This is a docking/ charging station that I built to hold and charge my Kindle, iTouch, iPod, phone, and GPS. The design works well for fewer or more things to charge (add or remove shelves; add or remove cable channels). Best part : it was cheap - less than $15 for the materials.
Step 1: Materials & Tools
The main pieces are very cheap "craft wood" from a craft/ hobby shop (Michael's or Joanne's). The "boxes" are made from very think pine or thick balsa wood. I have no idea what the original purpose was: they might be lids. They are very inexpensive - less than $2 each.
The dowels are hardwood from the lumber section of Home Depot - also very inexpensive.
- Shallow boxes are 9" X 9".
- Round dowel is 5/8 diameter 48" long - Use only if you can cut them to the EXACT SAME size and make sure the ends are even.
- Square dowels - 1.2 in sides; 48 inches long - I used these when I found that i couldn't cut the round dowels with enough precision.
- The top shelf piece is just another piece of "craft wood". Length of the top shelf piece should match the width of the boxes. This was also a 'craft wood" piece of heavy balsa.
- Wood glue (aka Carpenter's glue)
- Sand paper (I used 320 and 600)
2. OPTIONAL THINGS (I had these left over from other projects).
- Adhesive-backed felt (to line the shelves and protect your phone, etc.). Alternative: thin foam sheets. These come in more colors than the felt (which is always green). A spray-on adhesive works well with the foam.
- Tiny 3M Command strips/ hooks that are supposed to be used to hang tiny things on walls. I used them to hold the cables against the dowel legs between shelves. These also prevent the cables from slipping when the phone, iPod, etc. is removed.
- Paint/ stain. I used a red mahogany stain for the boxes and the top shelf. The legs between the shelves are pecan stain.
- Small vinyl bumpers or felt pads for the bottom of the piece.
- Saws or other tools to cut the dowels. I used a grinder, which is really for metal, so i had to sand a lot.
- Sand paper or sander. I used a hand-sander and a Dremel for sanding - these are small pieces.
- Rags or brushes for the paint or stain.
- A drill of some sort to cut the channels for the cords. I alternated between a full-size drill and a Dremel. The Dremel works best.
Step 2: Cut the Wood. Sand.
SHELVES Cut the channels for the cables.
Estimate the number of things that will be stored on each shelf, and cut a channel for each one.
I used an electric drill to cut the holes, then enlarged it so that the cable is pushed into a channel..
The channelis really a "U" shape that will hold the cable. Later in the process I added cable holders to the legs to keep the cables from flipping out when a device is removed.
ROUND DOWELS: I estimated 4" for the legs between shelves - it depends on what you're charging and how big your hands are.
For this design, cut the legs:
Six legs - 2.5 inches long
Six legs - 2 inches long
Four legs - 1.5 inches long.
Shelves: The wood is not really smooth. Since it's cheap - like very soft pine - i sanded very lightly with 220 paper; 300 would probably work well. I used a small Dremel sander for the inside edges of the boxes.
Dowels: i just rounded off the edges with the Dremel. I didn't touch the 'body' of the dowels, because I wanted to make sure they are even for a tight join.
To sand the channels so that rough edges don't snag or cut your cable covers: wrap a piece of sandpaper around a round toothpick or bamboo skewer and push/ pull it in and out of the channel.
Step 3: Paint & Sand (Optional, But Recommended)
I found out after I started to stain the boxes that the cheap pieces that I used did not stain evenly. I suspect that glue from the original manufacturing process was smeared on the outside of the piece.
I didn't bother to stain the floor of the boxes because I planned to cover it with colored foam, but I stained the edges in case there were gaps between the foam edge and the box. The inside edges of the boxes aren't equal.
After the stain dried, i sanded with 320 paper, then went on to 600 paper, just to see what it did.
(I skipped the polyurethane).
Step 4: Assemble and Add the "extras"
- Trace the shelf; cut the felt or foam slightly smaller. for the top shelf, make sure to cut it smaller so that the cable holes are uncovered.
- Spray adhesive on the foam - on a newspaper, or someplace away from your shelf: the spray adhesive is hard to control. Make sure you spray the edges so they don't curl up inside the shelf.
GLUE THE WOOD PIECES
- Carpenter's glue works well. Just make sure to clamp or weigh it tightly so that the join is strong.
- Let tit dry for 24 hours.
- Sequence for square dowels: glue the dowels together first into stacks, then glue the stacks to the shelves. Clamp or weigh them while the glue dries.
- Glue the Command plastic hooks to the shelf pieces and the dowel legs, so that the cables don't dangle.
Step 5: Add Cables and Use.
Thread the cables through the plastic holders. These will keep the cables from slipping out when your iPod, Kindle, phone, etc. is not docked.
Plug it into the power source, and you're ready to charge !
This design is good enough to be functional. Better wood and more skill in woodworking would improve it and make it look better. But this approach was good enough to eliminate the tangled cords, lost phones, etc.
Next design: how to store the power cord, with the USB plug-ins, etc. so they're not flopping all over, too.
Improvements: a better grade of wood; more space between the main shelves; make the channels deeper.