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[How To] Making Your Own Car Mount (Video Added)

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By Chief Geek, Senior Member on 28th March 2012, 04:18 PM
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Home Made Kydex Car Mount
See second post for an updated version

A Chief Geek How-To
I’ve worked Kydex in the past for conceal holsters and large knife sheaths and thought it would be an ideal foundation to make a custom made vehicle mount for my phone. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the stuff, Kydex is a thermoplastic, which is a fancy way of saying you can heat it and it becomes extremely pliable. Think of it as being a wet noodle in consistency when heated to about 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically things this easy to mold have extensive drawbacks as being susceptible to heat and cold, but this is not the case with Kydex, in fact it’s quite the opposite in that is highly resilient, can be reheated to rework a botched job, and does not become brittle as it is very impact resistant. It is implemented extensively in the firearm industry and likewise in the blade industry. Keep these qualities in mind as you read through, who knows what you can make with the stuff. Oh and if the above isn’t enough, a few more great things about Kydex is that it comes in lots of colors, can be dyed, it’s plentiful, and best it’s CHEAP. There are lots of sources for it, but I typically just grab a sheet off eBay. A sheet of 12x12x0.093 black Kydex T will run you about $15 shipped to your door. I chose the thick stuff this time, but as it turns out it wasn’t needed. The thicker you go, the harder it is to get precise folds. Think of folding poster board versus folding cardboard. I already have a request in for quote for a few sheets of 12”X12”x0.06 which will be a bit easier to work as it is the same as the stuff I have used for other projects in the past.

My mount will be made for the Samsung Galaxy Note AT&T Version, however these instructions can be easily modified to make a mount for just about anything you want. The reason for doing this instead of just buying one is that I use the Seidio Active case and there is no case specifically made to hold my phone. I am not a big fan of the generic one size fits most as they tend to break after a year of use whether it was $10 or $30. ProClip makes amazing mounts, however they are quite expensive. My goal is to make something comparable to a Proclip, but at a fraction of the price.

Now, For A Few Words Of Caution

1.) Kydex is easy to work with, but easy to screw up if you aren’t careful. Pay attention and have a plan going into the project, especially if this is your first venture into molding plastics.
2.) Safety should be your number one concern. What’s it matter if you produce the best gadget holder known to man if you chopped a finger off or burned your house down in the process? I’m not exaggerating here, either of these can easily happen if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. Because it’s such a versatile product, your required tools can be as simple as a hacksaw and heat gun, or as complicated a variety of saws, presses, crimpers, rivet tools, and so on. But in any situation, you will be heating and cutting, both have great potential to teach stupid people lessons in caution. Everyone likes a good story about stupid people, but no one wants to be around or associated with that person. Heat guns stay very hot for awhile after they have been used. In the video I comment about laying my forearm across it. As I type this I am holding my right army up slightly because of the nice blister that formed last night. Be careful folks.
3.) Take things slow. Drawl out what you want then make a mock up out of poster board. Kydex is cheap only when you don’t go through 5 sheets trying to figure it out as you go and end up with a pile of scrap.

So let’s see if covered our bases. Be careful. Know what you’re doing. Don’t be “that guy”. Good, let’s get started here.

What You’ll Need:
A Mold Of Your Device I will be doing a Samsung Galaxy Note. This is a large phone, but very simple in design. It has no bumps or dips or serious curves, just rounded corners. If you want to leave it in a case, take this into consideration. I will be using mine in a Seidio Active case, so I will be sure to make a mold reflecting these measurements, not those of the actual phone or else it won’t fit. There are different ways of going about this. You can wrap your device in saran wrap (cellophane) then make a mold, then fill said mold with plaster. This is a lot of work, but tends to get a dead on mold. However, I passed on this as purposely introducing liquid to a $700 device is not something I wanted to do. Choose your battles, as they say. I have opted to carve out a wooden mold as the simple flat on all sides design of my phone will make this easy. A phone such as a droid or Razr would have me thinking of the plaster method. This is quite simple, take measurements, find a block of wood that is close, and cut down to a close replica, but it doesn’t have to be perfect nor pretty, just the right size. You will be working with hot plastic, so the block of wood may serve other uses as you go.
FoamFoam is used to “squash” the pliable heated kydex onto it’s mold. This does two things. First, it protects you from 300 degree sheet of plastic, and secondly, and just as importantly, it presses the plastic down tightly on all the dips and curves. This is especially important when making a firearm holster. This is where the retention aspect comes into play. My past holsters are snug enough that I can turn them upside down and jiggle while holding the holster and it will stay in place, yet a firm upward tug snaps it free. This can be applied for the retention of anything, even a phone. If your mold is the appropriate dimensions and you make a nice snug mold, your phone wont go flying out of it when you hit a bump and wont be rattling around going down the highway. Foam is typically used when making a “sandwhich” mold where you are taking the mold and wrapping it in hot Kydex then squashing it with foam to get a nice tight fit. I won’t be utilizing this method so you will not see future references to it, I just though it would be worth mentioning as it may be handy if you alter these instructions for your own use.

You want a good pair of heat resistant gloves. Use your noggin here. You want to keep from burning your hands, but still be able to manipulate the tools and plastic. A pair of welding gloves will likely to be overkill, but a thin set of knit gloves may not be adequate protection. I like using a pair of “Mechanix Wear” gloves. They are a tad thin, but if you don’t loiter you’ll be fine. Keep a clean rag handy for extra insulation when shaping the Kydex.

Typically, I like using the kitchen oven although this time with all the intricate and numerous folds, I will be using a heat gun. I am doing this project while my wife and kids go to her parents house for vacation for a week. She won’t even know what I’m up to. If you are a newlywed, or just haven’t traveled this road, be aware that wives do NOT like their husbands using their ovens and other kitchen assets as a shop tool. I learned this lesson when I baked enamel on a firearm for the first time. Since then I’ve learned my lesson…not to let her know when and what I’m doing.

You’ll be heating your Kydex to about 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to keep a watchful eye on your Kydex, too hot or too long and you will burn it. Obviously heat guns are hot, the nose end where the heat blows out gets very hot and stays very hot. While doing this project, you will be concerned with the Kydex, be aware when you lay your heat gun not to burn something or someone. A decent cheap heat gun can be picked up at Harbor Freight, Lowes, or Northern Tool for $20-$40. You must be careful with these. If you choose to use an oven, it is advised to have a heat gun anyways as it allows you to fine tune your holster.

Cutting Tools
You’ll want a variety of tools at your disposal here. I used a table saw to make my initial two cuts removing the flat I was going to be working with from the rest of the plastic. You can also score the plastic with a box cutter and snap it. As mentioned, I went too thick so if you use thinner Kydex then you will find cutting it easier then I did. See the video for a better idea of what all was used. If you have access to a jig saw, band saw, or scroll saw then use that as it will yield far superior results and leave you with a lot mess clean up with a Dremel later.

Speaking of prettying it up, you’ll want some files or a Dremel to clean up the edges afterwards. You can even use your Dremel to cut if you feel comfortable doing so and have the right bits. But you’ll need to clean up some of your edges after cutting if they are sharp or jagged, but don’t go crazy, you may find yourself doing some detailed cutting and trimming after the molding process so don’t cut too tight of tolerances right off the bat.

Workshop Partner
This is a buddy that can help you out. These are generally easy to find. They will be there to hand you needed tools, open doors and move stuff out of the way as your moving with your heated plastic. They also serve a roll as reminding you not to do something stupid inadvertently. A single 12”x12” sheet of Kydex is more than enough to do 2 small projects. If your buddy has the same phone, make him one for $10 and recoup some costs of materials or trade him for a 12 pack of your favorite brew.

Getting Started

Ok, let’s get started. Have your drawling ready and handy, just in case you need to reference it. Be sure that you have made a poster board mock up first. This will verify that your mold is right in comparison to your phone and when you unfold/untape your mock up back into flat form, it will then be a template for the cuts your about to do on your Kydex flat. You can now mark up your Kydex sheet with a carpenters pencil or other marking device in preparation for the cuts. On some projects you’ll want to leave excess material for fine tuning it later. Again, holsters are one of these as you will be test fitting. You can always trim a little more off, but can never put it back. For this project though, as it differs from the simple fold over and smush method used for holsters and sheaths, you won’t want much left over depending on your design as it may be difficult to make all the folds if there is too much in the way. You can always stop the folding, let it cool, make some trims, heat back up with heat gun and continue on. Always error on the side of safety folks, always always always.

Using your chosen cutting method, cut out your Kydex flat that will be made into the mount. This is a step that you must use upmost caution, lobbing a finger off here will get blood all over youre soon to be mount. Also, keep in mind that saw blades remove material as they cut so cut on the outside of the template or you’ll come up short which could cause your phone to drop out. Check your template against your cut Kydex to be sure everything looks good. Now is a good time to make sure all your cuts are straight and squared, this will make for a more professional looking end product. The mount at this point will be known as a flat before it is bent.

Now get your work area prepped for work. I use a large wooden cutting board for my work as I will be doing this inside on a desk because it offers easy access to electrical hook up and great lighting which is essential. Have everything ready to go. Make sure the area is clean and clear of any grit, dust, dirt, and debris. Hot Kydex will pick these up and will be embedded for good, we don’t want that.

Heating Things Up

Just like a real firearm, you must be sure of your target and what’s beyond it. Sounds silly right? Do you want to melt the finish on your dining room table, or possibly even ignite it those papers laying nearby? Better to be safe then explain to the wife on the phone why she hears sirens in the back ground.

You will begin by applying small amounts of heat at a time. Get a feel for the material and the amount of heat produced by your heat gun. You will see the Kydex go limp all of a sudden as it hits the right temperature and it won’t take long. Use smooth sweeping motions with the heat gun heating things evenly. Go slow at first and you will get a feel for how it all works and within 15 minutes you’ll have the hang of it. Once you get the correct angle, you will need to hold it there for atleast a minute to ensure it cools in the proper position. If, or actually when, you jack something up just stay calm. It’s an easy fix, just reheat and reshape. Detailed projects like this get reworked over and over to get them just right, sometimes days later I’ll reheat and tweak it just right. Do not trim anything unless you absolutely have to until you are done. Test fit with your mold as you go.

When you have your basic mount done, test fit your actual fit and see how it feels. At this point you will likely be reheating the sides to loosen it or tighten it up some to get just the right fix. Once satisfied it will be time to get the ol Dremel out and start smoothing out lines and making it look a little nicer. This is the point that I ensured the volume rocker and power button was easily accessible. Also figure out where you will be drilling your mounting holes. As mentioned in the video, I will be doing two sets of holes in order to give myself the option of horizontal and vertical options down the road.

Wrap Up

Now is the time where you look over your end result. Take notes on what you like and what you wish you would have done differently. Do you make your folds square and wish they were rounded? Did you remove too much somewhere? Do you perhaps want to incorporate a plug like I mentioned in the video? 1 12x12x.06 should cost you under $10 to your door. That’s ATLEAST two mounts, so play around and see what you come up with. Then when your happy with your end result, take what you learned and make a guide and/or video, post it up here, and make the community better.

Link To Video

Photos all photos from this buld will be dumped into:

Select one's will be shown below

Preparing To Drawl Up The Cuts

Take Your Time And Be Sure Your Measurements Are Double Checked

Primary Cuts Made With Saw

I Heat The Flat In Toaster Oven To Make Cuts Easier And Smoother

Time To Start Heating And Folding!

Choose a Good Pair Of Gloves. Carpenters Pencil Is Great For Assisting With Tight Angles

Almost Done- Stay Tuned For Future Updates

Two Videos Are Awaiting Upload To Youtube And Will Be Made Available Tonight.
I Plan To Update This Thread As My Build Progresses. I Have Been Using Kydex For Years, But Never For Anything This Detailed, It's A Learning Experience For Me Too!

Don't Forget To Use The "Thanks" Button If This Has Helped You And Rate The Thread So It Gets Stickied! Feel Free To Ask Questions And Make SUggestions.
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28th March 2012, 04:18 PM |#2  
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Mount 2.0 W/ ChiefClip
Holster 2.0 Now With ChiefClip

Part I – Required Supplies
Part II – Making The Holster
Part III – The Swivel
Part IV – The Vehicle Specific Bracket
Part V – Final Assembly

Part I
Required Supplies

Cutting Utensils – Boxcutter is primary tool for thin stuff
Dremel – Used to clean up edges and smooth out lines
Marker/Pencil – Carpenters Pencil works perfectly
Small T Square or ruler (or something to make nice straight edges)

6” X 12” X 0.060" Kydex
Swivel Mount
Quality Permanent Double Sided Tape (recommend 3M, but swivel mount I listed comes with enough to do the job)

Part II
Making The Holster

I finally got my second batch of sheets of Kydex in after what seemed like forever. The second eBay vendor was far slower than the first, but he was a friendly honest guy who apologized for the delays. I wouldn’t hesitate to use him again, but wouldn’t expect things to be as fast as the other vender, who did not carry the thinner Kydex at the time of the project. This thinner Kydex is far easier to work with, so I highly recommend 0.060 thickness of Kydex. The cutting was easier as I was able to heat it slightly with the heatgun then run a box cutter blade right through it, or you can score it with the box cutter then bend it and it breaks right apart. Way easier than using a saw and snips making lots of ugly cuts that needed to be fixed later. Creating the mount was done along the same lines above. I used the same template and everything. The main differences is that I rounded the sides that wrap around to hold the phone rather than trying to make the squared right angles. This makes for a nicer appearance and is far easier to make and adjust. These steps are very similiar to the previous post, so I’m going to use those photos to get us started, only difference at this point is the thickness of the plastic we’re working with.

1. Cut Kydex to dimensions needed for your design. My design called for measurements of (TBA). This can be done by either scoring with a razor/box cutter, or you can heat the area with your heat gun and use your box cutter to cut clean through the material. It’s up to you, both methods yield the same result.

2. Remove cut outs to allow your folds to be made.

3. Using your heat gun, heat the edges and big your folds. This will likely take a few attempts so don’t get frustrated. I’m estimating that I did each of the folds atleast 2-4 times to get them just right. I ended up using a medium size ratchet handle to get the nice curved edges. Keep in mind the plastic is very hot, so wear gloves and have a rag handy for holding down these bends for a minute or so while they cool.

4. Test fit the bends and adjust as you go. You will get the feel for the heat gun and learn how much heat is needed to make minor adjustments and when you need to heat the SOB all the way and make it flat to start from scratch again.

5. Use your Dremel to clean up all the edges of your straight line and round the top and make it look a little more refined and finished.

6. Once your happy with the fit and function of your holster, set it aside. You can always make adjustments to it later also if you’re not sure about something you want to do like trying to flatten out a side or what not.

Note: On this holster I plan to secure a 90 degree micro USB cable in to make for a “Dock” so I have one less cable to fiddle with. I’ll have more on this later once I pick up some epoxy and do a few trial and errors.

Total Time: 15-60 Minutes Depending On Luck/Skill/And Pickiness

Part III
Swivel Mount
I ordered my swivel mounts from ebay with a hope I could manage to do something with them. As it turns out, they were exactly what I needed and at $6 w/ free shipping you can't beat it. These are adjustable by turning a nut between the two pieces which is a common design on many GPS mounts, which is what this was intended for. This mount will allow you to rotate the mount to landscape or portrait mode. It will also allow you to tilt it towards you.

As you can see in the above photo, it does have a raised clip of some sorts on it. This is easily removed in a variety of ways. I chose to heat it up a little with the heat gun and lob it right off.

I then grabbed the Dremel and used it to grind down the remaining stump and the raised lines down and roughen up the surface overall giving the double sided tape a better surface to adhere to.

The swivel came with double sided tape on one side (side without nub) and a second piece that was unused, along with some odds and ends that you wont need. I left the applied piece where it was and only used my trusty 3M tape on the ground down side. So far it’s been in my truck for a week and it’s been fine so you can probably get away with using the included tape. If it fails, just scrape off and replace with 3M, but I doubt you’ll have issues with it.

Now set this aside and move onto the 3rd piece of this three piece mount.
Total Time: Approx 5-10 Minutes

Part IV
Vehicle Specific Mount, AKA ChiefClip
I like how ProClip approached the mounting solutions by making highly customized mounting options without a bunch of crazy drilling. I just did not have the $100 for the complete mount. I am sure they are worth every penny, but you have to have those spare pennies to find out. I don’t consider this a knock-off as the only thing I really copy is putting plastic between the molding cracks. They contour their brackets and use a slightly different approach then what I took by utilizing screws and such for mating the parts.

I did everything on the cheap for this project because the point of it all was that I wanted a quality rock solid mount without paying out the rear for a proclip and one that would fit my phone in my preferred case without using a “one size fits all” generic that, in my experience, failes after 6-12 months. A side effect of using this Kydex is that it's re-moldable, so if you get a different phone down the road, there's a good chance you can reheat and reform this to fit your next phone so long as it’s the similar or smaller dimensions.

Making this mount was surprisingly easy, it just took lots of test fitting and minor adjustments to get it just right. Watching ProClips installation video gives you an idea how it works and it’s quite simple. It simply slips into the gaps in the dash molding. This 0.06 Kydex proved to be the perfect thickness to provide a tight, but workable fit. Follow these easy steps for a similar fitting.

1. Test thickness of Kydex with your gaps using a scrap piece you cut out earlier when you made the holster part. If its somewhat difficult to get into the cracks, but once in doesn't cause any ill effects to your dash but stays put rather well, then you're good to continue. I am using the thinnest available. If this is still too thick, consider that you can still use your Dremel to thin it out some. If you go this route, do so very slowly as Dremels tend to remove plastic pretty quickly if you’re not cautious. Even at proper thicknesses it can be difficult to get into the gaps, gently using something to spread this gap will help, I imaging if you had a plastic screwdriver ( to avoid damaging anything) would work well.

2. Measure gap between two panels. See ProClips site for ideas of where to place it for your situation, but I recommend holding your phone there and thinking about this first. Is it viewable? Reachable? Does it block anything you may need such as vents or buttons? Can your turn your wheel without hitting it? Does it obstruct view to anything such as gauges or clocks? Using a ProClip location helps you get an idea what already works for others.

3. Cut a flat strip of Kydex to span this cap, plus and inch or so extra to insert into gaps, more if it'll fit. I cut extra that I knew wouldn’t fit then trimmed it later once I got a solid idea where exactly it was going elevation wise and how deep I could go.

4. Heat and bend one side, rough side out (towards you not dash, this is important)

5. Test fit it in car. Mark approximate location of next bend.

6. Bend second fold. If you’re lucky it'll go right in with a little persuasion. I had to heat and adjust a couple times.

7. Test to make sure it’s nice and snug and not going anywhere. I am covering one of the vents for my design, but in the summer I have the windows down and winter prefer the heat on my feet, so this won’t likely bother me much.

8. Ensure rough side of Kydex is indeed out (will explain later)

Total time, 20-30 minutes.

Part V.
Final Assembly

1. With the ChiefClip in place, peel the backing top from swivel and press onto it. The reason for the textured side out is to give a great surface to adhere to. Press long and hard to make sure it’s nice and secure.

2. Peel the second strip off and press your holster onto it. Again press long and hard. Now is not the time to be in a hurry and have your phone drop to the floor later.

3. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes for the tapes glue to “cure” and get a nice solid bond to all the parts before test driving it.


Swivel Bracket:

90 Degree angled cable
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28th March 2012, 04:32 PM |#3  
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Very nice, thanks for posting. This looks like a fun DIY to take on.
29th March 2012, 12:36 PM |#4  
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Video added.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I717 using Tapatalk
11th April 2012, 06:34 PM |#5  
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New material added for the 2.0 version.
-Thinner, easier to work plastic
-Complete 3 piece set up (holster, swivel, mount)
-More pics

Feedback is appreciated.
13th April 2012, 04:02 AM |#6  
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That's one way to do it. :thumbsup:

Consider making the USB hidden and in the mount so it goes in the port when you dock the phone? That's pretty much the only thing I'd change.

BTW what was the total price for the three pieces? IYDMMA
13th April 2012, 04:17 AM |#7  
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Originally Posted by BlkSquad

That's one way to do it. :thumbsup:

Consider making the USB hidden and in the mount so it goes in the port when you dock the phone? That's pretty much the only thing I'd change.

BTW what was the total price for the three pieces? IYDMMA

Already working on that:
Originally Posted by Chief Geek

Note: On this holster I plan to secure a 90 degree micro USB cable in to make for a “Dock” so I have one less cable to fiddle with. I’ll have more on this later once I pick up some epoxy and do a few trial and errors.

I have the cable on hand, but salvaged the "dock" guts from my SGS Vibrant desk dock. Havnt decided which to use. the 90 degree is one hell of a snug cable and may be difficult to get phone to drop right onto it.

Total Price is almost nothing if you have tools.
$10 Kydex
$6 swivel

You have enough kydex in that $10 piece to make two holsters and clips. Very cheap project.
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