Tag Archives: music

38: Earbud Card

The bamboo was finely sanded and oiled, and feels great in hand.
The bamboo was finely sanded and oiled, and feels great in hand.

Several weeks ago, Jennifer and I were on a vacation. We hopped on an Amtrak train and traveled, slowly, from Aurora to Seattle. Since we were going the long way—via Denver and Sacramento, and later St. Paul—we both made sure to carry along a pair of headphones for those moments when we just couldn’t stand to hear each other anymore. (I’m just kidding, Jen, I love you!)

We've all dealt with at least one of these.
We’ve all dealt with at least one of these.

The thing is, no matter when or where I pulled out my earbuds, this is what they looked like. Especially on a pair of headphones that is coated in the kind of tacky rubber Apple uses, there’s nothing like a tiny tight ball of tangled wire to sour any planned podcast play. More than once during that trip, I told myself I’d use my laser to cut a solution to this mess. Thankfully, I didn’t have to invent the wheel.

The bamboo card sans headphones.
The bamboo card sans headphones.

Plenty of people out there have  made their own headphone wranglement devices. Quite a few of them are cut or engraved with lasers, too! Fellow makers, like Brett Beauregard, paved the way and wrote about their own experiences solving their wire tangles, and Brett was kind enough to share the vector data for his own solution: a wire wrangler that doubles as a  business card!

The front face is etched with a generic musical note clipart.
The front face is etched with a generic musical note clipart.
The back is a little messier than the front thanks to the cord being a smidge too long.
The back is a little messier than the front thanks to the cord being a smidge too long.

With very little modification and a simple musical note clipart for interest’s sake, the card shape was run through the laser and came out great. The ear buds themselves fit well in their circular spaces and the notches around the edges hold the TRS connector in place. My headphone cord was a hair longer than would fit perfectly on the card I cut, so a future card would have slightly different grooves to adjust the wrap length.

I sanded down the edges for once!
I sanded down the edges for once!

This time I spent some extra care finishing the wood. I sanded in three passes, using the finest sandpaper I have handy for the final pass, and even made sure to sand the edges of the card.  I don’t normally do this because it’s a huge pain as pieces get more complicated, but a simple rounded rectangle is no trouble and I really wanted a clean look all the way around. Some of the internal edges were too narrow to reach with my sanding block, so they were just cleaned up so they wouldn’t leave marks on the wire.

I couldn't sand it all away, though.
I couldn’t sand it all away, though.

Some natural oil finished the job, giving the piece a much healthier look, and that’s that! I’m certainly thrilled not to have to deal with that tiny wadded up ball of angst anymore!