Portable radio station gets a beautiful case

[Martin] put together a simple portable radio unit to take some MP3s with him while he’s out and around. The build was simple; just a no-name Chinese MP3 player, a battery, and an FM radio transmitter. To give his project a little more pizzazz, he came up with a very handsome laser cut wooden case to turn what would be a bunch of wires and components into an attractive build.

[Martin]‘s case makes wonderful use of the kerf bending technique. By cutting small staggered lines in a piece of plywood, [Martin] was able to bend his laser cut enclosure into a surprisingly tight radius. With the help of a pair of laser cut forms and a bit of hot water and glue, he was able to make the shape of his case permanent.

The top and bottom of his case are also laser cut plywood, but [Martin] included a translucent plexiglas logo on the top. When his radio unit is activated a LED inside his project box lights up, illuminating his personal logo.

Kerf bending is something we’ve seen before, and we’re looking forward to seeing more project boxes use it in the future, hopefully with the application of a veneer to cover the diamond-shaped holes.


  1. daid303 says:

    I really like the design of the UltiController, which is also made with bendable wood:


    The cuts of this FM radio transmitter are a bit far apart, and it shows. You can really see that there is a lot of stress on the cuts.

  2. Eric says:

    I swear I remember seeing something with a similar kerf bent case on this site, before. More similar to this than the one linked in this article.

    Btw, that case makes me think it would be pretty badass for a Mac Mini. Those holes seem like they’d allow for some pretty decent airflow.

    Now that I think of it, it might just have been an itx mobo in a similar box that I’m remembering.

  3. echodelta says:

    I can’t imagine this holds up well unless impregnated with glue or resin. Other than inlay work, lasers are overblown in the woodshop. The tabs in joints look ugly. Crenelated edges are for the inside of things. Can a laser make a blind cut, that is most of the way thru but not out the other surface. That is how to get non splintering bends, Art Deco curves etc. If the wood is thin enough steam will soften the wood. Shaker boxes for example. The bend in a grand piano case, now that’s bending art. Softened layers are built up in a jig then it clamps together.

    • signal7 says:

      I have to agree. A table saw works much better for creating smooth bends because it can easily make blind cuts. Even more interesting is that if you have the money for a laser cutter, a decent quality table saw is incredibly cheap!

      • martz1 says:

        great idea! you are able to manipulate the focus and the speed of the laser so it should be possible to make blind cuts. it’s like a very deep engraving.
        I’m working on more complex, graphical patterns for the bend that would probably require some sort of digital fabrication.

        I’m just lucky having access to a laser being a student.

  4. martz1 says:

    @daid303: You seem to be right, the cuts could be a litte closer to each other. I’ll give it a few more tries.

    I was originally inspired by this post (was featured here as well) Building a raspberry pi enclosure

  5. martz1 says:

    @daid303: you seem to be right, the cuts should be closer together. I’ll give it a few more tries.

    The post that originally inspired me was this one:
    Building a raspberry pi enclosure (was featured on hackaday as well)

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