Introduction: Custom Project Enclosure

So you have just finished building an awesome electronics project. Now you need to find a housing for it. You could just stick it in a plain plastic box. But project enclosures that you buy from a store are expensive and are rarely the right size.

So why not build your own custom project enclosure. You can save money. You can make it exactly the right dimensions. And it is one more thing to be proud of.

In this project, I am going to show you a simple way to make custom project enclosures from wood.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Here is a video walkthrough of the project.

Step 2: Materials

Here are the materials and tools that you will need for this project.

Materials

1/4" Wood Boards (such as basswood)

Wood Glue

Small Wood Screws

Tools

Scroll Saw Or Hand Saw

Sander

Bar Clamps

Drill and Bit Set

Screw Driver

Step 3: Measure the Dimensions of the Objects That Will Go Into the Box

The first thing that you need to figure out is how big your project enclosure will be. Start by measuring the dimensions of the objects that will go in the box.

For example, let's say that you are working with a simple Arduino Project. An Arduino Uno board is 3" x 2.13" x 0.75." So those are the absolute minimum inside dimensions that you could use to house this kind of Arduino board. If the circuit is going to be battery powered, add space for the battery. Then add space for any buttons or connectors that will be mounted to the housing. Also take into account the space needed for internal wires that will connect the board to the external components.

Step 4: Plan Out the Box Dimensions and Joint Spacing on Graph Paper

Once you know the dimensions of the components, you can decide how big to make the enclosure. I decided that I needed internal dimensions are 3.5" x 2.5" x 1.5." This gave me enough room for the Arduino board, battery and internal wiring. I am using wood with a thickness of 1/4." So that made the outside dimensions of the box 4" x 3" x 2."

With this information, I was then able to work out the size of each wall and how they would fit together. I found that the easiest way to do this was to draw it out on a sheet of graph paper.

I decided to make the sides fit together with simple 1/4" box joints. Then the top and bottom pieces would fit onto the side pieces with one large tab on each side.

Step 5: Cut Out the Pieces for Each Side of the Box

The first step in the assembly process is cutting out the rough shapes for each wall. I like using a scroll saw for this because it is relatively fast and still lets me be precise.

Step 6: Mark the Outlines of the Joints on Each Piece

Next you need to mark the outlines for cutting out the joints. Start by marking a line around the outside that is offset by one wall thickness from the edge. In this case that was 1/4." The easiest way to make this line is to lay one of the side piece on top and line it up with the edge. Do this for all the pieces.

Then using a ruler, measure and draw the joint design that you worked out on graph paper. When you are done, lay the pieces side by side to make sure that all the joints line up.

Step 7: Cut Out the Joints

Next use a saw to carefully cut out the shaded regions on each piece. A scroll saw can make quick work on this. But if you would prefer to work more slowly and accurately, you can use a hand saw. Once all the pieces are cut out, loosely fit them together to make sure that all the joints are sized correctly. If a joint doesn't fit, use your saw or sandpaper to shave it down a little.

Step 8: Glue the Pieces Together

Once you are happy with how the pieces fit together, you are ready to glue them.

Before you start gluing anything, decide on which piece will be the top piece. The top piece will not be glued because we want it to be able to open and close. It may help to label this piece in pencil.

To begin gluing, apply a small amount of wood glue to all the connecting faces of one side piece. Then attach it to the bottom board. Do the same for each of the side pieces. Attach them one by one as you go. Remember do not glue any faces that will contact the top board. Once the bottom board and the side boards are in place, fit on the top board.

Now, clamp all the sides of box with three bar clamps. Smooth out any glue that leaks out of a seam. Wait for the glue to fully cure.

Step 9: Add More Glue to Fill in Any Cracks

Once the glue has fully dried, you may want to go back and fill in any cracks with more glue. Again, don't glue any of the seams of the top board.

Step 10: Sand the Joints and Edges

In most cases, the edges and joints won't fit perfectly. There may also be glue bubbles sticking out of seams. So it is always a good idea to sand the whole box. This will smooth out any rough edges and even out the joints. If you only need to do a little sanding, then you can get by with a piece of sand paper and a sanding block. But if you have a lot of sanding to do, I recommend using a power sander.

Step 11: Drill Screw Holes for the Lid

To attach the lid, I decided to have it screw down onto the side boards at each corner. So I found some small wood screws that were about 1/" long. That way they were long enough to go through the lid and into the side boards about 1/4." Then I found s drill bit hat was a little smaller than the screws. I drilled a pilot hole in each corner to help prevent the wood from splitting. Then I used a larger bit to counter sink each hole. Lastly, I used a small screw driver to attach each screw.

Step 12: Completed Project Box

Now you have your own custom project enclosure. It's that easy. With just a few minutes of work and a few dollars in materials, you can make your own housing that is perfectly fitted to what you need. Now you can be proud of your projects and even the boxes that you put them in.

Comments

author
MechEngineerMike (author)2015-05-27

Anyone about to spend the time to draw a box like this should check out this free notched box pdf generator: http://boxmaker.connectionlab.org/

author
nireves1 (author)2015-03-17

Great instructable thanks for sharing!
I made a custom enclosure for my 12v bicycle under-glow battery!

IMG_5552-kl.jpg
author
pfantastic made it! (author)2015-03-15

Mine is a little simpler. I used 1/8 inch basswood and it often cracked. looks cool though! I put a little bluetooth receiver in there. Thank you for the knowledge!

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author
NathanSellers (author)2015-03-12

Nice little project. Thanks for sharing your idea.

author
Clapoti (author)2015-03-12

Nice project :)
It's not an instructables about project enclosures, but I made some for this project, check it out :)

https://www.instructables.com/id/Quiz-Game-Show-Buz...

author
teddibear1 (author)2015-03-12

Nice instructible. It's nice to see projects for those of us that don't have access to fancy laser cutters can do.

author
deluges made it! (author)2015-03-12

That looks great! I'm about to post about something similar I haven't finished writing it yet. I like the way your pieces fit together. Mine has a transparent lid to add to the geeky effect, so you can see the LEDs and all. The next one I make is going to be more like yours, if I can find a piece of transparent acrylic as thick as the wood to make the same kind of joints.

P1050209.jpgP1050211.jpg
author
russ_hensel (author)2015-03-12

Nice, good to see something that does not require cnc.

author
Imetomi (author)russ_hensel2015-03-12

Great instructable, I'll use boxes like these for my projects. Thank you!

About This Instructable

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Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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