The lead up to this project is a little convoluted – I hope you’ll bear with me!
A while back I was watching one of those making-of-the-movie features and they were showing how they manufacture the physical sounds for the soundtrack. It was fascinating – although perhaps just to a nerd like me…
One of the sounds they wanted to create was a tree falling so naturally they recorded the sound of a tree falling. Surprisingly it turned out not to be as authentic as they wanted. So they built a small plywood tunnel and filled it with wood scraps and dowels. They placed a speaker at one end and a recorder at the other. Then they played the wood falling sound and recorded it again as it reverberated through the tunnel. They claimed it added a wood resonance.
How cool is that??
Okay, let’s park that for now and move onto the next part of this project – involving my trusty iPhone. Canny gadget though it is, it doesn’t have great sound quality. In fairness it’s not intended to be a stereo but since it holds most of my music I don’t see why it shouldn’t be, especially with the right set of speakers…
I’ve seen beautiful examples of iPhone speakers on Etsy made out of all sorts of unusual materials. Problem is that they mainly come with some kind of finish. Which is understandable since not many folk would be keen to expose their precious techy devices to rough edges or surfaces.
However raw wood was exactly what I was looking for and so began my hunt for a chunk of good-looking wood.
Sure I could have bought some lumber from Home Depot and distressed it ’til it looked old. But I wanted something genuinely rough. So I watched junk piles and the ever replenishing dumpsters behind my apartment building.
Months go by and no luck. Then one day I’m talking with a friend about a project he’s working on. He was taking an old dirty beam and making it into a wall brace for a cantilevered table. I can’t describe it well enough so I did a sketch:
As soon as I figured out what he was up to I got excited and asked if I could have any scrap bits from the project.
Which is how I ended up with this gorgeous hunk of wood that had character to spare! Best part of this piece was that the groove across the top was already in place when it came to me. Perfect depth holding a phone.
As you can see he had cut into the back to create a cleat for wall mounting. That part wasn’t quite in line with what I was looking but it gave me an idea for one more thing to add to the design. Wouldn’t it be handy to have a place to store the cord?
Here it is with the cleat sticking out:
Alright – let’s get started! Out come the tools!
First step was to drill through the groove at the top to allow room for the charging cord to feed through:
Then I needed to sand out the splinters inside the groove. Here’s where I wished for a router but since I don’t have one (yet) I improvised with what I had on hand and wrapped a drill bit with sandpaper. I smoothed out the area around the hole to avoid damaging the phone but I left the remaining raw edges inside the groove. I’ll explain why in a minute.
Next I drew an outline on the bottom of the wood to denote the area to be carved out for cord storage.
This is the part where I’m going to warn anyone who knows anything about woodworking to look away. The chiseling you’re about to bear witness to will appall you. What can I say – this was the first time I used my chisel to actually carve. Usually it’s my go-to tool for rough work & troubleshooting.
Eagle eyed readers might spot the clean laundry sitting mere feet away from flying debris and dust. I did mention I’m a lousy housekeeper right?
Here’s the finished nook for the cable and plug – fits perfectly!
The mistake for this project is glaring in this photo – splinters sticking out in the nook. Truthfully it was because at this stage in the project I realized I was late for a dinner party and rushed to finish. Maybe someday I’ll go back and smooth that part out. Although because it’s on the inside and not really doing any harm the chances I’ll actually follow through on that are slim….
Here’s the cord feeding through the block and out a small groove cut out of the back.
And there you go, raw wood iPhone ‘speakers’, with hidden cord storage. And best of all – the total cost for the project was nada! Well, unless you count two splinters and one bleeding thumb….
And here’s the crazy part – I love the sound quality. The imperfect edges inside the groove provide plenty of surfaces for the sound to bounce off. The resulting music is amplified but also kinda grainy (no pun intended!)
And it’s portable! Here it is following me to another room in the apartment.
Auntie Moonbeam will recognize the books in the background here. My grandparent’s bibles. I took this shot because I like to think Grandpa would have like this project. Or as my cousins and I are fond of saying:
Vic woulda wanted it that way.