First thing you will want to do is get your materials and tools ready to cut.
In order for the carve to be precise, and fit the iPhone 6 just right, please read through all of these instructions first before attempting the carve and be careful as you do. iPhones (as you probably know) have extremely low tolerances. Unfortunately, this means that to get something that looks good and works, the tolerances on this carve will need to be low as well. On the flip side of that, if you follow this project closely, then your case will fit your iPhone like a glove just like other iPhone 6’s because they are all very close to the same.
Everything should be measured twice and everything should be set as square to the X and Y of your machine as possible.
For this project I have listed in the BOM that you will want 3/4in walnut. this can be substituted for most woods, but I would stick with hard woods that are similar in cutting to walnut so that you don’t have to tinker with feeds and speeds too much, but if you know what you are doing then I don’t see why this carve couldn’t be done in any material Easel and X-Carve will cut. (aluminum would be pretty rough on your iPhone though)
The pictures will show a carve that I did out of reclaimed Rimu (a native New Zealand wood). It has similar milling properties to walnut, hence the recommendation.
Note: You will need to thickness your material to as close to 13mm as you can. I use the X-Carve to do this by subtracting material from both the front and back in order to get the most clean and co-planer surface that I can.
The dimensions of the material you want to start the carve with are X > 92mm, Y > 186mm , Z = 13mm
The depths on this carve are very specific, so I’ll reiterate… make sure that your material is co-planer on the front and back (the front and back are parallel with each other) and that the material is 13mm thick.
You will probably want to have about 8 clamps for this as well, but your milage may vary.
First thing to carve is a fixture. This will hold your material in place while the case is being carved and will help to keep everything aligned.
Using the “pins” that are created, you will be able to register the material through all of the cuts and if you make it out of something like HDPE or something else sturdy, then you will be able to use it over and over again.
Leave the fixture clamped to the exact same place for all of these steps.
After reading through the instructions once, come back to this step and use the “Open in Easel” button to get to the Pin Holes. Use these pin holes to create a pocket larger than your material, and at least 3.5mm deep leaving the “Pin Holes” sticking up in the pocket 3.5mm or more.
Have I mentioned the need for accuracy? Note: measure your end mill carefully with calipers. Mine is more like 3mm than .125in… use this number measurement in all of your tool sizes and don’t just choose a 1/8" bit because it says so on the package.
Using the same Easel project that opens when you click “Open in Easel” you will want to cut the holes in your material.
Carve this piece off to the side away from your fixture.
If it is a different width or height that is fine, just keep the holes at the same distance from the Y-zero and then center the holes in your material’s X (only move the holes from side to side using the numbers not clicking and dragging).
You will start at the lower left corner for this carve.
I have included a small circle that the bit will go and touch just slightly on the surface. This can then be used later to find the center point. I used a compound square to mark a line from this center point to the bottom edge and then across the bottom and to the other side. This will really help later.
When you finish this step the holes you just carved, should fit snuggly over the pins in the fixture. Once you have the material in the fixture and it is pressed all of the way down and as flat as possible, clamp it in place. Once in place transfer your mark for center line to the fixture so you can reference it later.
Ok, you have the material in the fixture and ready to start the case.
I have set up the rest of these Easel projects to be centered on the X-Zero. This means that from now on you will place your bit at the bottom edge of the material and centered on that line that was made in the last step. (not at the lower left corner)
Here is the link to the next project:
This will carve the main surface of the back of the case and then pocket around the profile. It will also carve the hole for the camera, mic, and flash.
Forgot to take a picture of this step, but the Easel project is pretty self explanatory.
Due tot he complexity of the camera hole and the filet intersecting, I have broken this out into a separate project. Open this one, and close the last one. Your bit should still be sitting at the same X and Y zero. Lower the bit down by what your safe height is (3.8mm) in my case and you should have a good “home” to start this carve from.
This step is optional, but if you would like something custom on the back of your case then now is the time to carve it. I chose to carve a brail like maze on the back of mine, but it could be anything as long as you keep it pretty shallow. The case thickness is only about 2mm, but you could also do a cut through here, just cut past 3.7843mm and you should have a cut through.
Use the SVG I have included for this to get your layout set up and replace what is there in the project linked here:
Now is when all of the measuring and squareness and fixture come into play.
If you haven’t been cleaning up the chips then now is the time. You don’t want any of the chips getting in the way of your material lying absolutely flat in the fixture.
Unclamp your material, but leave the fixture clamped in place. Pull the material off and clean again.
Also de-burr your material. You can use a file or some sand paper for this, but I find that using a square of scotch-brite pad on the end of a Dremel tool works quite well. The wire brush for the Dremel does the trick too.
You want to de-burr the material so that it will lay completely flat in the fixture when you flip it over.
Flip the material over from left to right and place the holes back on to the pins. Firmly press the material down and make sure it is flat in the fixture. Then re-clamp the material back in place. The center line on the bottom should line up with the mark you made on the fixture.
Once you have the material back in the fixture, and aligned, and secure, you are ready for the final cut on the machine. this project will cut out a profile of the case form the opposite side and meet up this the previous cuts. It will also pocket out the inside of the case and through cut the camera hole. The pocket that it carves out will have a stepped filet on most height transitions.
There is an option you must decide upon here. Will you make the case a clip on style of case like in the pictures or will it just a sticky back to stay on? If you want to make it a clip on case there will be some hand carving in a later step. If you don’t want to do this, or don’t have the means to do it, then you can remove the top 6 layers in each corner of the case profile and then just add a sticky back. See the screen shot for a better view of what to delete.
There is another way to get the under cut, that I may amend to this project at a later date, but it needs some testing first. The two mentioned above are the most reliable.
Remember to set your X Y and Z zero to the bottom center edge of the material.
This will probably be the longest cut time compared to the others. There is much more material to be removed in this step, so be sure that the chips are cleared for the most accurate and clean cuts.
Yay, you are almost done.
You can unclamp your case and cut it free from the frame, being sure to cut the tabs flush with the case. I used a cut-off wheel on a Dremel tool to do this.
If you opted in the last step to keep the Easel project as is and carve for a clip in style, then you will need to undercut the four corners. I’ve tried to design this piece so that there is as little hand carving as possible, so there shouldn’t be too much material removed to get the desired undercut.
I used the same Dremel tool to do this with a cutter that had a ball on the end, but you could use sand paper, or a carving gouge style chisel to accomplish the same thing. Use the stepped filet as a guide for how to curve the inside and make sure that the iPhone will be able to slide into each corner square and flush with the sides. Post a comment if you need more explanation about this.
After each corner is carved out, then de-burr and sand the case. I used the wire brush and scotch-brite pad from above to smooth everything out. You may also want to round a few of the edges with the sand paper as well. Start with a 150 grit sand paper and work up to a 200 or even 350 to get it all nice and smooth. You may also want to stain or finish the case, but remember that it will be held and placed near a face, so use caution when choosing a finish.
J. Alexander Jacocks