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We are passionate designers who believe in making quality products to enhance the everyday.

 

In woodworking, "Kerf" is the thickness of material removed from a saw blade, usually measured in 1/1000 of an inch.  Making familiar accessories from unconventional materials requires a level of extreme precision, so we chose Kerf to represent us because it’s everything we are: precise, finicky, and obsessed with perfection.

Our Story

Smartphone accessories such as cases are sold for protection and style, and some enterprising makers have experimented with natural materials like wood to complement the metal and glass of their new smartphones.  Designer Ben Saks was one of them.

iPhone X KerfCases

Kerf's signature all wood iPhone X Case

Unsatisfied with existing wood cases, Ben spent an evening in the wood shop of Carnegie Mellon University's architecture school and created a case for his new iPhone 5. Over the course of six months, the original design was extensively revised, tested, and revised again, and word spread from friends and family to the internet.  After seeing the demand for a sustainable product made from local and natural materials, Saks founded KerfCase in 2013 and began the process of making cases at scale.

kerf shop

In 2015, KerfCase grew too large to operate without a dedicated space of their own. The company moved to its current home at the former Mine Safety Appliances building, a converted factory which houses over 30 artists, startups, and small businesses. With space to grow, Ben acquired a full suite of specialty machines and hired a small team. The design and development of new and exciting ways to make wooden iPhone cases became our company mission, and in 2017 we expanded our lineup to include the brand-new Google Pixel.  Along the way we’ve expanded our product offering to include card wallets, pencil cases, and anything that can be made with our tools (hint: a lot).


Our Values

KerfCase is devoted to joining sustainable materials with advanced technology.

Made from 100% natural wood, by their nature every wooden KerfCase is unique from all others.  From the cases themselves to the 100% post-consumer recycled packaging, we obsessively reuse and recycle as much as we can.  Avoiding waste isn’t just good business; it’s the right thing to do in our increasingly disposable world.

package detail

Our wood is sourced with an emphasis on sustainability.  Our partnerships with Urban Tree, which rescues felled trees in the Pittsburgh area, to specialty growers around the United States, provide us with beautiful, local wood that does not rob the planet of oxygen and shade.  Our exotic hardwood collection is not sourced from countries that exploit their natural resources or deal in endangered species.

Laser Engraved Wood iPhone X Case

We wouldn’t be able to make the product we do without cutting-edge CNC machinery, but we also get more from our materials and labor, and that helps us keep our footprint small and stay agile.

Wood and Metal case for iPhone X

Each KerfCase is a custom work of art.  We keep a small inventory of our most popular cases, but most of our products are made to order and ship within five business days.  This helps keep our footprint small, and drastically reduces waste.  One of our favorite services is showing customers our raw wood stock and letting them choose the exact piece that becomes their case.  We believe it's critical to do our own customer service rather than exporting it, so you can contact us directly if you'd like us to make something special for you!

iPhone X Amboyna Burl Wood KerfCase

We believe in hometown manufacturing, and we do not outsource or import products or services from overseas. Production of a single case involves over 30 separate production steps, involving several specialty CNC machines and skilled hand work, resulting in a finished product that is unlike any other.  It might be harder, and more expensive, than working with prefab parts from abroad, but it is important to us that the work we sell is done honestly, with our own hands.

KerfCases Google Pixel 2 XL, iPhone X
At KerfCase, every member of the team is responsible for part of the production process, from processing lumber to hand sanding, in addition to their other responsibilities.  This way, everyone at Kerf is involved in the joy of making things, and remembers what our purpose is.

Our Forest

The story of our wood starts in the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania, carpeted in a mixed deciduous forest. KerfCase wood phone cases are designed, machined, finished, and shipped from Pittsburgh, PA. Once the center of American steel production, Pittsburgh has transformed into a technology-centered city nestled in an urban forest. Our forest is comprised of oak, maple, walnut, cherry, ash, sycamore, and many other species of hardwood trees. Every piece of wood has a story, whether it's a piece of reclaimed flooring, or a beautiful burled wood from a local tree which was damaged in a storm.

 Urban tree reclaimed wood sticker drying facility

Urban Tree's sticker drying facility

In order to work with the beautiful wood that surrounds us, we’ve partnered with Urban Tree, a Pittsburgh company with a noble mission.  Urban Tree works exclusively with reclaimed wood, converting felled and unwanted lumber into furniture-grade wood.  Their process takes 1-3 years and produces beautiful wood, saved from abandonment from our own backyard.  Whenever we can, we use reclaimed local hardwood as our primary building block for our products.

OUR TEAM

Ben Saks KerfCase Founder

Ben Saks - Founder, CEO, Design Leader

KerfCase is the brainchild of Ben Saks, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture in 2008.  A designer, artist, and filmmaker, Ben’s experiments at the Carnegie Mellon wood and machine shop, as well as his experience as an instructor at Techshop Pittsburgh, gave him a comprehensive product design instinct that he uses to dream up functional and beautiful handmade objects.  Ben has turned KerfCase from a hobby into a growing business with state-of-the-art machinery and a full-time staff, and can’t wait to debut a line of homewares to accompany our phone case business.  Ben has long been involved in the small and dedicated F1D ultralight model airplane community, and his documentary Float, chronicling the 2014 F1D championship, will be premiering in 2019.

 

Jesse Davis - Operations Manager

Jesse brings his inventory wizardry and creative problem-solving to KerfCase's dual wood-shop and commerce business.   As our link to the outside world, Jesse is the public face of Kerf and happy to answer any questions you have about our products.  Jesse's favorite thing to do is work with customers to make a handpicked special case, so contact us to see our available stock, and be sure to ask about off-the-menu options!  Outside of KerfCase Jesse is a songwriter and guitarist; check out his band Bad Custer to hear his work.

Seth Gamson - Product Designer, Production Manager

A self described designer/artist/maker, Seth toes the line between art and design. Seth's artistic capabilities drive our new product design and development, and he also has the making skills to oversee our intricate production process. Between a bachelors in Studio Arts, a masters in Product Design, and fabrication projects of his own, Seth has built familiarities in an array of materials and processes. You can check out more of his work at sethswork.com

phil

Phil Giammattei - Web Developer

A veteran of Apple and Google, Phil was brought on in 2016 to assist with the growing business operations challenges of KerfCase.  When he's not maintaining kerfcase.com, Phil handles strategy, financial planning, advertising, customer service, content and social media marketing, Kerf Select, and all the little things that keep the company humming.   You can read his musings on woodworking, running a small business, and technology on our Kerf Blog.  When he’s not at work, Phil is likely using Kerf’s many wood scraps to smoke large pieces of meat.

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iGeeksBlog review of KerfCaseTechCrunch logo - review of wooden Kerf CaseGQ logo - review of Kerf CaseWSJ logo - review of Kerf Case

 

 

We take pride in offering the best customer service possible. Our customers consistently say we have the best wood iPhone cases on the market. Take a look at what some of them have to say:

"You guys did a fantastic job on this case! I will pass along to my high-end phone case friends. Keep up the good work, thanks for the prompt delivery. You guys rock!" -Steve

"The new case arrived today and you are definitely right - it is fantastic! It is just so different! Love it! Will be letting others know where to go when they want a quality, very different cell phone case." -Sherry

"I received my case yesterday. I love it. Generally, less is more for me with my iPhones. The phone is beautiful, I love the form factor and don't go with a heavier, bulkier case. However, yours is not that. Very unique case. I'm a big fan. Well done." -Jim Rome

"This case is a work of art." -Kurt

"I love this case. What separates Kerf cases from everything else on the market is the quality of the product. When you handle it, you feel like you're holding something special." -Brian

"This case checks all my boxes: eco-friedly, handmade, clean design, durable and light-weight." -Alexandra

"The quality of wood and craftsmanship are outstanding." -Webber

"Absolutely gorgeous, unique case like nothing I've owned before." -Debra

"This is the best case I have ever owned. Not only does it protect the phone but it is visually stunning and gets complimented constantly, truly a work of art." -Justin

"The character of the wood is stunning. It's not like any other wood I've ever seen. Each case is a one-of-a-kind, but this one is uniquely impressive in its beauty. So happy with this case! Thanks to Ben for the outstanding customer service with the speedy shipping and detailed emails. I'm a customer for life." -Lori

"The character of the wood is stunning … So happy with this case!" -L.A.W.

"This is an excellent phone case. It grips well on the hand therefore prevents accidental drops." -Jesus

"This spalted black walnut iPhone 6+ case was beyond my expectations. And the expectations were high … this product does not disappoint as the craftsmanship is five-star." -Steve

"I didn't know what to expect, but when I got it in the mail and put it on it was absolutely beautiful. It is a great looking case. I highly recommend." -Vincent

"Absolutely beautiful! A true work of art. Phone fits perfectly. Looks better than any case I've owned." -TM

"I'm extremely pleased with it. It's like having a work of art surrounding my phone." -Lori

"This case is crazy. No one else has this, it's on another level. Im always looking for something to stand out and this case is it." -Marcus

"I just received my new case and can not be more impressed and satisfied with this product. The flamed maple is awesome and the fit on the iPhone 7 is perfect!" -Andy

"I really love your products. They make me hate my phone a little less." -Johan

"Thank you for making awesome things. I love it." -Goran

"I received my case today. The fit is perfect and it is gorgeous!" -Tom

"I received my new phone case, and it is beautiful...a work of art!" -Dan

"I've never liked a case before. I've tried some different rubber and plastic cases and always end up taking it off within a couple days. This case, however, I will never take off. This is by far the best looking and best feeling case I've ever owned. Also loved the packaging touch. Keep up the good work, I will definitely be buying more in the future." - Yasir S

"The world could use more good design and less plastic!" - John C

"I just got my new Kerf case, and it’s beautiful! My company logo on the back came out sweet! And, I can charge the phone through the case on a Qi pad, which makes it even better. You all should be proud of your craftsmanship. " - Leroy N

"I received my Kerf Case this afternoon and I am really pleased with it! I love how it envelopes the phone and has a feel that is easy to hold. The buttons work great and I like that the silence button is recessed, it isn’t likely to be bumped. I really appreciate the job you did on the graphic on the back. Thanks for your work on this!"- Nels K

"This is the first time I will be using an iPhone case - ever!
I did my homework - I looked at many manufacturers online (none of them seemed worthy). This is a huge vote of confidence and testament to what I imagine will be amazing craftsmanship."- Matt K

"I just have received your product. I just couldn't be happier. It is much more than what I expected. There are few alternatives in terms of google Pixel phone case but your creation is much much better choice. Thank you for creating such an excellent product." - Y Ito

"In the end, what swung it for was the fact you were a small local business that sourced within your local community. Even though I live in Glasgow, Scotland, this really was important and I liked the fact your company was proud of your area, the resources it has and your product. The choice of woods was also pretty cool and at one point is was very torn between the walnut and the rosewood. I ended up opting for the walnut - very much looking forward to getting it on my new iPhone X." -Derek S

"I just received my iPhone case today and it's stunning, keep up the good work!" - Andrew D

"I really do appreciate the help that you guys have done, i know i was frustrated at first. But i do really appreciate companies that really help out with their products. means a lot from someone like me who has had multiple things sit broken in my room because companies would not help out." - Chris W

"I left my phone on the vinyl roof of my car (let’s not discuss that) and it finally flew off as I drove and landed on a busy street. When I was finally able to locate and retrieve it, it had been run over by a large truck and dragged more than 300 feet under the tire. When the truck turned, the case, phone, and wood separated and I found them about 20 feet from each other. Remarkably, my iPhone is fine! Also remarkably, so is the spalted maple backing! However, the steel frame, having done its job well, is now bent (but not mangled). I don’t know if any other case made out of any other material would have done as good a job." -Ben W

"Just received my Alloy case for iPhone 7 and I’m very impressed with the quality of the case. I will definitely purchase more products from your company and will recommend Kerf Case to family and friends. Thanks for a great product." - Gohar N

"As a woodworker I really appreciate the unique iPhone cases you craft. This is my second case. I bought the new iPhone 7 plus, so I had to order another one as soon as possible. I can't tell you how many comments I have received, with the main comment "that's so cool" and " really that's all wood? Thanks and keep up the good work." - Clarke

"I’m a woodworking hobbyist and was really impressed with your product! I have told several friends about it already and will be sharing links and pictures with them when it comes in! Thanks for making these." -B

"I received my phone case yesterday morning, and after the first 24 hours with it my first impression is wow! The quality of this case is beyond my expectation. It's so smooth and wonderfully sanded, I can smell the wood and that is one of my favorite parts of it. I love the little attention to detail that most wood phone cases don't have, like wood buttons instead of rubber. Being a man in the military I take extreme pleasure in attention to detail and your product definitely delivered. Thank you so much for not disappointing me! Good luck with your company I'll be rooting for you!" Very Respectfully, Petty Officer 3rd Class Dehart, Nathan D.

"I received my case last week and after seeing how amazingly made it was I had to order one for my wife right away. Thank you for making such and outstanding product!" - Daniel

"The spalted maple iPhone SE case I just received is wonderful!! A true work of art and totally functional. Love it! Thanks so much. Will recommend to everyone and when it's new iPhone time for me it will always be Kerf case time." - Eddie

"You just can't replicate that depth of color and texture with man-made materials. It brings my glass rectangle addiction one step back into the natural world, and I'll take that wherever I can get it." - Stephanie

"Thank you for making such an awesome product both durable and stylish. You have helped in every way I've needed and in an expeditious way....something you can't find in an owner of a business these days. I greatly appreciate everything." - Jake G Hampu

"I just wanted to let you know that I received my case today and it is quite possibly most beautiful iPhone case I've ever seen! I did a lot of research on wood phone cases and settled on Kerf Case because of the quality—I was not disappointed. The care that went into crafting and shipping the case is evident and I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Thanks for creating such a wonderful product!"- Kirstin

"Apologies for the delay in replying, but it was somewhat intentional. I wanted to wait until we received our cases yesterday. I am more than impressed with the craftsmanship that you and your staff put towards your products. The cases are beautiful and well worth what we paid for them. Thank you again. I will have no problems referring friends to KERF, who have as much of an appreciation for natural hand crafted products as I do." - Kyle Elias, BScH, DVM 

"They are going to become my holiday gift this season ....for all my people....Great product. Very original." - Christopher Bardasian

"Now that's customer service. Thanks Ben I appreciate the attention to detail you guys have with your business plan. No questions but I will tell you that you've earned my respect with the speed, efficiency and quality products you're providing with your customers." - Mark Wilson

"Just wanted to reach out and thank you again- I got my cases back this week and they are beautifully repaired (or replaced, I can't even tell)! Please give Cat my thanks as well for her craftsmanship. I was already a big Kerf fan and repeat customer but will definitely keep coming back thanks to your outstanding service and support. You guys rock, and your products are beautiful. Thanks so much." - Courtney Sanford

"Thank you for your direct contact. This morning I picked up the case from the German customs office. And let me tell you this case is amazing! Thank you so much, you guys did a great job." - Stefan

"Well beyond expectations. Craftsmanship is as close to perfection as possible. Customer service is impeccable and prices are lower than competitors who make inferior products." - Robert W 

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© 2019, Kerf Case     201 North Braddock Ave: #334     Pittsburgh, PA 15208     (412) 447-5602
Custom Alloy and Real Wood iPhone Cases & Wooden Google Pixel Phone Cases - Handmade in USA