Jani's Big Quiet Wood Case PC

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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August 2, 2006 by Jani Tikka (jani.tikka at gmail dot com)

Here's a DIY quiet PC project story by a Finnish teen who has the distinction of being the youngest SPCR editorial contributor to date. The project involves another custom-built wooden case (not the first at SPCR), exotic woods, a cardboard box, and some help from Jani's father.

- Mike Chin, Editor

I've thought about making a quiet wooden computer case since the year 2000. I checked dozens of articles about wooden computer cases [Editor's Note: Are there that many?], then drew sketches of my ideas. I had hundreds of different ideas about the front panel and I sketched about ten of them. Soon the sketches started filling my tables and cupboards. I couldn't decide which one to choose. Now I only had one serious problem: I still live with my parents because of my young age and I needed my father's acceptance for this project. After convincing my dad that this project was a good idea, he really started helping me with the project. I was actually pretty surprised. :)

In February or March, we marched to the local hardware-store, bought the birch plywood and cut it into pieces (to fit the completely new design for the case, which I made just before we left) with hardware-store's own big circular saw. The plywood cost us about 32€.

At home we made the drawings for the internal part of the case to which the components would be attached, and after that I sanded the veneer plywood in our basement. Then we put on a nice coat of super glossy varnish.

We made markings onto the bottom-veneer and cut pieces away from it with a hand-held upward cutter. Then we fitted the back, side and the front pieces into the holes and we noticed that they fitted like a left shoe onto right foot... nah, just kidding, they fit perfectly on the first attempt. We also cut holes to the front panel for the optical drives etc. and to the back for the mobo-tray and power supply.

We had almost assembled the inner part of the case when we noticed that maybe the fan holes would be good to make, too. So we disassembled the case, and cut 3x 120mm intakes and 1x 120mm + 1x92mm exhausts where I could put fans if I wanted to. Next day we assembled the case and glued all parts together to tighten the fit with the screws. We re-sanded the case with very fine and smooth sand-paper and put on another layer of varnish. Next day we did the same process. Once it was all dry, I assembled my computer in it.

Here are a couple of pictures of the project at this point.

From the front.

From the top / side. See the HDD silencing section if you wonder about the cardbox box.

The inner construction seemed fine but we were still undecided about the external design. We were going to use pine, but we saw this marvellous looking dark-hued wood called Nyatoh. We both had a look at it and said: "That's definitly the wood we're gonna take". So we bought a couple of these huge boards (250cm x 30cm x 2cm), cut them in half and of course cut a 50cm piece off them because we only needed 200cm. The case is 100cm high but we needed two boards per side to fill the depth (60cm). This time we did all the cutting at home in our basement with a mitre saw. We redesigned the outer part for about 20 times until we came up with the current design. The case isn't completely finished even yet (the drive-slot-holes in the front panel are going to be stealth modded with birch ply wood and the current ugly-as-hell-powerbutton's going to be replaced by a brass one. The case turned out to be everything I had hoped for:

  • Nice looking
  • Very big
  • Well ventilated
  • Very quiet!
  • Pretty cheap. Only a bit over 110€ was spent to the materials of the case (of course more money was spent on the tools but they weren't bought just for this project (cutter etc.)

Here is how the case looks now:

Finished wooden case.

With the door open.

View from behind.

Here are the specs of my server/internet/media PC currently:

  • 850 MHz Intel Celeron (Coppermine-core) with stock Athlon XP heatsink, no fan
  • 384MB SDRAM
  • Some crappy Compaq m-atx mobo with integrated graphics and sound.
  • Old and noisy 20Gigabyte Maxtor hard drive
  • Self made wooden case with a single Coolermaster 120mm Ball bearing 1200rpm fan @ very low voltage. Attached the fan to the case with rubber "bolts"
  • 300watt DTK-computers PSU with the fan forced to 5V (inaudible and still cool)
  • Hauppauge wintv tv-card

This computer's pretty good for watching movies, too, since it's really inaudible. The case is very sturdy, and the whole computer weighs about 20-30kg (haven't weighed it, but that's an estimate).

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