The Real Wood iPod

This is a project I did back in July of 2005 that is still a popular topic among visitors to my website.


This project was featured on,,, and many others.

The following is a recreation of the original project log.

Wooden iPod -Dock


Ok this has been a fun side project for me.

I have had a 20GB 4th gen iPod since they came out, but I have never liked the white finish.

As part of Project Redwood I am also applying a wood finish to just about everything on my desk to have a matching set, and the iPod was not excluded.

To view a gallery of all these images click the link below:

Original Ipod


First off the original iPod.

Note the white click wheel that was made to replace the gray wheel.
The dock was painted black, as it will sit inside a wooden cover. (not yet made)

iPod taken apart


First the iPod was taken apart.
To do this; follow a guide on a battery replacement website. (Such as

iPod Shell


Once I had the shell seperated I could start to work on the new faceplate.

Wood Block


I did not want to simply apply a wood veneer, or a fake finish to the iPod. I wanted to use real wood. To do this I needed to carefully carve out a duplicate faceplate out of a raw piece of wood.

The wood I am using is African Padauk. It is a high quality hardwood that is very easy to work with, and naturaly red in color.

Curved edges


This entire project was done by hand using a Dremel rotary tool.
First the edges of the wood were curved using a router attachement.

Touch-wheel hole


Next, the wheel was traced out in the proper place and cut out.

LCD Cutout


Then the hole for the screen was measured and cut out.
I did this by first drilling holes to remove the bulk of the material.

Wood Faceplate


An exact duplicate. (well as exact as can be done by hand)

Inside of faceplate


By far the hardest part was carving out the back of the faceplate.
The final thickness was only 2mm thick.
During this process the wood split four times, and was glued back using gorilla glue.
The thick piece at the top of the wood is actualy just done drying in this photograph.

Lexan screen cover


Next a new screen has to be fabricated.
This was done using a piece of lexan plastic, and was hand cut by dremel to fit the hole in the wood.
It took two attempts to get a peice that fit well.

Gloss coating


In order to get the glossy finish that would approximate the finish on a normal ipod I coated the wood with three coats of Envirotex Lite.
The dust cover in this photo touched the coating while it was setting and that area was sanded off before the final coat.

Touch Wheel


A click wheel and select button were then cut out of African Padauk Veneer and given the same treatment. They are different in color as the veneer came from a different peice of wood.

Wooden iPod -Front


The iPod was the carefully fitted back together. It is still fully functional.
Hot-glue was used to hold the LCD and Click-wheel PCB onto the wood.

Wooden iPod-Closeup


The iPod fits together nearly as perfect as before.
A little hot-glue was used to fill any gaps.

Wooden iPod -Click wheel


I used a very thin and strong double-sided tape to hold the click wheel and select button in place.
Also a good air-less contact is nessicary to ensure that the touch-sensativity of the click wheel is preserved though the thicker coating on top.

Popular sightings:


National Radio:

NPR Radio: Going against the grain.

Contests: Winner, Great Mod Challange – September '05

Websites: Wood iPod Wooden iPod revealed

"Foreword by Geoff Richards: the mercurial magician of modding, ZapWizard aka Joshua Driggs, has created a modern masterpiece, dubbed the Wood iPod. In his words, he'll talk you through its construction."
"An anonymous reader submits "People have tried modding their iPods using wood before, but it took the genius of ZapWizard to create the Real Wood iPod. Hand carved from a solid piece of African hardwood to a thickness of just 2mm, the end result has to be seen to be believed. Wood grain is the new Apple White!" "
"Behold, the power of a steady hand and Dremel. And it does work—it’s a 4th generation model with clickwheel and everything. "

CNN Money
"NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Tired of everyone swooning over Apple's designs?
Well, ditch that polished, ultra-modern veneer and customize you're own iPod cover the "old-fashioned" way — out of wood.
That's what Joshua Driggs, also know as the ZapWizard, did."
"Wooden iPod. Case modders surrender
Farkers have clicked on the above link 28330 times "
"MAKE Flickr Photo poll member made an amazing Redwood version of the iPod by hand. It looks like he just took his iPod apart and carefully fabricated a redwood version of iPod frame, later adding a clear coat to it and reassembling it. I've seen wood iPod docks, but I think this is the best actual wood iPod to hit the scene so far."
'Others have tried modding their iPod using wood, but it has taken the genius of ZapWizard to create the first Real Wood iPod.
Hand carved from solid African hardwood to a thickness of just 2mm, the Real Wood iPod is a complete replica of the iPod's front facia – it isn't just a jacket or cover. "
"In one of the more impressive hacks we have ever seen performed upon an iPod, ZapWizard (a.k.a. Joshua Driggs) has effectively crafted an iPod from real, African hardwood. "
"Joshua Driggs has constructed a terrific replacement iPod faceplate out of African Padauk wood. He has posted several photos of the “wooden iPod” and explained the building process. "
"Apparently not happy with the traditional white faceplate on his 20 GB Fourth Generation iPod, Joshua Driggs decided to fashion his own faceplate out of real wood. Driggs accomplished this task by removing his iPod's faceplate, and then carving a new faceplate with identical dimensions out of African Padauk wood.
We're not sure, but we think this just might violate the warranty. "
"Check out this beautiful wooden iPod faceplate on ZapWizard's photostream. He has even gone through the trouble of taking off the original faceplate and modeling all of the prongs and attachment points. But about that Click Wheel"