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Wooden Computer Case
First, a word about my setup: I use my computer for everything. It is connected to a large screen LCD TV and I watch movies, TV programs, surf the internet, email, design new things and even write these articles with it. So, being as versatile and central to what I'm doing, it deserves some attention once in a while. I do regular upgrades, usually every 1-3 years, depending on my requirements. I've also built several cases to hold the hardware over the years, trying to come up with a better solution each time. My last case was very good - a marriage of metal frame and wood exterior, but is coming up short in a couple of areas now. Meanwhile, a few years ago, I made a 6 channel amplifier to drive active three-way speakers. Having finished it, I didn't have a place to put it, so I made a "temporary" stand, constructed from scraps of particle board and nailed together. I figured this would be ok until I found time to build something better... Three years later, that rough box is still there.
The stand, in all its glory. The white arrow points to my computer in its 'naked' state - outer case was removed to upgrade and never reinstalled:
So, a recent computer upgrade had me thinking about a new case and I got the idea that the best place for my computer is inside that stand. It might seem a little out-there, but the more I considered it, the more I liked the idea. There would be several advantages to doing it, with no real down side, that I can see.
Wooden Computer Case
It could be built to fit a standard sized furnace filter to clean the incoming air. Among the usual maintenance routines for my computer is to take it out to my shop and blow the ~1lb of dust out of it. This could be avoided if all of the incoming air was filtered first. Also, there would be ample space to add components (like hard drives) and everything could be organized for better cooling and access. I like the dual purpose idea of using one thing for two tasks - a computer hiding inside a table! Some well spent time with SketchUp, to get the basic shape down and work out the details. This is the front view, the square in the front panel is a door that opens to access the power switch, DVD drive and a card reader / USB port. Having these things hidden away cleans up the unit, and since I rarely switch the computer off or use the DVD drive, it isn't an inconvenience (left):
Wooden Computer Case
The back panel has the regular computer outputs and a 140mm fan (above, right). The fan blows out, pulling air into the case through the filter, which slides in at the bottom. The top is removable, for easy access. This shows how the DVD drive is installed flat against the back of the front panel. I did it this way to reduce the amount of space it takes up inside the case. The card reader is mounted in the same way, except at the bottom (left):
Wooden Computer Case
that pull air directly from outside the case). right). It will pull clean air from the inside of the case (unlike most.Wooden Computer Case There is a hard drive rack mounted on the left side wall (above. I figure this is the maximum I will ever need. It has space for six drives. showing some of the details: 5 . The power supply is mounted on a shelf near the back panel. This will keep it dust-free as well. Here's a cut-away.
Cool. about $17.Wooden Computer Case The furnace filter fits in a slot created by cleats that circle the bottom of the case. fresh air enters the case at the bottom. Good quality. I found this one. but a small price to pay for keeping the inside of the case free from dust (left): 6 . Building The Case The first thing I did after coming up with the concept was to go shopping for a filter. a 16" x 20" x 1" thick. so that it could be easily replaced. The size would need to be standard.
Wooden Computer Case 7 .
I used an old ATX computer case to salvage the motherboard tray and part of the back panel (above. left over from some other project (left): 8 . This is much easier than trying to mount the motherboard to homemade parts. I'm using more scrap material. right). Also in the name of economy.Wooden Computer Case In the name of efficiency and economy. Here are the four sides of the case. 1/2" thick particle board.
Wooden Computer Case 9 .
To wrap the top.Wooden Computer Case The box is built using butt joints and 1-1/4" nails. with polyurethane construction adhesive as glue (above. right). They are glued and nailed in place: 10 . My old steel square (rusty. covers the edge of the particle board and provides a recess for the removable top. I cut rabbets into 3/4" thick plywood: The corners are mitered. Glued butt joints are more than strong enough for this. unmoving and there's nothing to be gained by making it bomb proof. but still deadly square) says the box is true. This trim stiffens the top of the side panels. There's not much sense spending time on superior joinery if it isn't needed. This case will sit there.
Wooden Computer Case With the case flipped over. I can install the cleats that hold the filter. glued and nailed in place: 11 . These are 3/4" x 5/8" spruce.
it's a great idea to have plenty of this very inexpensive material on hand) to cover and stiffen the bottom edge: 12 . The bottom gets a similar treatment as the top. I cut pieces of solid spruce (well dried .Wooden Computer Case With the filter installed. This is a lot of surface area and I expect this filter will easily last a year or more before it should be changed.
Wooden Computer Case Again. occasionally) and will be filled with auto body filler later. I cut a shallow reveal on the outside: 13 . The slots cut in the bottom of the front piece are a mistake (I make one or two. glued and nailed. Here's a close up of how it is applied (left).
right). I coated the inside as well: 14 . I sanded the case smooth and sprayed on three coats of clear polyurethane (above.Wooden Computer Case After letting the glue cure over night.
5" drive) apart (left): 15 . These are spaced 1" (the thickness of a standard 3. Hard Drive Rack With so much internal space. I gave some thought about where to mount them and decided that they would fit nicely on the left side wall of the case. there would be no problem to meet my desired minimum capacity of six hard drives.Wooden Computer Case To prime bare wood for painting or other finishes (other than stain). Made mostly from plywood. across from the motherboard. solvent based urethane is an excellent choice. It penetrates and hardens the surface and seals the wood against moisture penetration. I glued and pinned wood dividers to separate the drives.
The rack as it is holds the drives snugly. right). but to fasten them in place. I made metal angles that attach to the front edges of the rack: 16 .Wooden Computer Case Good to have a couple of dead drives for mock-up work (above.
The bevels are cut so that the metal will over-bend. The two blocks are cut with slots and bevels. to allow for spring back: 17 .Wooden Computer Case This is thin gauge sheet metal that I bent. using a homemade bender.
I located. drilled and countersunk for four #10-24 bolts that go though the side (left): 18 .Wooden Computer Case To mount the drive rack.
19 . The outside of the case will be veneered. I filled the countersinks with auto body filler (above. so all of these larger holes need to be filled. right).Wooden Computer Case After these were nutted and tightened. Auto body filler sets fast and shrinks very little. making it great for filling holes in wood.
Front Panel Access Door One of the more complex parts of this case is the front panel access door arrangement. I set up a guide board for my circular saw to make a plunge cut along each edge. but I thought that would ruin the overall look of the case. I'm doing it this way to make the cuts as straight as possible. plus I can use the left over scrap as the door (left): 20 . to screw it in place.Wooden Computer Case The rack is installed temporarily: The angles have holes drilled that line up with the centre mounting hole in the drive. I wanted an uninterrupted surface the door should be perfectly flush and the shape of it must blend in with the veneer pattern I have in mind. I could have made my life a lot easier by just mounting the drive and card reader through the front. To cut the opening.
Wooden Computer Case To get a straight clean cut. so this won't be visible. All of this will be covered with veneer after. right). I over-cut then filled with auto body filler (above. These are self closing and fully adjustable. Part of the interior box is made and the door is hung: I edge banded the door with maple veneer and I'm using full inset concealed hinges. 21 .
it will look much better when it has been clad in fine wood veneer. I drill the heads off with a 1/4" bit (left): 22 . but some of it was put together with rivets.Wooden Computer Case Not pretty. but wait. Salvaged parts Much of the old ATX case is screwed together.
Wooden Computer Case Then pull the rest of it out with pliers (above. The rest is discarded. the motherboard tray and back panel. right). This leaves me with the parts I need. except for the power switch lead. It has the correct connector on the end to plug into the motherboard (left): 23 .
Wooden Computer Case Measurements from the back panel are marked out on the case (above. The hole is cut with the jigsaw and the edges cleaned up with a sanding block (left): 24 . right).
A good. close fit (left): 25 .Wooden Computer Case Mounted (above. right).
Wooden Computer Case The location for the exhaust fan is marked out twice(!) and cut once (above. With the majority of the case done. I'll need a finger guard grill for the outside. but forgot to order one with the fan. I've started painting the areas that need to be black: That's anywhere that there isn't any veneer. right). Notice I painted the hard drive rack as 26 .
The inside of the case will remain natural.the plastic feet: I drilled 5/16" holes and glued these onto the bottom. to match the rest of the door (left): 27 .Wooden Computer Case well. I considered painting it white. I cut a finger grip in the door with a cove bit on the router table. I then painted it black. A Thousand And One Details Salvaged another part from the old PC case . but I believe that would actually make it look a bit crappy in there. Time is better spent on other aspects of the build. anyway.
It works well enough. With these. These are at the top of the opening and don't interfere with the DVD drawer as it opens. push to open) plus a helper spring to overcome the self closing springs in the hinges.Wooden Computer Case (above. the door opens just enough to grip. I made more sheet metal angles to use as brackets (left): 28 . The DVD drive and card reader are mounted on the backside of the front panel. right) I needed two touch latches (push to close.
I soldered on a new lead wire and used heat shrink to insulate the connection and make it more durable and less easy to break. Here's the splice to the board connector (left): 29 . right).Wooden Computer Case The power switch is an ordinary SPST momentary switch (above.
Wooden Computer Case The power switch is mounted in the back panel of the recess (above. I cut a notch and added a wood block behind (left): 30 . To power on the computer. With the power supply inside the case. I think that is a good place for it. so that it doesn't interfere with the filter sliding in and out. I would open the front access door and push the button. At the bottom of the back panel. right). the power cord needs to be held in place.
I think. right). 31 . The power cord goes through.Wooden Computer Case This notch is the thickness of a piece of 1/2" plywood that fits in there (above. the screws are tightened and this clamps it in: A neat solution.
Veneering The Box This part of the project is here: Veneering The Box I can go into more detail on that part of the project in a separate article. it's time to start moving the hardware in. to inspect the inside for gaps that need to be covered or filled. and not through openings.Wooden Computer Case A piece of 3/4" plywood is used for the top of the case: Cut to size and rabbeted flush with the top. I want all of the air that enters the case to come through the filter. I'm not going to use any screws to hold it. It will just sit in place. One of the bigger ones is here (left): 32 . The first thing I did was to put the motherboard tray and back plate in. Installing The Hardware With the case finished on the outside.
since I won't be needing those. right). Here's an easy fix: 1/4" plastic tubing cut to length and a #6-32 machine screw that threads into the motherboard tray (left): 33 . I also covered all but three of the PCI slots on the back plate.Wooden Computer Case Patched up with aluminum tape (above. I was short a couple of motherboard standoffs.
I then used 1/4" threaded rods and 34 . I have come up with another cooling solution for the video card that I'll go into later. Mounting the power supply: There is a strip of plywood that goes across the case that supports it. Red arrow points out that I have removed the fan from the cooler on the video card in order to install the SATA expansion card in the PCI express X1 slot. I made a metal angle (left side of photo) that screws to the plywood strip and into one of the mounting holes in the supply. right). Much easier to get this in before putting it in the case.Wooden Computer Case The motherboard installed on the tray (above.
Having this computer run silent is very important to me. right). These fit into shallow holes and are glued in place with clear silicone (left): 35 . I found it does as well as the stock fan and is less noisy. this time in compression. A good example of noise reduction is the hard drive rack. It is running full speed. loaded it with drives and fired the computer up. a plywood bracket with a 50mm fan mounted on springs to cut the noise transfer to the case. Here's the video card cooling fan.Wooden Computer Case plywood straps to clamp it down. hungry sound and the wide side panel was amplifying this. at 12 volts and is virtually silent (left): Mounted on the back panel of the case (above. I found that there was altogether too much noise coming from the drives. Springs were used again. and I've gone to extremes to make this happen. I had to come up with a way to isolate it from the case. They are mechanical and make the stomach growling. I made a bracket that has four stiff springs on the bottom. When I mounted the original design. Testing it.
These are fastened with silicone as well. right). The modified rack goes between and is completely cushioned by the springs: Close up of the bottom of the rack: 36 .Wooden Computer Case The top part of the bracket has just two springs (above.
the resistors don't even get warm (left): 37 . Hard drives get warm and to get some cool air circulating around them. This lowers the voltage to the fan to about 8 volts. These are 1/4 watt resistors for a total of 3/4 watt . A good safety margin. I mounted another 50mm fan on the bottom of the drive rack bracket. or will the weight of six hard drives compress the springs too much.about three times the power dissipated to drop the 4 volts. Here I'm soldering a voltage dropping resistor (3 270 ohm in parallel) in-line with the fan. making it run slower and quieter.Wooden Computer Case It will be interesting to see if this holds up over time.
The hard drives installed and connected: 38 . right). I have not heard a peep from the drive since.Wooden Computer Case More tension springs hold this fan in place (above. The new drive rack installed: A noise reduction measure that was completely successful. it was time to finish up. no more "stomach rumbling" they must be full! Hooking It All Up With the major parts fabricated and put in.
but for now it is more than sufficient (left): 39 .this is no exception. so this is as good as it gets. not too bad. The 140mm exhaust fan is bolted directly to the rear panel of the case. Still. and just barely. I'm more interested in everything working properly than neat wiring. SATA cables are quite a big improvement over IDE cables and that alone goes a long way to cleaning up the interior. but it is running at a reduced voltage as well and is very quiet.Wooden Computer Case The inside of most computer cases are a wire management nightmare . I may do something to isolate this fan in a future update. It is the only thing I can hear in fact.
Seen at the bottom is the furnace filter. This is for the receiver for my wireless mouse and keyboard. The rear of the case. It makes more sense to put this inside. rather than use up the lone USB port that is available at the front panel. just double sided taped to the DVD drive.Wooden Computer Case I added a USB port internally. Easy to slide it out to replace it (left): 40 .
right). I was going to open it and disable that LED.I don't believe I can do much better than this. It looks like my quest for the ultimate computer case has come to and end .Wooden Computer Case The card reader has one of those high intensity. It's visible when the door is shut. so I think I'll cover it with a piece of tape. 41 . Here it is. retina-burning blue LEDs (above. all finished: Definitely something different and I'm extremely pleased with the outcome. but forgot.
the stand was sized with this one in mind. it could be a while before this one is finished. I have another 6-channel amp that is about half done (above. I like it a lot better when the amplifier is not on top of it! This isn't actually the one that will ultimately be there. though. but taller . right). Thanks for reading. John Heisz 42 .Wooden Computer Case I made a video showing the highlights: To watch the latest videos of new projects. subscribe to my YouTube channel. Of course. Interestingly enough. It's not as wide.
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