Double decker wifi phone and dumb phone case

Build your own case for a dumb phone and wifi phone from aluminum and leather

This is my poor mans smart phone, with a handmade double decker case. It requires two devices. One for driving, and one for indoor wifi reception. I had smartphones for 4 years, but got bored with them, and never used the data I was forced to buy. But...I do need some kind of a phone. This flip phone costs eight dollars a month for eighty minutes, prepaid, no contract. When I need to make longer calls, I use the iPod Touch as a wifi phone, which has unlimited minutes, data and texting, for free. It uses Google Voice running under Talkatone Update: I recently retired that old flip phone and bought a $30 Alcatel candy bar phone. The old flip phone pictured was not reliable.

I cut the 1/16 inch aluminum just large enough to have room for the screws around the edge: 74mm x 134mm. I made the smaller piece shorter so I could get my fingers on the iPod Touch to pull it out. The Touch has a plastic case on it. It is brand new as of 12-2013. The belt clip is from a Bianchi gun holster...plastic belt clips are unreliable. I punched the holes in the full grain cowhide with a rotary leather punch from Tandy. To get the holes in the leather to line up with the drilled aluminum holes, I punched the leather first, taped it onto the aluminum with Gorilla tape, the stuck a Sharpie pen down each hole, drawing a little circle.

I bought 24 gauge Gold beading wire from Michaels for the sewing. It acts as needle and thread combined, and looks super cool when it's done. I get double stitching by going forwards and backwards. I tie the knots by triple stitching one hole. I leave a long end out, and stitch over it as an added lock. If there is a small loose end of 'thread', I tuck it down a hole. I pull it tight with pliers.

Here I am working my way forward around the plate. When I reach the start, I turn around and go backwards.

This stitching is very durable. I've had it last over 4 years.

I used to just roll the foam over the top edge, so the smartphone glass wouldn't get scratched as it was slid into the case. However, that led to wear through of the foam over a couple years. Now I sew this leather wear pad onto the top.

I punch holes in both the top of the phone case, and the leather wear pad (not shown). Then I sew the leather wear pad to the belt side of the phone case. I fold it over and stick it down to the phone case with double sided sticky tape.

Here you can see the leather wear patch sewn on and folded over the top. The foam cushion has been stuck onto the aluminum.

The first deck screwed into place for a test run. I love the screws, it allows me to carefully tension the case to hold the iPod Touch snugly, but not so tight I can't pull it out when I get a (wifi) phone call.

I modeled the dumb phone case with cardboard, guessing roughly at the correct size. Then I cut it out of full grain cowhide from Tandy Leather. I soaked the leather in water, cut a jig out of wood in the approximate shape of the dumbphone. I screwed the leather to the phone case, and jammed the wood jig into the leather. I let the jig sit overnight to stretch out the leather. I'm not sure why I have it off here, but I pinned it down so it wouldn't lose it's shape.


You can see how precisely the leather forms to the dumbphone. When I had to give up on this seven year old flip phone, I upgraded to a $30 Alcatel dumb phone. It was one quarter inch wider, but the leather easily stretched to accommodate the bigger phone. Add water and leather can do amazing things.

Stretching out the leather with a wood jig and some metal from Home depot. That brass pipe on the first 4-40 Stainless Steel screw is from a hobby shop.

I love the contrast between the leather and steel here. That poor old cow has been turned into burgers, shoes and steaks, but his skin will live on in my phone case for a while.

Perhaps I should have sewn the foam into a sleeve...but this is so easy to work on , I figure I will just take it apart if the foam wears out.

Finished case. I took that Touch strap off after the first couple weeks.

It's big and bulky...but when you consider that it is an $8 a month smartphone, I'm not complaining. Anywhere there is wifi, I leave the dumb phone and case in the car and carry the Touch in my pocket. It's thinner than an iPhone, and has all the functionality, not counting GPS. I have a dash mounted Garmin for that.

One thing bad about Talkatone is that the Touch is always on speaker-phone. To fix that problem I bought the Apple ear buds that come with a throat microphone. Totally awesome! You might even be able to get a blue-tooth headset to work...I've not tried.


Problem: I drained a car battery charging several smartphones overnight.
Solution: This is a Motorcycle battery I used several years ago to power my 12 volt ham radio. I bought a cigarette light replacement kit at Shucks and wired it into a re-purposed pill bottle. I'm using plug and play Powerpole connectors. I have the battery wired to power two devices at once. In case you can't tell from the photo, I have a cigarette lighter adapter plugged into the pill bottle. I suppose this thing could light a cigarette too. Bound to be a crowd pleaser around the campfire. "Here dude, let me light that for you!"