Handmade Father's Day

For Father's Day I decided to make my dad something special.  He's taught me so much, and has always been there to answer the crazy questions that tend to pop up mid-project.   Plus, I had found already found the perfect gift-worthy project-- a handmade iPhone dock. 

I'm an architectural historian by day, and the architectural firm I work for specializes in restorations of historic buildings.  It just so happened that we were working on an 18th-century house in town that needed historically-accurate flooring for repairs and a new addition to the house.  In the 18th century, heart pine was the flooring of choice in this part of the world.  It is dense, insect-resistant, and beautiful, nothing like the pine lumber you see at the big box stores.  Unfortunately, heart pine is very difficult to find, as all the old-growth pine trees are nearly gone.  Instead, timbers are often salvaged, most often from old mills being torn down, and re-sawn into flooring.  In all flooring jobs, there will be some waste, and I was lucky enough to snag some of the flooring off-cuts. 

So, I had a small stock of beautiful heart pine floor boards, and just needed to find the perfect project to showcase the wood properly.  Since the pieces of pine I had were quite small, usually 4-6" wide, and 12" long max, I was limited by the size of the piece.  

 Koostik Original iPhone amplifier

Koostik Original iPhone amplifier

I got to searching, and found this great wooden iPhone passive (no electricity/battery needed) amplifier by Koostik.  I really love the design, minimal, letting the wood be the star.  It also works really well at amplifying the sound from the iPhone's integrated speakers.  

With a little more searching, I also found plans to build something similar to the koostik on Woodworkcity.com.  However, the design differed a bit from the koostik, mainly the proportions and the placement of the holes.  Also, after reading the comments on the woodworkcity.com project there was a general consensus that the flat bottom of the holes would dampen the sound, resulting in less projection than the koostik.  

 woodworkcity.com iPhone amplifier plans

woodworkcity.com iPhone amplifier plans

With these considerations in mind, I got to sketching and soon had a design I could live with.  Since I don't have a CNC machine, those perfectly round holes on the koostik would be impossible, so instead I searched for the perfect small bowl instead.  I finally found the perfect ceramic sauce dish at World Market, and modified the design to fit the bowl perfectly.  

In the end, I used two pieces of 1x poplar for the back and middle of the "sandwich" and a piece of the reclaimed heart pine for the front.  I used my brand new Dewalt trim router to mill the pieces, (after a bit of trial and error) and then glued everything up.  The last step before sanding and staining was to cut a 10 degree bevel on the bottom so the phone would tilt back a bit and would be less likely to fall out.  (I actually ended up adding some brass nails to the front later on to hold the phone even more securely.)  

After some stain, (General Finishes Gel Stain in Java) I also added a removable felt base held on with some super-strong rare earth magnets to protect any furniture it sits on and secure an optional charger cable in place.  

I'm quite happy with how it turned out, and have started two other versions for myself.  It was a bit of a learning curve with the router, (first time using one since 8th grade shop class!)  but I think it game out great!  I'm quite proud of it.  So proud, in fact, I made this awesome stop-motion movie to show it off a bit. :)