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How to Make a DIY Movie Projector For Your Smartphone

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Since stumbling upon a tutorial for a DIY movie projector using a shoebox, I’ve been fascinated with the idea. But I didn’t like how ugly they looked. And would you really want to invite people over and pull out a taped-up shoebox? LOL

But it wasn’t until I completed my patio makeover that the idea started tormenting me again because OUTDOOR MOVIE NIGHT finally seemed like a possibility!

Every month Wendi has a Power Tools Challenge and every month I say I’m going to participate, but then totally flake out. This month, however, I knew I wanted to make this. And of course, we were restricted to using only ONE BOARD.

Okay.

I can do this.

And I totally just did.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving

 

I started with this piece of 2′ x 4′ birch plywood that I just happen to have sitting in my garage from another project. It only cost me about $12 from The Home Depot because it was part of a larger 4′ x 8′ sheet of birch plywood that was cut into 4 pieces when I bought it last month.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 26.38 AM

 

I was making this on the fly so I didn’t know what measurements I would need. You’ll have to figure out your own measurements, too, because I think it depends on the strength of the magnifying glass. For the one that I used from the Dollar Tree, I had to make my DIY movie projector longer than a standard shoebox in order for it to focus properly.

Here’s how I did it!

 

Materials for Making a DIY Movie Project

  • 2′ x 4′ birch plywood
  • $1.00 Magnifying glass from The Dollar Tree
  • Small handsaw (for cutting off the magnifying glass handle)
  • Jigsaw and power drill for cutting out the space for the magnifying glass
  • Miter saw or circular saw for cutting your wood
  • Tape measure & pencil
  • Empire square for each straight lines
  • Glossy black paint for the inside of the DIY movie projector
  • Stencils (optional)

STEP 1: Grab a 2′ x 4′ board.

I ended up using the whole thing, surprisingly!

Home Depot sells 2′ x 4′ boards by themselves, but they’re more expensive at about $20 or so. My advice would be to have them cut down a larger 4′ x 8′ board, which is $50, but overall, you get more pieces for cheaper!

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 26.38 AM

 

STEP 2: Measure the front, and trace the magnifying glass.

 

Decide how big you want it and then measure, draw lines, and cut.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 27.28 AM

 

 

STEP 3: Cut the handle off of the magnifying glass.

You could have cut the handle off first before tracing. Doesn’t matter. 🙂

But this is where a little hand-held hacksaw comes in handy and is easy to do.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 28.14 AM

STEP 4: Begin cutting out the magnifying glass.

Here you can see that I’ve got the lines drawn for the size of the front that I want it to be (just about 7 inches).It’s best to cut it out when it’s a solid piece of wood because it’s more sound and easier to cut.

And it’s best to cut it out when it’s a solid piece of wood because it’s more sound and easier to cut.

When cutting out circles, you need to drill a hole first so that the blade can get in there and start cutting. 🙂

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 28.03 AM

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 27.44 AM

 

Once the hole was cut out, I tested the magnifying glass in there.

You might have to clean up the edges so it fits. Just don’t cut it too wide or else it won’t fit and light will escape!

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 28.30 AM

 

After the glass was tested and fitted, then I cut the rest of the front part of the DIY movie projector using my miter saw.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 28.45 AM

 

STEP 5: Measure and cut the other pieces.

You’ll also need two sides, a bottom, and a back.

But before you cut it out, I highly recommend you test to see how long you’ll need it. Try using a shoe box just to see how long your DIY movie projector box will need to be before you cut out the other pieces. Take note of these measurements.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 29.30 AM

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 29.00 AM

 

 

 

STEP 6: Glue and nail together.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 29.56 AM

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 29.20 AM

 

STEP 7: Make a lid.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 30.21 AM

STEP 8: Paint and stain it.

I used black paint inside to keep it dark, and I used stain for the outside, and added some stencils that stay “Movie Time”!

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 30.36 AM

 

STEP 9: Test It Out!

Soooo….this is where I failed. I didn’t do earlier testing to see how long to make the body. And of course, it totally failed on me! It actually needed to be longer.

Here’s what it looked like when I was done.

Pretty cool, right?

Well, the body wasn’t long enough for the picture to be seen clearly on the old vintage movie screen I bought at the thrift store.

Darn it!

Back to the drawing board…

 

DIY Wooden Movie Project for Your iPhone - Thrift Diving

 

So I had to scrounge up some scrap boards from my 2′ x 4′ (I was not going to cheat and use extra boards! LOL).

I created extra space on the back.

But as you can see, the lid was too short.

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 30.54 AM

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 33.58 AM

 

After a long time, when all was said and done, I had what was a piece-mealed DIY movie projector!

LOL

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 33.25 AM

 

But the good news–IT WORKS!! 🙂

Here are tips to make sure it works

TIP #1: Have a couple pieces of extra wood inside to hold your phone, and use sticky Velcro or some other way to keep your phone standing up.Make sure you LOCK your screen rotation

TIP #2: Make sure you LOCK your screen rotation, and you must have the movies on your smartphone flipped upside down. When the image hits the magnifying glass, it will turn the picture right-side-up onto your white sheet, wall, or movie screen.

TIP #3: Once you’ve figure out how far away your phone needs to be in order for it to be seen clearly, walk yourself and the projector back and forth until it focuses on the screen.



DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 32.09 AM

 

Voila!!

A DIY movie projector for about $15!

I think it looks much nicer than an old DIY shoebox movie projector. Don’t you? 🙂

I consider this my practice one. The next one will not be restricted to gluing random scrap pieces of ONE BOARD together. HAHA! And it would be more colorful, maybe with stencils!

But this isn’t bad for a first try!

Don’t you want to go make one now? 🙂

 

DIY Movie Projector Using a Smartphone - Thrift Diving - 32.55 AM


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25 Comments

  1. This is such a great idea especially right now to get people away from the TV and the couch and to be outside! You made it look very easy to do. Thanks for sharing each week with us at #HomeMattersParty

  2. What a cool project. Your instructions and pictures are great. Thanks for this, I can see us watching an outdoor movie this summer!

  3. My inner nerd is in trade… How exactly does this work?! Like how does the picture go through the magnifying glass to show up on a wall?

    1. Talk to text… intrigued *

  4. This is cool. What did you do for sound?

  5. This is so clever! I’ve made a projector out of a cardboard box before, but your version is so much better & nicer! Thanks for linking up with Merry Monday last week; I chose your project as my Host Pick for this week. Our party goes live at 9pm EST tonight and we’d love to have to link up again!

  6. What an awesome idea! I didn’t know this was possible, and it’s much less expensive than a movie projector. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I’ve been wanting to figure out a way to have an outdoor moving showing, but just couldn’t bring myself to buy a projector. LOVE this idea so much. Thanks for the directions!

  8. This is awesome. I did not know and I am going to make one for sure. Thank you for sharing at DIshing it and DIgging it link party. Thanks for coming.

  9. This is such a great idea! Thank you so much for making a tutorial. I will be sharing this with my husband so we can incorporate this into our upcoming backyard remodel ????

  10. Such a cool project and I love that you included all the details of the process to get it right!!! Thanks for the inspiration…fall and movies are a perfect combo! 🙂

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