iPhone Charging Dock

A year or so ago I built a pretty crude charging dock for my phone. It was meant to be kept in my shop to prevent me from dropping my phone all over the place. Because it was more like a piece of equipment or shop furniture it didn’t have to be pretty. 

Ever since building the first one I’ve wanted to build another. I have this vision of charging docks and stations strategically placed throughout my house. Recently I built these charging stations to act as a central hub for the main living floor in my home.  One holds and charges our 4 phones. The other holds and charges our iPads. 


Here’s a video I made showing how I built these charging stations. 

I also had to do an update video for the charging station because my original plan didn’t work as I thought it would. 

After building the charging stations I decided to build a bunch of single device charging docks. While I was at it I built some to include in my shop for sale. This batch is made from walnut. I used Apple’s lightning cable which means these docks are compatible with iPhones 5, 5S, 5C, 6 and 6 Plus. These docks were much simpler to make than the multi device stations but essentially the idea is the same. For this reason I didn’t produce a video for these docks. 


The phone pictured in the above photos is an iPhone 6 to give you an idea of the scale. If you’d like to purchase one of these charging docks, head over to the Shop section of my site to place an order. 

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Make It Forward Project

A few weeks ago I became involved in the Make It Forward Project.  Essentially, six of us on Twitter decided to build a project together.  The first person builds something and sends it to the next.  That person adds to it and sends it to the next and so on.  When the project is completed we plan to auction it off and donate the proceeds to charity. There is no set thing being built from the beginning so we each have freedom to do what we wish with the portion of the project that we receive.  This is what I did with my portion.

You can follow along with the project on Twitter @makeitforward.  The six participants for this round are:

Mark Dolan: @markspens

Brian McCauley: @mccauleysdesign

Sean Rubino: @seanrubino

Jimmy DiResta: @jimmydiresta

Improbably Construct: @imprblconstruct

Kip Vanover: @ironface077

Be sure to follow all of them for great builds on Twitter.

I was the second person in line for this project.  Mark was kind enough to send me two checker board pieces.  One was 16″ square and the other was 12″ square.


My first thought was to use the large board for the top of a case and the small board for the bottom of the case.  This would require a compound mitered case, sort of like making crown moulding.  I also planned on incorporating a drawer.  After seeing the case I built my loving wife told me it was crap and that I needed to come up with something else.  So, it was back to the drawing board.

My second idea was similar except that the case would not be angled and have half blind dovetail construction.  I’d use the large board as the top and the smaller board as the bottom of the drawer.  This is what I ultimately decided on however it wasn’t without it’s issues either.  I originally built the case and drawer from Maple.  Unfortunately when cutting the dovetails I make a mistake and the case was not salvageable.  The drawer was just fine though.  At this point I had run out of Maple so I decided to make the case again but this time I used walnut.  I think in the long run this looks much better.

Here are some photos of the final piece.  At least as far as my portion goes.

Choosing Lumber for your Furniture Piece

Often times it seems the most difficult part of helping design a piece of furniture for a client is choosing a lumber type. Your average Joe off the street doesn’t know the difference between Oak and Walnut and honestly probably doesn’t care. They just know how they want their piece to look when it’s finished.

I always advocate for choosing lumber that is the color you want the finished project to be. So if you want a dark color I suggest walnut.

If you’re looking for something with more red tones I suggest Cherry or Mahogany.

If you want a lighter color Oak or Maple is a good choice.

I always suggest choosing a lumber that is the color you want because adding color to lumber isn’t very precise and it’s difficult to always get exactly what you want from it. The bottom line is that you can’t stain a piece of Oak with dark walnut stain and make it look like Walnut. It just doesn’t work that way.

Additionally, it’s my opinion that staining a piece of wood really reduces its natural beauty. Here is a photo of an oak table top and then the same table top after it has been stained. Personally I prefer the natural look of the oak over the stained look.

Natural Oak
Stained Oak
I certainly don’t mind staining lumber for my clients. The results are always just disappointing to me.  For example, Here is that same stained Oak table compared to a naturally finished Walnut table.

Oak stained with Dark Walnut
Naturally Finished Walnut
To me there really is no comparison. The naturally finished walnut wins every time.

So why would someone want to stain a piece of wood instead of just buy the wood that is the appropriate color?  Price. It’s that simple. Maple and Oak are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of lumber. In my area walnut costs about 3 times as much as oak.

When clients realize the price differences between different types of lumber we start talking about staining.   Staining is fine and in most situations your average person doesn’t care if their table is real Walnut or some other lumber type that was stained to kind of look like Walnut. The most important thing to realize when choosing to stain lumber over initially going with lumber that is already the color you want is to know that Oak is Oak, Maple is Maple and you cannot make them look like anything other than Oak or Maple by adding color to them. Unless of course you paint them!
Thanks for reading!  I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Safety Day 2015

This post contains an image which depicts a woodworking injury. 

In the spirit of posting something safety related on this day, May 15, 2015 dubbed safety day I’d like to share a close call I had in my shop last summer. 

I was learning to use my lathe. I had turned a spindle or two as well as a Harry Potter wand for my son.  Naturally I figured I’d try turning a bowl. The result left me with a bloody forehead.  


This happened because I wasn’t using my lathe safely. I wasn’t supporting the bowl with the tail stock and my tools weren’t sharp. Mostly because I didn’t have a grinder to sharpen them with. Additionally I wasn’t wearing a face mask. Also leading to the injury, I hadn’t properly formed the mortise in the bottom of the bowl for my chuck grab. 

Long story short, my gouge caught the work and it flew off the lathe and hit me in the forehead. You can see in the photo where the bowl was ripped out of the chuck and the catch that caused it. 


It was nearly a year before I touched my lathe again. I regained my confidence after making some carbide lathe tools. After the accident, I still wanted to learn to turn but I needed better quality tools than my harbor freight chisels and something that was easily sharpened. I didn’t want to purchase carbide tools so I made my own. Here is a video I made of the process. My first YouTube video. Check it out if you’re interested in doing the same. 

Since making the tools I’ve learned proper safety technique and how to safely use my lathe. As a result I’ve turned a few more bowls. These ones didn’t leave me with a bloody forehead!


The moral of this story?  Be safe in your shop, know what you’re doing when you use a new tool. Most importantly, don’t let an accident stop you from getting back into your shop!

Thanks for reading!

I Started a Blog

So, I’ve decided to start a blog, which is a little foreign to me to be honest.  I’ve never really gotten the idea behind a blog.  I know it’s 2015.  I guess I’m just getting old.  But now that I’m producing some videos on YouTube and people are actually watching them and commenting on them I thought it might be a good idea to write an article or provide additional information about the videos and projects I make.  So, a blog it is.

I guess this first entry will be a quick and simple introduction.  I’m Brian McCauley of McCauley’s Design.  I build furniture.  Most of what I build are dining room tables.  That seems to be what the vast majority of my commissions are however I’ve built furniture for just about every room in a house.

I’ve been woodworking for just about 5 years now.  I’ve set up a shop in my basement, much to my wife’s chagrin.  It’s small but I get by with the room that I have.  Someday I’d love to build a dedicated shop.  Unfortunately that is difficult living in a townhouse.

I did a quick video introducing myself a little while ago so I thought it might be appropriate here.

If you’d like to keep up with me you can follow me on Twitter @mccauleysdesign or on Facebook at Facebook.com/mccauleysdesign.

Thanks for stopping by!