Walnut Slab Charging Cradle
Remember charging cradles and docks?! Sure you do, they used to come with your iPod... or maybe they were sold separately? I can't remember, but I wanted to make one for charging my phone on my bedside table. It's a convenient way to sit your phone upright so you can see incoming notifications, check the time, or watch videos on it without having to hold it, and it charges at the same time.
There were some cheap ones on amazon, but I wanted to make my own, so I grabbed a scrap piece of walnut and a USB cable and got to work! This project could easily be adapted to work with any phone and any piece of wood.
Here's the scrap of walnut I started with. I bought a piece of walnut to do this project and another one. In the other project I made a very similar wireless charger. You can check it out here.
I bought the wood for about 10 bucks and I paid 11 dollars for a right angle USB cable. You'll see why it needs to be right angle soon.
Now I had to cut a grove into the piece of walnut that was the same width as my cellphone. I set my table saws blade to a 15 degree angle and raised it 1/2" above the surface of the table. I pushed the piece through the table saw again and again adjusting between cuts to make the cut wider.
It needs to be said here, please exercise extreme caution when using a table saw. They are not toys and it's very easy to lose your fingers if you aren't careful!
A quick test fit and it fits perfectly. I cut the channel wide enough that my phone would fit with its case on, because who wants to take their phones case off just to charge it.
Next I needed to add my USB cable. I wanted to have it come out in the middle of the cradle so I marked the exact middle. Then I found a drill bit that was the same diameter as the USB connector. Being careful not to pick a drill bit that was any bigger than was absolutely necessary. The closer you get the cleaner the finished product will look.
Holding my drill at approximately the same angle as the grove in the piece of walnut I drilled a hole right through to the other side.
Now I needed to add a path to route the USB cable through on the bottom side of the cradle. For this job I used a trim router with a 3/8 cutting bit. Starting from the outside of the slab I cut a channel into the walnut that the USB cable will sit into.
Right around the hole on the bottom side of the piece of walnut I needed to remove a little bit more material to allow the USB connector to sit flush inside. Because I don't have a plunge router I had to use a drill press with a big drill bit to make my hole.
After it was all said and done this is what I was left with.
I sanded the whole thing down until it was extremely smooth. I started with 80 grit sand paper and worked my way all the way up to 220 grit sand paper.
I took my time and rounded sharp edges and removed any imperfections in the wood.
Then I used a wipe on poly urethane product to seal the wood, protect it from moisture and bring out the natural grain of the wood.
Ok you guys ready for the scary part? This is the part where I risk ruining my whole phone for this project!
I applied painters tape to the bottom half of my phone, carefully masking off everything except for the USB port.
Then I plugged the USB cable into my phone through the piece of wood and flipped everything over as you can see in this photo.
I used a 2 part epoxy to secure the USB cable into the bottom of the charging cradle. My thinking was that the easiest and best way to make sure the USB cable would be at the perfect height and alignment was to connect it to phone, and then just glue everything in place.
I crossed my fingers and hoped the epoxy didn't get on my phone in anyway.
And wouldn't you know it, it worked! The final product is clean and works great. I didn't ruin my phone and now I have an awesome charging cradle!
Here it is back at home with my phone successfully charging in it. It matches my desk pretty nicely so I might even just leave it here so I can charge my phone while I'm working at my computer.
Thanks for checking out my project. Hopefully you enjoyed it. If you want to try it yourself there are more detailed instructions on my website, which I've linked below.
Feel free to ask me any questions or leave your comments down below!
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