Custom Hardwood iPhone 4 Back Panel

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Project by Woodworker123 posted 12-14-2011 06:42 PM 4088 views 7 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I went looking for a wooden back panel for my iPhone and was shocked to see the two companies selling them were charging $90-130.

So, I decided I could easily make the same (maybe even better) for much less. Here are a couple of prototypes I’ve made so far. They are both walnut, and the second one is laser engraved for a friend. Something new I found working on this project is Osmo Polyx Oil. I’ll have to write a review of it, because I found it much easier to use and better results than danish oil. For a hand rubbed oil finish, I don’t see myself going back to danish oil for any future projects.

Let me know what you think of them. A friend is working on a website design and I hope to launch in January here.

Update: Added a few photos of the packaging. I had cardboard laser cut for layers, so that the included tools (screwdriver, bits) nest under the wood back panel. The laser-cut cardstock sleeve has a logo cutout to show the wood grain underneath. This whole project has made me really envious of those with laser cutters, and depending on how well this project does I hope to purchase one in the next few months.

8 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


17985 posts in 3569 days

#1 posted 12-14-2011 06:54 PM

it looks a helluva lot better than the case i just got for my iphone … im not looking for you to give away your trade secrets here but did u hog it out with a router?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Woodworker123's profile


89 posts in 3416 days

#2 posted 12-14-2011 07:06 PM

Thanks. What case do you have for your phone right now? If you are looking for an actual case, look at I’ve always wanted one of their cases, but I never bought one because of the high price. Still, they look very nice.

Not routed. I considered that, and I think one of the two companies offering these does. I also considered using a friend’s Plasmacam CNC (with rotozip attached to it). In the end I went with laser cutting because it’s really cheap, and works well for the thin stock (~40 mils). Also, since I want to offer people custom laser engravings, I was going to have to find a shop that had a laser cutter and would work with me anyway.

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 3997 days

#3 posted 12-14-2011 08:04 PM

Have you tried peeling this off your phone yet? I’ve seen many of these before and always wonder what happens to your phone when you remove the adhesive? These are like thick veneer stickers correct? has some really cool examples as well. They claim there is no residue when removed. Skeptical.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View Woodworker123's profile


89 posts in 3416 days

#4 posted 12-14-2011 08:25 PM

Hey McLean, I’ve seen the KARVT and similar ones, but this one isn’t a veneer sticker like that.

It’s adhered to a plastic bezel, and lens cover. It replaces the glass panel, as opposed to being placed on top. The overall phone thickness remains the same. The main benefits of that being that it’s compatible with cases, bumpers, tripod mounts, etc. and that there isn’t underlying glass that could still conceivably crack if dropped. I could have lived with these drawbacks, and would have probably bought the KARVT if I had known about it sooner. Still, I’d prefer to replace the glass, just not for $90 when the KARVT is $25.

I was skeptical of the KARVT no residue claim too, but I’ve talked to someone who said he transferred it from one phone to another without leaving adhesive or having issues sticking to the new one. Even if it did leave some adhesive, you could use some acetone without worrying about hurting the glass.

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 3997 days

#5 posted 12-14-2011 09:44 PM

Jack, Thanks for the reply. There is certainly a market for these sorts of things. I was turned off by the karvt because of the possibility of residue remaining on the phone after removal or the edges filling up with lint after awhile. I saw jacksBacks a few months ago and it’s an interesting concept, but I agree with you on the $90-$130 price tag. OUCH! Also, the jacksBacks suffered a bit in the custom wood burning. Seemed a bit sloppy. I think you have found the perfect hybrid solution.

Your photos look really nice. Nice quality work. I hope you generate some orders. Good luck and great post.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View gurnie's profile


342 posts in 3598 days

#6 posted 12-14-2011 11:29 PM

So do you own a laser cutter or do you outsource the cutting? I’ve always wondered how these things are made.

-- Please visit my Etsy site, or You can also follow me on my artfire blog:

View Woodworker123's profile


89 posts in 3416 days

#7 posted 12-15-2011 12:23 AM

I don’t own a laser cutter. I found a local shop that is awesome to work with though. I would eventually like to own a laser cutter but they aren’t very cheap. The one I’m using I think runs around $20k.

Personally, if I had that kind of money to put into equipment, I think I’d buy a cnc router first since it can be used for furniture and joinery and will also do some of the stuff a laser cnc can do.

View ptkaster's profile


36 posts in 2681 days

#8 posted 10-13-2012 11:10 PM

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