I’ve lived in my hobby shop for large parts of my life. Some of the readers on here might have seen the giant wooden Zen Stone and I’ve also done bigger projects like the D2 Jukebox dock and other wood projects. A lot of people ask me how I do these things and while some of them require a certain knowledge of electronics, the wood part of each project is 99% knowing what machine to use and how to use it.
Both Grahm and myself love docks for everything, unfortunately few players and gadgets have docks available. This is where the woodworking really comes handy, as you can make whatever you need quick and cheap. It looks more difficult than it is so in an effort to help people make their own docks and stand, here’s a guide on how to make your own docks and stands.
There are a billion tools that do the same things. I’m stuck with small handheld ones due to the limited space in my workshop, and they’ll do the job too. When making a dock, you either have to invest in tools, you already have tools, or you borrow someone’s workshop. Some of my favorite tools are pictured under this.
The first picture is a Dremel with a router attachment. A real Dremel (not the cheap knockoffs) is the most useful tool you’ll ever have. You can sand, polish, engrave, cut and so on with a single tool and you can buy attachments such as the router one in the picture. I’ll be using the router a lot with these docks, so a standalone router is a nice thing to have if you don’t go the Dremel route. The second tool is a Black & Decker precision belt sander. This is one of the most awesome sander’s I’ve seen, with the ability to sand down wood as if you were cutting butter with a hot knife. It’s a nice thing to have for an advanced workshop, but not necessary for these docks.
This is a normal jigsaw. If you don’t have room for big saw tables, get one of these. Fourth is a random orbital sander. Again, not that necessary but it’s a nice sander that isn’t as strong and powerful as the ones I use for forming wood. Fifth is a battey drill. Most people have one, I don’t use drills too much so I get by with a battery powered one.Sixth is a belt sander. Really useful for forming wood as it’s powerful and sands flat. Finally the last picture is simply a set of router tips. In this article I’ll be using sylinder formed ones without a sharp tip as these allow you to make grooves in wood leaving a nice surface. I’ll also be using a heat gun which isn’t pictured here. They have rather specialized uses and the only thing I ever use mine for is forming plastic. Luckily they are also very cheap.
There are a million ways you can make docks. Not long ago we showed you the worklog of a guy making a Samsung P2 dock which showed one way of doing it. I’ve made three docks for this article to give you some basic ideas. The total time spent for making and taking pics of these three docks were about 45-60 minutes, so it goes without saying I haven’t paid much attention to sanding and keeping things perfect. The point of this article is to show how to do things, not show 50 pictures of me measuring millimeters or sanding with 600 grain sandpaper. I’m also making these for a Sony player but obviousely it’s easy to adopt it for other players. Use the basic methods and do it properly to get a good result, it’ll look much better than these pics with a little time spent sanding.
I used some leftover wood I had lying around, but you should try to avoid wood with sticks in it (the brown thing on top) when you find your piece as it doesn’t react well to routers. This dock I’ll make to also have a data connector, so I measure the wood piece to have room for this. Draw a trace around the player and fasten it to a clamp. Set the router to carve just a little bit the first time until you get used to using one and don’t carve out the whole depth at once. The more wood you have to go through, the harder it is to control.
Use the router to carve out where the player will be. After the first round with the router, make sure the player fits. Even though I’m not doing any sanding at all with the example dock, it’s always a good idea to leave the sanding and shaping until the end when using a router – otherwise you might end up having to do it all over again if the router goes wild and ruines your dock. Increase the depth of the router and carve deeper and deeper for each time you trace the room for the player. Cut out the wood in the middle first, leaving the edges until you have removed the rest for each time you cut another level of wood. That way you’ll have less resistance. The router can easily slip and cut straight through wgere it shouldn’t, so BE CAREFUL and do it slow – especially the edges so it doesn’t cut staight through the dock walls.
Carve as many levels as you need to get a decent depth and make sure the player still fits. Obviously don’t cut so deep that you cut straight through the whole thing. To make room for the dock connector, measure the width of the dock connector and drill holes in the corresponding places on the dock. Get the router again and carve out the rest of the wood that you can’t get with the drill. Again, be careful! Make sure the dock connector fit, and fasten it with some hot glue or similar. If you want the dock to stand (not be on a wall like this one is made for), make a nice support for it. Sand it and make it pretty and you have yourself a nice dock. Do be aware that this dock is for data transfer. If it was for audio, you’d need to make room for an audio cable (in the same manner as the dock connector, use a drill) if the audio jack is on the bottom. Also notice that the way this dock is made makes it impossible to reach the volume controls on the side of the player, so dirtmonkey’s dock design is more useful for such a dock.
A piece of plexiglass and a heat gun makes for a quick and easy dock. The only thing I had lying around was 5mm thick plexi, which is rather thick and hard to bend, so when buying plexi for such a dock go for something thinner. Cut a piece a bit wider than the player and a little over twice as long. Measure it with the dock connector to see where it has to be bent to make room for the connector as well. Fasten it in the clamp with something to bend it over, like a piece of wood (of course make sure you don’t ignite the wood). Use the heat gun to heat the part that needs bending and bend it to make a support for the dock. Let it cool down and fasten the dock connector. I used poster tack for the example, but for a better looking more permanent solution a hot glue gun will do the job. Put a dash of hot glue on the connector and position it with the player plugged in while cooling so you know it’ll fit. This dock is easy but effective.
Another way of doing docks is of course to use both wood and plexiglass, or metal or whatever you like. This little stand can be made using a handsaw if you don’t have a router and is very quick to do. This version is a stand, so if you want a dock connector or audio jack in there then follow those steps form the first dock. Get a piece of plexi a bit wider and a bit higher than the player and a wood piece with the same width. Position the wood piece in the clamp as showed on the picture to angle the router to make an angled cutout. Once done, simple slide in the piece of plexi and you’re done. You could 8should) also make a small crevice for the player so it doesn’t slide off the wood, and again – use sand paper to get things smooth.
This is just a few examples of docks and stands you can make with relatively little experience. Most of the work lies in sanding things smooth and cutting straight, something I’ve ignored here since most people know how to use a piece of sand paper. Docks and stands are very simple devices that can be made in any way you like, so the skill is simply to imagine what you could do with the materials. If you have a Dremel, you can engrave plexi. If you have a heat pen, you can angrave wood. As Bert Monroy of Pixel Perfect says, it’s not about the end result of what you see here but the methods used in getting there. Also be careful so you don’t hurt yourself, we don’t take any responsibility for anyone hurting themselves.