Like most folks, nearly all of my electronics and computer gear--well, the stuff on shelves anyway--was stacked on a shelf with the wires gently shoved behind everything. When anything failed--and something always did--it was nearly always the piece of equipment on the bottom of the shelf. This precipitated the usual round of trying to balance all the other equipment with one hand while unplugging and untangling the cables from the back with the other hand. And also invariably, I'd pull half the cables either out of the wrong component or out of the back of unit they were sitting in.

When I finally got to the point where I could have a [relatively] custom office, I decided that none of the computer equipment was going to suffer from that any more. Components were going to be only one deep on each shelf and i was going to manage the cables so that they were organized and I could get in and out of the cabinet with ease.

Which was easier said than done...

The shelf part was easy; I'd just make sure I had enough shelves and make sure they were installed with pullouts. The cable part was another matter; and in fact the pullout made the cable part more urgent. Just sitting components on shelves and allowing cables to dangle meant that I was probably going to crimp, crease, score, slice or otherwise screw up all of my cabling. I'd seen several cable management arms for rack-mounted equpment; however, they were both way too wide (for your typical 3/4" shelf) and way too expensive (for your typical cheap nerd: me). After lots of design experimentation I finally came up with the piece here.

Incidentally, this is my first attempt at an instructable (please be gentle with me :-). And I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I tried to take them one handed so that you can see me manipulating the pieces; however, I'm not particularly steady when I do that. All of those photos look like a cross between earthquake pictures and something from the movie Cloverfield (and have been--mercifully--left out).

Step 1: Get Set Up

The first thing to do is gather materials and take appropriate measurements. My control arm dimensions are based on two important measurements: the depth of the cabinet and the thickness of the shelf. I'll deal with the second one first.

My shelves were 3/4" particle board with a front trim edge for strength and to make a more attractive edge. So I'm using aluminum C channel that has an interior width of 3/4". Honestly, an exterior width of 3/4" would be better, but my local big-box home improvement store doesn't have that. And with a thickness of 1/16", it really isn't that far off (more on the thickness issue momentarily). I also used two pieces of aluminum 1/16" bar stock--3/8" and 1 1/2"--that I'll cut down for connectors.

The depth of the cabinet decided the length of the stock; my cabinet is 24" deep (actually, more like 23.5"). Therefore, each part of the arm needs to be close to 12" long so that when the shelf is fully extended, the arm isn't overextended (check out the diagram for a little more clarity). Given the number of these I was planning on building (3 shelves worth), I needed 6' of C channel. For the bar stock, I only needed about 1' of the 3/8" stock and about 2' of the 2" stock.

Regarding the connections, the unit itself is connected using 1/8" pop rivets--8 of them per arm. The arm is connected to the pull out shelf using two #8 machine screws and nuts (1 1/4" length). The other end of the arm is connected to the back wall by 4 #6 5/8" wood screws; however, you can use whatever length is appropriate given the wall you're attaching to.

Regarding tools, you'll need something to cut down and shape parts of the aluminum stock. I used a right-hand and left-hand set of tin snips and a bench grinder, but you can do all of it with only a bench grinder. You'll also need a drill with an 1/8" drill bit as well as a hacksaw (or some other tool to cut the aluminum stock) and a center punch and a hammer. And the pop rivet gun, of course.

What about the 1/16" issue? Well, thicker (1/8") would be better but it would make fabrication more difficult. The necessary strength is really dependent upon how much weight the arm has to bear and how often you plan on moving the arm. So if you need a really strong arm, thicker stock would be better ... or using a different metal (like steel). In my case, neither was an option (couldn't get the aluminum thicker and the steel was just too expensive). So far, these have held up well.

OK, let's get started.
<p>for cable ties, cut small slits in the metal and put a Velcro strip through it. Takes up less space and gives you the advantage of being able to change cables easily if needed </p>
Another option to prevent the edges cutting the cables is to use what is called &quot;Grip Dip&quot;. It is a rubberized&nbsp;material used mainly on tool handles, but I think would work great to prevent the cutting of the cables.
awesome post man!!<br /> <br /> they make zip ties with holes on the side to screw in with a small screw and you could mount it that way.<br /> <br /> other than that, keep up the good work<br />
That's an excellent idea!&nbsp;One of the problems with my approach is when I&nbsp;have to rewire. Cutting the zip ties isn't a big deal, but threading new ones through the mounts is kinda challenging given the access. But with the screw in ones, it would be much easier to just unscrew the cut one and screw in a new one. <br /> <br /> Thanks for the great suggestion (and the kind&nbsp;words)!
There are &quot;re-usable&quot; zip ties available now... you are able to undo them without having to cut and use new ones. Saves time and money.
Great tutorial. I just think one more thing would be needed for gentler or more fragile cables. Maybe that foam padding that has the adhesive backing wrapped around the sharp edges in the hinge. Just a thought.<br /> <br /> I would probably use a thick rubber cable to run a pulley type system. to make sure it collapses the same way every time. It's a great idea and I can see a lot of potential for it's uses. I even think it would be cool to hide a channel of XLR cables in a drawer, or DMX channels for lighting controls inside a drawer with the actualy lighting console.<br />
This is really impressive. If I ever get the space, I'd like to build an equipment rack for my systems, as well. <br /> <br /> With regards to securing the cables - why not just use zip ties or velcro straps around the entire channel? Are you worried about the cables sliding along the channel, or just keeping them inside the channel while the shelf moves in and out?<br /> The wire management systems I've seen for servers use this same design, but are usually taller (wider c-channel), so that there is more room for cables. <br />
Great idea, and nice craftsmanship! I have seen these used in large equipment rack before, but they are vertial rather than horizontal, maybe that would help overcome your &quot;beefiness&quot; problem after you load the arm with cables. (Provided of course you have enough room to turn the arm vertical inside your space.)<br /> <br /> Very nice Instructable! Thanks!<br /> <br />
Hey, very cool. Excellent workmanship too. <br /> <br /> At one of my previous jobs there were a bunch of HP&nbsp;servers which for some reason never had the cable management systems installed. The devices looked just like your creation above. I&nbsp;see now I&nbsp;should have grabbed them (with permission of course!) and organized my desk/shelves/etc.<br />
Actually, a previous job is where I&nbsp;first saw this as well. A company I&nbsp;used to work for was a small military lab attached to a major university. One of our projects was to produce this custom vehicle that would instrument the goings-on during military exercises. The vehicle had a ton of hardware in it, but the back of all the equipment racks was a OCD&nbsp;fantasy with nothing but custom cables (each individually labeled), organized tie downs, management arms, ... well, you get the idea. <br /> <br /> I always wanted my stuff at home to look like that... :-)
I am glad that this project has been featured. Congratulations!<br />
&nbsp;That is a really neat idea, good job!
Thanks! Much appreciated!
&nbsp;This is an excellent write up - I'm hoping it will come in handy when the wife and I redo her home office. I think I'm going to try and tweak that for my home entertainment center.<br /> <br /> Good job!<br />
Please post your tweaks when you do. I'd love to see them and would welcome the improvements to this. I know I'm going to be doing another set of these eventually and I always like to make things better if I can.<br /> <br /> And thanks!
going to be very useful for me, but I wonder whether a larger loop at the hinges might ensure the cables last longer?<br /> <br /> Thanks, Peter<br />
Lateral Thinker:&nbsp;I&nbsp;agree completely. A larger loop probably would, and if I&nbsp;could have managed a bit more,&nbsp;I&nbsp;would have. In my case, I&nbsp;had a pretty limited set of real estate at the back of the cabinet (closed, I&nbsp;had just under 1/2&quot;&nbsp;extra beyond what the arm itself took up). <br /> <br /> Additionally, I&nbsp;didn't plan on moving the shelves much. I'm guessing that I'll probably be seriously changing out hardware about once every 3-6 months. Figure that the drawer is going to stay closed for as much as a month at&nbsp;a time--in my case--and there is less wear and tear on the cables.<br /> <br /> Glad you liked it!

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