The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise.
Wireless chargers are amazing — they free you from fiddling with a mess of cables every time you want to charge up your phone. Unfortunately, they don’t look particularly attractive on your tabletop. To fix this issue, we’re going to show you how to build an industrial-style end table with wireless charging built directly into the wood — a solution that’s both functional and good-looking.
To make the process a bit easier, we also built the base of this table with 3/4-inch steel plumbing pipe. This gives the finished product a cool industrial aesthetic while minimizing the amount of cutting, gluing, and fastening you’ll need to do. If done right, you don’t even need to cut the wood yourself. You can simply have the crew at your local home center cut everything for you. After that, all you’ll need is a router and a few clamps to bring everything together.
Note: this table will only charge phones compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard. If you’re not sure if your device has this functionality, check here.
Tools & Materials
- Anker Qi wireless charger
- Plunge router
- Wood board, 7″x 24″ (3x)
- Wood board, roughly 5″ x 18″ (2x)
- Wood glue
- Hot glue (or super glue)
- Clamps, at least 2.5 feet long
- 5/8″ wood screws
- 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 10-inch length (8x)
- 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 6-inch length (4x)
- 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 2-inch length (4x)
- 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, close (4x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, 45-degree elbow (8x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, T-junction (4x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, floor flange (4x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, union (2x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, end cap (4x)
- 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, cross (2x)
Step 1: Disassemble the wireless charging pad. Your goal is to remove the inductive charging coil that lives inside the plastic housing. If you’re using the Anker charger we used in the video (and linked to in the list above) all you need to do is remove the rubber feet from the underside of the pad and use a small Philips screwdriver to remove the eight screws holding the base to the top shell. Remove these and you should have easy access to the charging coil inside. Make sure to note which side is the top and which is the bottom.
Step 2: Grab your newly-liberated charging coil, attach a power cable to it, and place the entire assembly on the underside of one of your 7-inch boards. Trace the outline with a pencil. You don’t have to trace the entire cord, but do make sure you trace a couple inches of it. You’ll need some wiggle room to attach/remove the power cord, so make sure to take that into account.
Step 3: Use your router to mill out the area you just traced. Before you get started, make sure that you’re using a bit that can make plunge cuts and a router with adjustable depth settings. You want to mill out the area you just traced, but leave somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch of wood on the bottom. Also, don’t just plunge down the full depth right away. The best method is to start shallow and gradually make your way down. Once you’ve reached the depth you’re after, stick the charging coil in the hole and test to make sure it works. Qi chargers aren’t designed to work over long distances, so you’ll need to get the wood fairly thin — but not so thin that the tabletop could easily be damaged by, say, setting a coffee mug down too hard. The goal is to make it just thin enough for the charger to work through the wood, and not a hair thinner.
Step 4: Once you’re done milling, bust out your glue and clamps. The next step is to glue all your boards together and complete the topside of your table. Before you get started, make sure you have your boards arranged in a pleasing manner, such that the grain lines up to your liking. Apply a thin coat of glue to the long edges of your middle board (the one with the pocket cut in it) and clamp all three boards together. You’ll also want to clamp them down from the top with a long, flat piece of wood, to ensure that the tabletop you’re making is perfectly flat.
Step 5: Grab your charging coil and some hot glue — it’s time to glue the inductive charging coil into the pocket you cut. We used hot glue for our table because it can be peeled off fairly easily if we ever want to make modifications to the table in the future, but you don’t have a hot glue gun handy, super glue will do the trick. Just remember to double-check that your coil is facing the right direction before you start gluing — it won’t work if it’s upside down!
Step 6: While you’re waiting for the glue to dry, go ahead and piece together your plumbing pipe base. Refer to the diagram below for assembly instructions. During the build, make sure that all pieces are tightened together as much as possible. This will likely require some muscle, but there’s a trick you can use to cheat a bit. Instead of wrenching on the pipes by themselves, you can get extra leverage by partially screwing a longer length of pipe into the piece you’re trying to twist on, and use it to get extra torquing power. A pair of grippy, rubber-palm gloves is also highly recommended.
Step 7: Head back to your tabletop. Once the wood glue has set (it takes about an hour), pull off the clamps and get to sanding. Take off all the rough edges and remove any leftover glue that might’ve squirted out from the cracks during clamping. If you plan on applying finish to the tabletop, now is a good time to do it. We gave our Peruvian walnut boards a couple coats of Tung oil to bring out their color a bit.
Step 8: With your tabletop complete and your plumbing pipe base assembled, the next step is to attach the two with some screws. To do this, first make sure that your flanges are tightened down as much as possible, and that your base is as straight as you can get it. Flip your tabletop upside down and place the pipe base on top of it, flange-side down. Use a pencil to mark the screw holes, then remove the base and drill pilot hoes for each (note: this is only necessary if you’re using a hard wood). Finally, place your pipe base back on top, and fasten it down with some screws.
Step 9: The final major step (which we didn’t include in the video) is to cut, finish, and attach the bottom slats. The correct width for these will vary depending on how tightly you screw the connector pipes together on the bottom, so once you’re done with step 8, take some measurements and cut your bottom boards to the exact size you need. Ours were about 5 by 18 inches, but yours will likely be slightly different.
Step 10: Plug the charger into the nearest wall, plop your phone down onto the sweet spot, and watch as the battery magically fills up!