Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

Cell phone amplifier

I’ve been wanting to make a wooden cell phone amplifier for awhile. There are a myriad of plans available, some being really cool and some being mundane (but probably just as effective). I had this plan from Woodsmith and figured I’d try it out with some modifications to simplify it and to account for the fact that I only have a benchtop band saw with a 3.5 inch cut depth.

Here’s what the plan had in mind versus what I ended up creating.

Woodsmith Smartphone Amplifier My Smartphone Amplifier

Same idea and (probably) the same functionality, but I didn’t have any fun wood (just pine) and I don’t have a large enough bandsaw to do the size cuts they call for in the plans. Plus, let’s face it, I knew I was going to butcher the thing, so better to do it with scrap 2x4s instead of maple and mahogany as in the plan.

This does not look promisingTo accommodate the diminutive cut depth of my bandsaw, I milled down some 2×4 pieces using the table saw and the planer so they were 3" x 1.25". Then I cut out the patterns individually on each piece and glued them together. The picture on the left is what I ended up with after the glue-up. It’s a bit messy, but I spent some time with the belt sander and spindle sander (and some vigorous hand sanding) to get each piece cleaned up and to get rid of the glue that squeezed out. The sides were some glued-up 1x4s that I cut on the table saw. Super fancy, I know.

If you’ve ever seen any of the other woodworking I’ve posted about (other than shop carts and shop storage), you may have noticed that I always do the woodworking and Lori always does the finishing. I think I’ve stained one piece myself (the top of my couch table), but she’s stained and painted everything else. She’s got a lot of experience with that and, well, I don’t… not since high school.

Glued and stained (for the first time)Since this was, more or less, an experimental piece, I figured I would do the finishing myself… good practice and no risk! I wanted the center dark and the sides light (as indicated by my first picture), so after I sanded all the pieces, I stained the center pieces and glued it all together, leaving me with this beautiful chunk of wood. Looks pretty good, right?

But wait! I forgot that I have to cut this block on the bandsaw to turn it (roughly) circular, which means I’ll have to re-stain all the newly exposed edges that will appear after cutting. Oops. Not that big of a deal. So I made the cut on the band saw and re-stained those edge, staying mostly inside the appropriate lines thanks to some painter’s tape.

It's round and stained (for the next-to-last time)Okay. That’s fine. Everything is re-stained. The edges all look good. The stain is almost all where I intended it to go.

Except I forgot I had to router the edges to round them over, which means that I’m going to have to re-stain the edges yet again!

It all worked out in the end, though. There was just some extra staining due to my not planning ahead. The shellac went on just fine and the final product looks pretty good for a bunch of scrap 2x4s that were lying around the shop.

Plus it works absurdly well. The amplification that it provides is almost shocking, and there’s no need to keep it charged!

Overall, it was a win!

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