Saturday, December 27, 2014

Otterbox belt clip repair

I hate putting my phone in my pocket.  I've got too much crap in there already, and it makes it too hard to get to.  So when I got an otterbox case, I also made sure to get a belt clip for it.  But one of the mounting ears broke off of the clip.  Instead of trying JB Weld or superglue, I decided to try and make a new one out of metal.

Read more if you care about the steps, with pictures.

The belt clip seems to be about 1/8 inch thick, so I started digging through my box looking for 1/8 steel.  I didn't find any, but I figure the metal doesn't have to be as thick to be stronger than the plastic.  What I ended up finding was the end of a shovel.  I cut pieces out of it in the basic shape.

The first picture is the broken clip, the new clip main piece and the hinge ears, and the shovel I cut it out of.  (By the way, I think that may be called a sharpshooter or drain spade, but I grew up calling it a bill dookie.)  The clip was supposed to be cut to the width of the original clip.  I then  notched out the position of the ears to the proper inner width.  This makes it easier to position, and makes for a flatter side edge in the end (if that matters to anyone).

The hinge ears are cut about twice as long as they need to be.  That is so that I can hold them easier.  I held the center of the flat edge with needle-nose pliers, and tack welded both sides to the clip.  Then I cut the extra off and welded across the seam.

I ground most of the weld off, and found that there wasn't enough penetration on one of them, so I gouged it out and rewelded it.  I decided to leave the weld for "character".  Once I was done, one of the ears was too short.  I knew it wouldn't work, but I decided to try to weld onto the edge.  Of course, my weld was set up too hot, so I just melted it down until I had a "wart" as tall as the ear.  Then I took the grinder and ground it back down to a flat ear.

I cut off the sharp tip, and then cut two flat strips.  These are the spacer to make then end hook.  I lined them up with the end and tacked them in place, then welded along the edge.  Then I welded a wider strip on top of those to create the hook, and then ground down both sides to get the stack even.

After that, I just drilled the holes for the hinge.  The cool thing about metalworking as opposed to woodworking is that if (when) I screw it up, I can just add some more metal and try again.  In this case, I drilled the hole on the ear that was all weld metal too close to the clip, and the ear was too short as well.  I just filled the hole and built the entire ear back up, ground it back down to a thin sheet-like ear, and then redrilled.  The only thing left was to drop a single bead on the new clip in the middle to hold the spring (and I forgot to get a picture of that before I assembled it).

Since the ears are thinner, if I push the hinge pin all the way through, it would probably bind against the clip body ears.  But, since the clip ears are metal, I didn't have to push it all the way in to hold.  I'm not positive it won't come out, but I think it will be fine.  And if it does come out, I'll make a new pin.  Probably just bend a finish nail or something. :)


  1. Hey,Timothy,I 've been reading your blog and enjoying them alot.I'm so proud of the man you've grown into.In spite of your dad's and my influence .I hope you all had a great Christmas and that your 2015 will be wonderful.I lovve you!Mom

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