In 2023, Apple introduced a feature to their MagSafe-compatible iPhones, called Standby. This feature lets you use the widgets from your apps when your phone is:
- Magnetically attached to a MagSafe charger or plugged in with a charging cable
- The phone is positioned upwards and in the horizontal position
- The device’s Lock Screen is on
- On my nightstand I display a digital clock alongside either the weather widget, a charging widget, or my calendar (via Fantastical).
- While I'm working I typically leave my phone on the World Clock, showing points that represent the timezones of some of the international teammates I work with.
- In both places, I’ll turn on the Now Playing screen for audio books and podcasts that I listen to (usually air playing to speakers or AirPods Pros).
I really love how simple this feature is to use and now I want to put MagSafe stands all around my house. After upgrading my nightstand MagSafe stand to the HiRise 3 Deluxe, I gave the Forté I was previously using to my wife, which—replacing her MagSafe charger—left us with an extra MagSafe puck to spare.
Finding a Use Case
My first thought was to pick up another Forté and find a place to put it in the kitchen, but then—as part of a customer journey—marketing for a different brand had another idea in mind.
I got a marketing email by a company I bought iPhone stands and AirTag cases from, Elevation Lab, for a new product that lets you pin an AirTag to your kids or a piece of luggage. While I'm not in the market for that, it got me to visit their website and check it out. While I was there, I came across something they call, MagBase.
MagBase is essentially a little silicon holder for a MagSafe puck that is meant to live on your desk or another flat surface. It’s designed so you can pick up your phone by sliding it off the magnet, but just as easily, you can pick up both your phone and your MagSafe puck to do things like check your email or respond to messages.
I like that the MagBase is very minimal, and even though it’s designed to sit on a flat surface it gave me an idea on how I can solve a very minor problem, while also giving me another place to use Standby.
A few years ago I put together this little couch-side shelf, and above that I mounted a shelf for more vertical space. Last year, I unmounted the shelf for a few minutes to add a headphone hook to it. I use this shelf while watching TV or playing video games and I usually place things like my iPad and AirPods Pro case on it.
As far as my phone goes, I usually put that on the arm of the couch because I had no other particular place to put it. This extra MagSafe puck helped me find a new place for it, and it looked cool to boot.
The headphone hook sits in the middle of the shelf, so when sitting on the couch there is some room on the wall to the left and to the right of the headphones. The space to the right seemed like a really good place to put a MagSafe puck. Before ordering a MagBase I thought that maybe I would 3D print my own MagSafe mount. After taking a look at some of the 3D printing model sites I found that the idea of mounting a MagSafe puck on the wall wasn't a new idea, and there were several free, really nice models to choose from.
One thing the MagBase had going for it, though, was that it also comes with a USB-C extender. This would be important because the 1-meter distance from the nearest outlet to the place I wanted to mount the MagSafe puck was too short. That got me to go for the MagBase, so I placed an order and it showed up a couple of days later.
I thought for a little bit about how I would run the MagSafe cable around the shelf. I didn't want to drape the cable over the shelf, but if I added a little gap between the shelf and the wall I could run the cable behind the shelf. This wasn’t really my favorite option, so I unmounted the shelf and brought it down to the workshop to see if I could come up with something else.
Channeling a Solution
I took a look at where the shelf mounting hardware fits into the shelf and noticed that the area I routed out for the mounting hardware gave me about 5mm to work with. With the cable plugged into the wall on the left side, I could have ran the cable from the left mount to the right, leaving the cable just under the shelf.
Maybe it was where I was standing, but something else came to mind. Did you know that the width of the kerf on a table saw blade is exactly the same thickness as a MagSafe cable? At least this is true for the blade that came with my DeWalt table saw.
I moved the table saw fence close enough that the blade lined up with the routed area for the mounting hardware. I raised the blade to just about 3-4mm, picked up one side of the shelf, and did a plunge cut from one side of the mounting hardware slot to the other.
I did a quick test of the cable to find that it was a perfect fit!
I realized I had to create an exit point for the cable on both sides, so I grabbed a chisel and diagonally cut out a notch for the cable on both sides.
While doing a dry run with the cable, I also realized that I would need to let some of the cable sit within the routed out area that the bottom of the mounting hardware sits. The problem with this is that a lot of the stability for the shelf is based around clamping down on that area and I didn't want to crush the MagSafe cable to get this to work.
I found a washer big enough to fill up that area and found that if I stack up two washers it was just about as high as the MagSafe cable. I used some hot glue to attach the washers tougher, then onto the shelf. I didn’t really need to do this but this would make it so that when I'm mounting the shelf the washers wouldn’t move around and fall out of place.
After another quick test I was all set with routing the cable from one end of the shelf to the other.
The final step was to re-mount the shelf and then attach the MagBase to the wall. I took one more pass at running the cable through the channel I just made. I made it as flush as I could and made sure the MagSafe puck was the right distance from the shelf to where I wanted to put it.
This is a DIY situation I really like being in. This is the 4th time I’ve iterated on this shelf area and each time it becomes more useful for my needs. I also like that everything in this project is reversible. As with all technology, a new things comes along every few years and sometimes things just break. If I decide I no longer want the MagSafe puck in this spot, I can unmount it and remove it from the shelf, leaving only the channel and the notch cut out, but hidden in the back of the shelf. Removing the washers should be pretty easy, too.
As I was going through these pictures on my laptop, I placed my phone up on the wall, put on a podcast, and got to enjoy this new setup right away.