The most useful thing I ever made from palette wood

I recently got asked what was the most useful thing I ever made from pallet wood. I knew the answer immediately, but was somewhat reluctant to reply. Truth is, I’m almost embarrassed to say ‘made’ with regards to this object, but it is a fact that my little wooden phone stand is the most useful thing I have ever made from pallets. Well, it was made from the off cut from one plank of pallet wood, but I figure that still counts.

It took less than an hour to create if you exclude the time it took for the varnish to dry. Of all the pallet projects, this is the one that gets almost daily use in my home.

How to make a simple bedside phone stand

I cut the end off a pallet plank. The resulting piece was slightly longer than the length of my smartphone. I double checked and treble checked that the ends were square and flush with the sides. On smaller pieces of woodwork, even the tiniest errors in angles will be immediately visible to anyone who looks at it. I used a rough grit sandpaper to flatten out lumps and bumps till all was perfectly square and the surfaces looked nice and clean.

I wear a mask when sanding pallet wood as I don’t really know what is on the surface and don’t want it getting into my lungs.

Marking up

Next, using a properly sharpened pencil I marked up a couple of lines across the top for the groove where the phone will sit. They sat about a third of the way back from what I had decided was the ‘front’ and the space between them was 1.5cm. Again, measuring and re-measuring, ensuring the lines were straight was what took the most time, but it was time well spent.

marking out

I cut along the two marked lines to a depth of about a quarter of the thickness of the piece of wood. I clamped the wood down to my workbench in a sandwich with a sacrificial piece of scrap beneath and a thin bit of scrap on top to stop the d-clamp marking the wood. I used my ancient mitre saw to provide really accurate cut lines.

Next I cut another line between the two. This was just to make removing the waste easier. It gave me two thin pieces of wood to remove to make my groove.

It only took a minute using a chisel to take out the two thin pieces and then about five minutes sanding to get a nice smooth interior. I simply wrapped a bit of sandpaper round a pencil and filed it back and forward in the gap I had made to get an nice rounded bottom of the groove.

Wooden Phone Stand

Shaping the front

The d-shaped curve at the front of the piece of wood was done by eye. Rather than measure it, I planed a few strokes off the corner with a mini plane and then finished the curve by holding a piece of sandpaper in my palm and running the front edge back and forward in my hand till it was uniformly curved.

Finishing the piece

The the whole thing was polished smooth with a fine grain wet and dry paper.

Finally I applied a couple of coats of teak oil to protect the surfaces (sanding lightly with the wet and dry between coats of course) and the job was done.

I had thought it would be too simple to be effective. I considered adding an extra lip to sit behind the phone for extra support, simply because a block of scrapwood with a groove in it was somehow not complex enough. However as soon as I dropped the phone into the slot for the first time I knew that no further work was required. Now I revel in the simplicity of the thing and feel proud to have taken the (admittedly very small) effort required to make it.

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About the author

Loves to learn new things and make stuff...properly. Born and living in the Thames Valley west of London, England. I have an office job during the day, but evenings and weekends are all about making.