I finally bought myself a shiny new Droid X. Only one problem, I tend to destroy nice things through use, mis-use, or outright stupidity. Most of the cases at the Verizon store are less than appealing, so I built myself an impact resitant belt case.
Kydex is a heat moldable plastic sheet and can be purchased easily online. It is usually used for knife and gun sheaths. The dificulty here is that I was unwilling to direct a heat gun at my expensive new phone in order to form the plastic.
A few basic tools, a couple of steps, and not much time and I have a descent looking case that I think avoids the "overly connected self important business person" look.
tools: plane or belt sander; table saw or hand saw; drill w/ bits; random orbit sander or sandpaper and block; heat gun or oven; rivet setting tool; spring clamps; chisels.
materials: scrap lumber; Kydex, I bought mine at knifekits.com; rivets, again from knifekits.com; instant glue.
Step 1: Making the Blank
In order to avoid overheating the phone when shaping the Kydex, I made a passable copy out of scrap pine.
-measure the thickness of the phone and plane the board to match
-rip the stock to equal the phone or add a couple mm to the width if you don't want a super tight fit.
-cut the blank to the same length as your phone
-glue on extra wood anywhere there is an irregularity in the phone case
-shape the thick parts of the plank so they look like kinda like the phone
Step 2: Molding the Front Piece
-Wear appropriate saftey gear, gloves, glasses, etc. whatever you think is neccesary.
-Heat the Kydex on a non-flammable surface, I used the table saw top. Try not to set your shop on fire
-Cut a piece of Kydex large enough to cover the blank plus a generous extra so you don't have to re-do it when its too short
-begin softening the Kydex. I used a heat gun and did individual parts, but the entire piece can be heated in the oven and done all at once as well. It gets to about the feeling of al dente pasta when its ready. Don't overheat or it will burn.
-As it gets soft, clamp blocks at the edge of your blank to hold the plastic until it cools. I worked around the perimeter in stages.
- heat the entire middle area and mold it. I clamped a big sponge over the area so that it would apply pressure over the contour
-let it cool for 5 or 10 min and un-clamp it.
- if it isn't right, just re-heat and try again
Step 3: Make the Back
-Cut another slightly oversize piece for the back.
-I left a 2.5" long tab at the top so I could make a belt clip. Alternativly, you could install a seperate belt clip.
-shape a piece of thin stock to match the intended belt. I made mine 1" wide and rounded the edges.
-heat the area and wrap it around your blank. Clamp and let cool
Step 4: Finger Cutouts, Trimming
- Cut out opening in the sides of the front piece so you will be able to grab the top of your phone.
-trim both sides of the case so the edges are even and square. I used a table saw but a multi tool like this one would probably be safer. http://www.craftsman.com/shc/s/p_10155_12602_009CH293000B?vName=Power+Tools+%26+Equipment&cName=Power+Tools&sName=Portable+Power+Tools&prdNo=33&blockNo=33&blockType=L33&mv=s2f
Step 5: Assembly and Finishing
I joined the 2 pieces with special rivets bought from the same source as the Kydex. You could use chicago screws as well.
- Clamp the 2 halves together so they don't move.
- Mark and drill appropriate size holes for the rivets.
-After setting the rivets, round all of the corners and edges with a file or sander.
- Clean out the case. Anything left inside that is sharp enough to scratch the phone will do so because there isn't much room inside.
-finished, you should have a tough, hard case to protect your expensive phone.