Introduction: Phone Case Made Out of Popsicle Sticks

About: hi! i'm @wagglefingers on twitter. || industrial design student || the first craft project i ever did was turning a pringles can into a pencil holder. never really went further than that TBH.

yep, it's a phone case with working buttons and a flippity flap, made out of popsicle sticks and glue. it's about 90% popsicle sticks because the "core", if you will, of the panels on the front and back is folder board, there's cushioning inside made out of foam rubber (or linso), and the hinge is made out of canvas. everything else is made out of popsicle sticks.

this idea is more of an improvement on an original idea than anything else. before this i made a phone case out of cardboard, which was great but the paint job didn't look very presentable. so i made it again but with popsicle sticks for more durability and aesthetic value.

i know it looks like a casket, LOL. i intentionally made it to be bulky because i know that there's a smaller possibility that my gadgets will get lost if they're in a bulky case. my ipod is exactly the same way; its rubber case makes it look twice as thick. my phone is pretty slim but under a layer of foam rubber, two layers of popsicle sticks and very thick flippity flap, it's the size of a goddamned purse. IT'S NOT KIDDING AROUND AND IT MEANS BUSINESS. if you want it slim, feel free to make a few tweaks if you can manage to make it slimmer.

in theory, this can be made for most smartphones but it will definitely be easier to make for phones with straight edges like iphones, nokias or sony xperias. if you've got a curvy samsung galaxy though... i wish you the best of luck!

ALSO, this is the first time i'm ever worked with popsicle sticks since kindergarten so if any of the steps look utterly ridiculous, do tell me!

Step 1: Materials


>>> popsicle sticks and/or tongue depressors

i used 2 sets, actually. i was looking for tongue depressors because i knew they were wider but i couldn't find any. instead i found a set of wide "popsicle sticks" under the art attack brand. yes it's a brand. it sells basic household and carpentry stuff under different names (like, pipe cleaners as "fuzzy wire" and cut dowel rods as "colored sticks". i guess tongue depressors are now "popsicle sticks" in art attack. it's amazing.)

the other set is regular-sized 1cm popsicle sticks.

>>> folders

>>> double sided tissue tape

>>> masking tape

>>> foam rubber

>>> canvas

(if you want to make the flippity flap)

>>> white glue

>>> cyanoacrylate superglue

you won't use this much since the sticks and superglue are NOT friends, but it will come in handy


>>> binder clips

>>> sandpaper

>>> a wooden box

this is where you'll clamp some of the parts so it has to be an open-top box, smaller than your phone, the angles should be perfect right angles and the panels should be thin enough to clip on with your binder clips. if you have a proper clamp though, CONGRATULATIONS!

>>> a craft cutter

>>> a ruler (and a caliper, if you have one)

>>> a triangle

>>> push pins

Step 2: Measuring and Planning

so lay down your phone on a flat surface and measure the length, width and thickness of your phone. it was easy for me since my phone is very boxy. please take into account other bumps like buttons or a camera lens that sticks out, etc. leave allowances for them.

then, start to plan your design. it should be quite easy since we're just making a little glorified box. however, you should take into account things like if you're going to conceal the edges, you have to make a 1.5 mm allowance for the popsicle sticks. it's pretty much just a game with allowances and combined thicknesses. i drew my plan out while working to keep track.

Step 3: Making the Back Panel

so my back panel's size is basically the size of my phone body + buttons on the side + 1 mm allowance on each edge to accomodate the padding.

i first made a little sheet by sticking on some popsicle sticks to the folder board with some double-sided tape. a good 25% of the popsicle sticks in a pack will have wonky edges, so try to avoid those when making sheets like this. after the sheet is done, cut out the back panel. fill the gaps between the sticks with white glue and let it dry under some weight to make sure it dries flat. make sure it's protected by some plastic so it doesn't stick to your weight. after it's dry (like after 2 hours), take it out and cut out holes for the camera and speakers.

it's hard to cut holes, but what i did was, after i drew on the hole to be cut, i drove a push pin into the corners of the hole until it came through. the little holes help with stopping the cutter from going past its mark, and they tell you where the hole will be on the other side so you can start cutting from there too.

Step 4: Making the Side Panels

the side panels are 2 layers thick and have consistent widths. i first cut strips of the appropriate widths and trim them to the right lengths. it might be annoying to cut the sticks down one by one, so i made a little jig to help me. then, cut out the holes for the buttons, the earphone jack, the charger outlet, and the microphone. use the push pin to mark your corners and cut the holes out. do this for all the layers. after that, i glued the layers together with white glue. they weren't flat so the binder clips help them get into shape while drying.

Step 5: Gluing the Side Panels Together

this is a bit tricky. i used white glue to bond the edges together, and i clamped them with binder clips to the sides of the box while they dried so they come out with perfect right angles and strong joints. ideally, you wait for one joint to dry completely before you work on another one, but since i'm an impatient brat i just used masking tape to hold 2 of the side panels in place while the other 2 panels were clamped on properly to the box. it turned out beautifully when i woke up the next morning.

Step 6: ​gluing the Back Panel to the Side Panels

so slip in the back panel inside the side panel frame, lay this setup on a flat surface, put some glue on the edges and corners, and let it dry. the back panel really wasn't flat at all so i put some weight on it while it bonded to the side panel frame. i made sure that my weight was covered with sellotape so the glue won't stick to it.

after it's dry, fill in the gaps with white glue and sand until you're happy

Step 7: Attaching the Padding

cover the inside of the side panels with appropriately-sized padding. the padding i used is 1mm-thick black foam board. i assume you can also use double-sided tape as padding (the one with foam) as long as one side is covered. make sure that the padding will cover the holes for the buttons, but will leave the holes for everything else open. i stuck them on with double-sided tape.

Step 8: Covering the Edges

i concealed the edges with a layer of popsicle stick. the side panels + the padding turned out to be 5 mm thick all in all, so i cut that out and glued it on the the tops of the side panels. i used some masking tape to hold them down since not all of them were flat

Step 9: Making the Buttons

the bottoms of the buttons are actually attached to the padding itself so they will bounce back when you press them. the buttons also don't lose any of their sensitivity. so make a couple of buttons for the volume and the power. make sure they're thicker than the side panels so they stick out, and that they have a lot of allowance. carefully stick them on to the padding with superglue, and avoid the edges of the hole.

check the rest of your case. if there are still gaps or dents, fill them with glue and sand until everything is nice and smooth and perfect.

if you want your phone case to be open, you're done! move on to the next steps if you want a flippity flap.

Step 10: Impregnating the Canvas for the Hinge

take a piece of canvas and brush unadulterated white glue all over the surface. let it dry, then repeat the process. this piece of canvas here is impregnated with 6 layers of glue (3 in front, 3 at the back). this will make sure that when you cut it, the threads of the canvas never come apart when you cut it and use it as a hinge.

Step 11: Make the Flap Panel

the canvas is actually sandwiched between two layers of popsicle sticks, then i concealed the edges.

first, cut the canvas out. you would like some allowance to stick one side to the flap panel. the other side will be stuck to the side of the main phone case, covering the entire side BUT avoiding the volume buttons.

i made the flap panel the same way i made the back panel: sticking popsicle sticks to some folder board, then cutting it out. however, after i cut it out, i trimmed some allowance off the folder board layer. it peeled off easily since it was just the tape holding it together. this is to make space for the canvas in the sandwich.

glue the canvas to the popsicle sticks with white glue, and stick on another layer of sticks with double-sided tape to complete your sandwich. fill in the gaps with glue, and, like the back panel, let it dry under some weight to make sure everything's nice and flat. conceal the edges if you have to with a layer of popsicle sticks, much like the way we concealed the edges for the main phone case.

Step 12: Attaching the Flippity Flap to the Case

i attached the canvas to the case with white glue. to make sure that the adhesive stays on the lower half of the side panel only, i put some masking tape on the top half of the case and the canvas. so glue the two together, let it dry for a couple of hours, peel off the masking tape and you're done!

i wish i had some mahogany-tinted varnish with me because i really wanted it to match our wooden furniture (ha!) but alas, all i have is some clear varnish and it's now gooey because of air exposure. that's why i decided to leave it unfinished. i like the texture anyway. for future models i may experiment with kolrosing and other finishing techniques but for my first wood project i think this will do.

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