DIY: Turn an old lamp into a flexible phone stand

Get the DIY version of the "Une Bobine" Kickstarter project, and make your own flexible phone stand from an old gooseneck lamp.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content, CNET Studios
As the Vice President of CNET Studios, Sharon leads the video, social, editorial design, and branded content teams. Before this role, Sharon led content development and launched new verticals for CNET, including Wellness, Money, and How To. A tech expert herself, she's reviewed and covered countless products, hosted hundreds of videos, and appeared on shows like Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and the Today Show. An industry expert, Sharon is a recurring Best of Beauty Awards judge for Allure. Sharon is an avid chef and hosts the cooking segment 'Farm to Fork' on PBS nationwide. She's developed and published hundreds of recipes.
  • Webby Award ("How To, Explainer, and DIY Video"); Folio Changemaker Award, 2020
Sharon Profis
3 min read

Watch this: Do-it-yourself adjustable phone stand
Sharon Vaknin/CNET

One glance at Une Bobine and I was interested. The iPhone and Android phone accessory, which got its start on Kickstarter, offers a seemingly better way to position your phone however (and wherever) you want. And besides, it's gorgeous.

My main interest in Une Bobine was that it would allow me to position my phone alongside my desktop monitor, making multitasking easy while my screens were aligned. More than that, however, I could use it as a tripod for video calling and photo-taking.

Well, there were just two things: call me a cheapskate, but I won't pay $30 for an accessory I think I can make myself; and most importantly, putting so much pressure on your phone's charging port may eventually damage it.

After hours of prototyping and testing, I fabricated an alternative that promises the flexibility of Une Bobine without the $30 price tag (and without the potential harm.) I'm calling it: La Bobina.

The stand's base was a no-brainer -- I'd use an old gooseneck lamp to emulate the flexibility La Bobina offers. The challenge, however, was figuring out how to keep a variety of phones propped up on this thing. The answer? Suction cups.

Follow this easy tutorial (and read the tips!) to create your own flexible, adjustable phone stand.

You'll need:

  • A gooseneck lamp (can be found at thrift stores)
  • Contact cement or an equivalent heavy-duty adhesive
  • A medium-size suction cup (about 1.5 inch in diameter)
  • Black felt
  • Contact paper (optional)
  • Pliers

1. Start by taking the lamp apart. Remove the bulb. Peel back the felt that covers the base to reveal the wiring. You'll see wire connectors that keep the bulb wiring and power cord connected. Using the pliers, pinch the wire connectors to open them. Pull the power cord out of the lamp base (you won't need it.)

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

2. There's usually a nut that keeps the lamp's head attached to the neck. Using the pliers, clamp the nut and with a firm grip, unscrew the neck. When it's loose, remove the head from the neck, pulling out the wiring along with it. Keep the nut!

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

3. Now you should have a base with a flexible gooseneck. Screw the nut back onto the neck, so that it's flush with the opening.

4. Follow the directions for the adhesive you're using to adhere the suction cup to the neck of the lamp. When done, cut a small strip of felt and use it to cover the attachment point of the suction cup and neck. (In this case, you can use adhesive felt, as I did in the tutorial video.)

Now, here's the important part: This stand relies on physics alone, so it's very important that you take a few things into consideration when using this contraption.

First, make sure that both the back of your phone and the suction cup are clean before putting the two together. If either are dirty, the phone may not hang on.

If your phone has a perforated back, or logo etched into the back, you may want to give the suction cup extra support by using a silicone- or rubber-based case, or by adhering a small piece of contact paper to the back. If you already have a clear protector on the back of your phone, you're taken care of.

I tested this stand with the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S3, and they both remained suctioned on for more than 72 hours. After this trial, it's safe to say it works with these phones. The key here, however, is that both of the phones have a glossy backing, so (again) if your phone doesn't, give it some support by applying a small piece of contact paper or by using a rubber-based case.

Will it work with a 7-inch tablet? Not in my experience. However, if you think of a clever way to make this happen, please let us know in the comments.

That being said, La Bobina is open to upgrades. For example, a wide-enough gooseneck may allow you to drop a USB cord down the neck, making the stand double as a dock.