I am always intrigued by what kinds of things can be made from wood ... such as a wooden case for a smart phone. Some of you may recall I made a case for another smart phone a few years ago. It was really a prototype to see if it could be done and what it would look like. The case was a bit on the thick side, but other than that, it worked well and looked great, but most of all, you get to learn things when you actually go about making things, I learned lots when making that first case.
With the knowledge that my next case needed to be thinner, I decided that the best way to do this would be to make my own very thin plywood back, by gluing together veneers. Before I started this whole process I decided that the workshop and workbench was not the safest place for my phone. In all the handling that would be needed to be done, I thought it would be just like me to drop it on the floor or drop a tool on it and break the glass ... so I made wooden blank of the phone, exactly the same size and thickness. This way I wouldn't have to worry that some calamity would happen to in the process.
To be honest, I tried a few different kinds of veneers that I had on hand, but that one that worked best for this application was some Phenolic Backed veneer that came from Oakwood Veneer Company. I sandwiched the Oakwood veneer between some plain, tight grain veneer I had on hand. The process is shown in the video. Once the back was made, the next process ...
... was to make the "L" frames that would be glued to the back and used to hold the phone. When making these frames you need to make sure you leave enough space for glue to adhere to at the bottom where they connect to the case. In my case, something close to 3/16 of an inch was sufficient. Again the process for cutting these is shown in the video.
The tough part is cutting the angles of the "L" frames. I used my sliding mitre saw, but it is dangerous to cut small pieces on ANY power saw so what I did was to tape the frame material to a larger piece of wood. This way by NOT cutting all the way through, I still got an excellent cut that was safe to do. You will need to make sure you have an excellent blade for this cutting. I would say 60 teeth would be insufficient, 80 or 90 teeth on a 10" blade will give you nice clean cut.
Cutting the edges of the frames is easy, cutting the bottom to match can be hit and miss so make sure you have a few spare pieces to work with.
The gluing of the frames to the plywood back is straight forward, but make sure that the edges are snug against your phone blank otherwise you will get an ill-fitting case. For the glue, I used simple, ordinary yellow carpenters glue. I had tested it ahead of time and found that it would be more than strong enough for a project like this.
After the frames were glued to back and allowed to dry and harden overnight the next step is cutting the slots for the phone controls. No trick here either, just go slow, take your time and do a good job.
The last step, as with any woodworking project is the finishing. I did not want a case that was a high gloss, so opted for one of the hardening oil finishes. In my case I like Saico or Osmo, this project used Saicos and it gave me a nice luster finish that really makes the wood stand out, but the finish does not distract from the wooden case. It looks awesome.
There are all sorts of different things that can be made from wood, some of them, like this case are bit less traditional but that's what makes them unique. Making things from wood ... a great way to spend some time ...
Copyright Colin Knecht