I’m very excited to share with you my design for a concrete & wood iPad holder. It’s uses are limitless.... following a recipe online? Keep your iPad safe from splashes and in a comfortable position to read in the kitchen. Reading the chords online to play your guitar... here’s your music holder. Watching a film in bed?... get your viewing angle just right! You can even use it as an iPad tripod for table top photography - really handy if you sell stuff on eBay etc.
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Step 1: Find a Bowl for a Mould
Start by getting yourself an old plastic bowl that you no longer need - I would say minimum 4” diameter - and make sure you choose a shape you like, as this will determine the shape of your concrete base
Step 2: Prepping the Mould
Drill a 6mm (¼”) hole right in the centre. Now make sure your bowl is very clean (don’t leave any soup in there!).... and give the inside a polish, with car wax, to help release the concrete later.
Get a short length of threaded bar (or cut the head off a bolt), thread a nut on, leaving some thread exposed, and pop it through the base, leaving the nut on the outside, then secure the bowl in a vice, so it’s ready for the next stage.
Step 3: The Concrete
Mix up a batch of concrete.... if you’ve not used this before, it’s sand, gravel and cement powder..... not just the cement powder! It’s sold in readymix bags in diy stores. Make the mix wet enough to easily run into the mould, but not too wet, as this will weaken it.
Fill the mould right to the top - don’t worry if you get cement on the threaded bar sticking out, we will be cutting that off later. Now leave it for a couple of days to get nice and hard. In the meantime, let’s do some joinery.
Step 4: Making the Main Arms
The size of the wood you use is pretty flexible... whatever you think looks right! I used 25mm x 9mm hardwood strip (1” x ⅜”).
You’re basically making oversized lolly sticks (popsicle sticks), so find something the right diameter to draw round to get a nicely proportioned end profile.... a washer is ideal, as it also helps you mark the centre holes.
Make three of these sticks approx 150mm (6”) long. I used a scroll saw, which gives a wonderfully fine cut and hardly needs any sanding.
You also need to drill a hole in each end to match the nut & bolts you’ll assemble it with later... ¼” (6mm) is ideal.
Step 5: Making the Wooden Bottom Bracket
Now make up three u shaped pieces... these are shorter, and have one flat end, and one rounded end to match your popsicle sticks. Make one at 50mm (2”) long (in other words two times the width of your wood) and 2 at 25mm long (1”) (in other words equal to the width of your wood).
After sanding, glue them together as shown and clamp tightly till rock hard, then give it a further sand to remove any glue residue etc.
You now need to drill into the flat edge, to fix the wooden bracket to the concrete. It’s best to drill an oversize hole to take a threaded insert to match the threaded bar (see pic). Alternatively, drill a hole just smaller than the threaded bar.
Step 6: Final Assembly
Grind off the bit of threaded bar sticking out of the top of the concrete, and grind the surface of the concrete as flat and smooth as you can. Then pop it out of the mould.... mine was quite stubborn!
Now it’s simply a question of using nuts and bolts to fix the wooden arms and base together. Tip! Use nyloc nuts (these have a nylon insert so they stay tightened to exactly the tightness you choose). This allows you to adjust the tightness so the arms are loose enough to move but tight enough to stay put! Tip! It’s easiest to assemble the arms, then fix that assembly to the concrete base.
Step 7: IPad Support Plate
I made mine out of an old offcut of aluminium composite sign board, but plywood would work just as well. Cut it to match the rounded rectangle shape of your iPad, but leave a border all the way round. To stop the iPad sliding off, make little sugru fixings.... to do this I wrapped my iPad in a few layers of cling film (Saran wrap?), and put a touch of dish soap on the plastic. I then moulded the sugru round the ‘protected ipad’ to Get a precise profile for the bottom hooks, but removed the iPad while I left the sugru to set. I just moulded the top sugru hook by eye.... I found it easiest to do this after the bottom hooks had set.
I have also seen people just use cheap self adhesive plastic hooks rather than sugru.
Drill a hole for the iPad camera lens, and once complete fix the iPad support plate to the wooden arms using a pair of angle brackets. Pop rivets are best for this as they don’t protrude much at all.
Step 8: Finishing Off - Optional
Polish the concrete with furniture polish or car wax to keep it clean in the kitchen. You could finish the wooden arms in the same way, or even lacquer them if you wish. I also recommend glueing some felt to the concrete base to stop it scratching tabletops etc.
Step 9: Thank You
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this. Why not experiment with other sizes, for an iPad mini, or even a phone. Maybe you could use actual popsicle sticks for that!