the phone.
Step 6: Glue the Charging Cable in Place
I drill a passage through the base for the cable can pass through and figure out how the cable will exit the stand with minimal rubbing. Since the lightning connector end of the cable is smaller than the USB adapter, I thread the cable through the base before gluing it to the slice.
The scrap clamped to the phone above represents the flat plane of the base, so the phone should be facing away from the cord.
I glue the cable in two steps. I position the phone at an angle and fix the cable in place with a little epoxy, then position the slice vertically and complete the gluing, using lots of masking tape and injecting glue carefully with a syringe. Nobody wants epoxy in the phone!
Step 7: Finishing Up
Once the glue sets, I glue the slices to the base and test. If I've been careful, it will take minimal trimming and sanding for the phone to fit perfectly.
I use shellac to add deepen the color of the burl.
Now I smile every night when I plug in my phone!