Introduction: Discreet Electronics Organizer

Picture of Discreet Electronics Organizer

Over the years my wired network accessories (modem, router, etc.) have started to get a little out of hand. Apparently just keeping everything in a pile in the corner is considered "unacceptable." Go figure. So I started looking around at various ways of organizing everything. I came across a few different options such as putting everything into baskets or cabinets, but none of them seemed quite right. The biggest problem I found is that everything I looked at would either reduce wifi signal or didn't allow for enough ventilation. At the end of the day, I decided that I just needed to build something myself. My final design was a wall mounted cabinet with the following features:

  • Pegboard backing for easy customization
  • Open top for ventilation
  • Fabric front for decoration with a minimal wifi impact

Total cost is in the $50-$75 range if you are buying most to all of the materials, but would obviously be much cheaper if you are re-purposing existing materials.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Picture of Materials & Tools

For this section I will assume you are buying all the materials and so the measurements for the wood will be standard hardware store sizes, and I will cut them down to their final dimensions later. If you are utilizing wood you already have, you can find the final measurements in the next section.

Here are the materials you will need:

Here are the tools I used:

  • Drill (I found it very helpful to use 2 drills)
  • 5/32" drill bit (if you are using 3" screws as I do, you may need a longer drill bit for pilot holes than you currently have)
  • Hole saw bit (this is for the holes to feed cables through the bottom. You won't be able to see them in final product and they don't actually need to be round, so you could always cut notches out of the wood if you don't have a hole saw bit)
  • Saw (I used circular, but we're just using it to trim the wood down to size so any saw will do really)
  • Level
  • Staple gun
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps (not required, but I found them helpful)
  • A buddy (helps if you do not refer to them as a Tool to their face). Most of this can be done with one person, but it would be pretty challenging to mount to the wall by yourself.

Step 2: Trimming and Cutting

Picture of Trimming and Cutting

Here is what you will want to trim the wood down to:

Pegboard

  • One 2' x 3' section

1" x 6"

  • Two 3' sections
  • One 22.5" section (my 1" x 6" was 0.75" wide, since this section goes between the two vertical sections you will want it to be 2' - 2x the width of your boards)

1" x 2"

  • Two ~3' sections (I used 3' sections, but see my notes in the mounting section for why you might want to trim an inch or two off of these)

2" x 2"

  • Two 2' sections
  • One 21" section (2' - 2x width which was 1.5" in this case)
  • Two 33" sections (3' - 2x width)

Once you are done trimming, you'll want to drill access holes in the 22.5" section of 1" x 6" that will be on the bottom. I went with two holes using the biggest hole saw bit I had size, shape, and # of holes are all up to you.

Step 3: Cabinet Assembly

Picture of Cabinet Assembly

Lay the pegboard on the ground. Put a line of wood glue along the left and right edges and then place the two 3' sections of 1" x 6" onto the board on their edges. The wood glue isn't strong enough to support the 1" x 6" it just helps keep things in place and aligned until they can be screwed in.

Once the glue has dried a little, put a line of wood glue along the bottom and then place the 22" 1" x 6" on top, also on its edge. I found my sides leaned outwards a little bit, so I put some glue on the left and right sides of the bottom piece and then clamped everything together and let it dry.

After everything has set up, drill some pilot holes and then screw the side pieces into the bottom piece using the 2" #10 screws. I used 3 on each side.

Then flip the whole thing over so that the wood is on the bottom and the back of the pegboard is on top (the wood is only attached to the pegboard by glue at this point so you will want to be careful when flipping).

Drill some pilot holes and screw the pegboard into the wood. I spaced my screws after every 4 peg holes, so I had 8 along each side and 5 across the bottom. I used 1" #10 screws here.

Step 4: Door Assembly

Picture of Door Assembly

Glue the five 2" x 2" pieces of the door frame together. I glued the left side to the middle, then glued the middle to the right. When I went to attach the top and bottom though, I noticed that the sides were not exactly straight. To fix this, I glued the top and bottom to the right hand side and left them unsecured to the left hand side.

Using 3" #10 screws, I secured each glued junction with 2 screws. Using clamps horizontally, I was then able to pull the left side into alignment and secure the top left corner. Using some glue and switching the clamps to a vertical position, I was then able to stabilize the final connection point so it could be secured with screws.

Step 5: Fabric Stretching

Picture of Fabric Stretching

Lay the fabric face down on the floor and place the door frame on top of it. Pull the edges of the fabric around the door and staple into place. I alternated sides and used staples every 2-3", pulling the fabric tight and to the corners. I roughly followed the instructions I found here.

Once all the staples are in place, trim away the excess fabric.

Step 6: Attaching the Hinges and Catch

Picture of Attaching the Hinges and Catch

First, attach the wall side of the hinges (the outer holes) to the cabinet walls. Having a second person help you attach the hinges to the door would be helpful, but I was able to do it on my own. I tried putting some glue on the door part of the hinge and then laying the door in place on top of it, hoping the the glue would hold the door in place so I could fasten the screws, but that didn't really work. I ended up standing the whole thing up and just doing it that way. I lined things up so the gap was the same at the top and the bottom and then fastened the top screw of the top hinge followed by the bottom screw of the bottom hinge to hold things steady, then went back and filled in the rest. The door came out surprisingly straight using this method.

This was one of the areas where using a second drill came in handy. I was able to drill the pilot holes with one drill and then screw it in with the other without having to stop to change out bits.

Once, the door was on, I attached the magnetic catch at the top. I closed the door and held both the catch and the strike plate in place, then quickly marked the cabinet side. Once the cabinet side was screwed in, I closed the door again and marked the location on the door and attached that side.

Step 7: Mounting to the Wall

Picture of Mounting to the Wall

First you'll want to use a stud finder to locate your studs. I marked the studs at two locations, one near where the top of where the cabinet would go and one near bottom. I then used a level to connect the sets of marks which gave me a guide for where to hang the 1" x 2" mounting strips.

Have a friend hold one of the strips in place as you use the level to make sure it is straight vertically and then continue holding while you drill your pilot holes and secure the strips into the studs using 3" #10 screws. I used 3 of these for each strip. Repeat to hang the other strip, but this time you have the additional step of using the level across the top to make sure they are even in height.

Note: the mounting strips I used were exactly 3' which was the same height as my cabinet. It may be advisable to cut them an inch or two shorter so you don't have to worry about matching the cabinet up to them exactly without part of the strips being visible at the top or the bottom.

Finally, have your friend hold the cabinet up against the wall and the strips so you can secure it. The best way to do this is to use a level across the top to make sure everything is even. Quickly drill a shallow pilot hole (I found that with the screws I used if the pilot hold went all the way through the mounting strip, the screw would not securely tighten and would still spin even when fastened all the way) in the pegboard near the top of each strip and secure with 1" #10 screws. This is another area where it will be helpful to have two drills so you don't have to worry about switching out bits. Once there is a screw in each strip there is less need to worry about the cabinet slipping and you can go back and do the rest. I used spacing of about every 4 holes again.

At this point all that is left to do is attach everything to the pegboard.

Step 8: Final Thoughts and Considerations

Picture of Final Thoughts and Considerations
  • When selecting a fabric be mindful of if you care about LEDs showing through. Personally, I think it looks neat at night. If it is in a living room, you may not mind, but you might want a thicker/darker fabric if this will be in your bedroom. Some other options involve using a shower curtain instead of fabric, or instead of building the door you could mount a large art frame onto the hinges put whatever art/poster you wanted on the front
  • When selecting a fabric I would try to avoid one with straight lines otherwise you will have to be very careful when stretching the fabric to make sure everything is straight

  • If you don't want wires showing out the bottom you could put a small book case in front or use a cable cover.

  • If you are renting or are otherwise concerned about holes in the wall, you may want to use slightly smaller screws as 1" screws will slightly protrude though the mounting strips and into the wall.

  • The website I linked to for the fabric stretching tutorial mentioned using special staples made for upholstery work. I just used the staples I had on hand and it came out great.
  • The pegboard kit I used and linked to was cheap and got the job done, but was not ideal. The most useful pieces are the round hooks and straight pieces that slant up at the end, but the most numerous piece in that kit were short angled hooks which I could only really use to hold the coiled wires.

Comments

patrickb14 made it! (author)2015-08-09

I went with a chalk board instead of cloth like in the
instructable. i also stained the wood in a espresso finish on top and on
the sides. The bottom i didn't stain because am going to add a aluminum
chalk tray ledge. I also ran all the power and network cables on the back
side of the peg board to give it a clean look. I really like the
pegboard makes placement easy and has room for expansion. I am planing
on adding on gigabit switch soon because i will be adding Ethernet drops
in my living room and guest bedroom. just waiting for 100+ degree days
to go away so i can handle the heat in the attic. I used a Cordmate Channel Kit to run the DSL cable to the
cabinet and run the cat6 to my PC. I painted the channel kit to match
the color of the wall. I feel the channel kit just adds to the clean
look of it all.

ghochman (author)patrickb142015-08-09

Awesome!

patrickb14 (author)ghochman2015-08-10

Thank you!!! also thanks for the idea really cleans up my computer room. here was my wiring job before and after your awesome instructable :)

SherylinRM (author)patrickb142016-09-10

I like this.

Thanks :)

mrandle (author)2015-06-16

If you can find it I use hydraulic hose wrap for cable covering. It's super durable and you can wrap as little or as much as you need, it's also super cheap. at least cheaper than the electronics version. Plus it comes in massive sizes making it easy to wrap big bundles where as the electronic ones are good for a power cable and maybe an ethernet cable and theyre maxed out.

ghochman (author)mrandle2015-06-16

Thanks for the tip!

SherylinRM (author)2016-09-10

As a renter might I suggest instead to simply place it on top of a short bookcase?

Just an idea :)


SherylinRM (author)2016-09-10

Loved the...

"Apparently just keeping everything in a pile in the corner is considered "unacceptable." Go figure."

I also liked this ible as well.

Thanks for this :)

hyperlance made it! (author)2016-07-01

Thank you very much for this guide. Awesome! I decided to go with a painting my wife had on the wall, which would make the box having its long edge on the horizontal vs the vertical. The picture was in inches, but here in Australia our wood comes in 19mm thickness instead of the guides 1 inch thickness. So made for some interesting calculations. Fortunately for us, the home hardware company Bunnings has a cutting station which is free for anyone purchasing wood. So I had to do some calculations on the fly which worked out well for the most part with it only being out a little. I put those longer bits on the right hand side so not to see it. Originally i had my new Netgear Nighthawk R7000 on the left, but ended up moving it over to the right side because the length of the phone cord was just short. I used three Cat6 cables (2 x 10m, 1 x 20m) to my computer, NAS, and then my sons room (as he plays FPS games and wants lower latency from wifi). I ended up going back and forth to bunnings a few times to get things I always seemed to miss or gotten the wrong size, but final result is fantastic.

IonP4 made it! (author)2016-05-18

Important: This was my first project. :)

I made the door slightly bigger than the wood box, to cover any imperfections when closed. Also, cables are hidden in the bottom corners of the room with those wood "lids".

The phone was mounted inside because we use it almost never (maybe once in a year).

Thanks for this instructable.

darkclaw42 (author)2016-01-27

Love the project, and I may make this soon. Just a heads up, you can get blackout stickers if the light shining through the fabric bothers you. I think they're called LightDims stickers.

kayinkk (author)2015-10-10

THANKYOU BRO..

patrickb14 (author)2015-07-05

am going to do this but thinking of using a chalkboard for the front of it and not cloth

jcommisso (author)2015-07-04

Great design! I definitely need to do this!

Vyger (author)2015-06-14

I used to have a wire jungle, but mine was behind my desk and out of sight so I figured it was not a problem. Then after a 4 day trip I came home to find I had no phone, and no internet. That was a real puzzle until I looked behind the desk and found one of my cats totally wrapped up in cables. She looked like something from the Borg. She was exhausted from struggling and had almost chewed her way through some cables. I had to used wire cutters to free her. Then spent a day replacing cables and lines. She had pulled the phone line loose from the wall then from under the floor. I had to replace the line under the house. How could one little animal cause so much trouble. SO I had to clean up the wires. I mounted everything to the side of a cabinet and used zip ties to bunch all the wires. It's nice and neat now, not in a case like yours but not on the floor anymore. Yet another learning experience.

Dosbomber (author)Vyger2015-06-18

Wow.. does your cat still play in wires, or avoid them like the plague?

Vyger (author)Dosbomber2015-06-25

Well she still goes behind the desk sometimes but it's not here favorite place.

imark77 (author)Vyger2015-06-24

I thought it said cat toy and then I did a double take!

gasjr4wd (author)2015-06-18

Good idea. You could also attach everything to the back of the desk sitting there. Still attach things to the peg board, then attach that to the desk. That way nothing is even attached to the wall... as others said, wiring loom is cheap.

ghochman (author)gasjr4wd2015-06-18

Thanks! Yup, I definitly saw some other options that included mounting the pegboard directly to a desk. In this case the desk is a family item and is fairly fragile. Additionally having to move the desk to every time I needed to check on the status on something or swtich a wire wouldn't be ideal for me. I also liked the idea of getting the router higher up to help with wifie reception.

espdp2 (author)ghochman2015-06-25

Wifie? Maybe that's a typo, and you meant getting better WIFEY reception. :-p

obeh kok siang (author)2015-06-18

Personally when i find any LED too bright or become irritation, i cover them nicely with a piece of Masking Tape.

PuDLeZ (author)obeh kok siang2015-06-24

I don't have masking tape but do use electrical tape instead to make it pass the 'Spouse Acceptance Factor' :)

This guy! Yep, this is what to do.

lfoss (author)2015-06-18

About time to upgrade that router? =P

I bought an Asus 'Dark Knight' RT-N66U dual-band gigabit router and I love it!! It has two USB ports on the back that would allow you to connect external hard drives directly without needing the storage link device. It can also be flashed with DD-WRT although the factory firmware is actually pretty decent. And no, I don't work for Asus. Haha. Great project!

ghochman (author)lfoss2015-06-18

Never! I'm sure the sad day will come when it finally dies, but until then I'm sticking with it. Besides, I'm pretty sure it gets official antique status in another year or two. To give you an idea of how much the storage link gets used, if you look closely, you'll notice there isnt actually a power cord going to it. I've been looking for it ever since I finished the project, but no luck yet sadly.

imark77 (author)ghochman2015-06-24

Over here in the Apple world they call that "vintage", and it usually happens 1 or 2 weeks after you buy it.

mmcateer1 (author)2015-06-14

Looks very nice, I was thinking about doing something like this myself. I'm curious, I recognize the cable modem, router, and Vonage box, what are the other three items in there (one above and two below the Vonage adapter)? I've got a cable modem, router, gigabit desktop switch, DirecTV cinema connect kit and GenieGo I would need to hide.

ghochman (author)mmcateer12015-06-14

Thanks! The white box at the top is a smartthings hub.

Below the Vonage box is an external hard drive and below the hard drive is a storage link to connect it to the wireless network.

imark77 (author)ghochman2015-06-24

I picked out everything but the white box and was wondering myself.

WilliamM30 (author)2015-06-23

A coat or two of paint to the back of the fabric should make it opaque.

uncle frogy (author)2015-06-20

nice idea I will be looking at how to adopt it into my space.

I have an obsession with heat and cooling to that end I would like to suggest a modification. using a "french cleat" to hang the cabinet would make the peg board holes usable for air movement and make hanging and moving the cabinet easier. here is a link to how to make one on instructables

uncle frogy

https://www.instructables.com/id/French-Cleat/

ghochman (author)uncle frogy2015-06-23

Thanks for the tip! I haven't had any issues with heat due to the large opening in the top (it is hard to see from just the front view, but there is nothing at the top between the frame of the door and the pegboard).

zatan (author)2015-06-19

Is there any heat issues with all these machines in a closed environment? Maybe add cooling fans to the box.

ghochman (author)zatan2015-06-23

Nope! I designed it with a completely open top so all the heat is able to escape without any buildup. I'll have to add a picture from the top angle so that it is a little easier to see.

Gosse Adema (author)2015-06-22

Great idea.

I'll probably try one with a photo canvas frame.

Green_Primus (author)2015-06-18

I like what you've done here.. gives me an idea to do something similar to my tv setup.. at present my 38in thin tv is mounted to the wall, with all the electronics sitting on a metal tool cart.. reason will be explained.. the devices are a cable box,ps3 & a wii u.. all cords and power has been attached to magnets and stuck to the back.. using the cart cause my 1 year old is climbing and getting into everything! Your setup makes me want to build a box the dimensions on my tv,

Remount my tv to this box.. but with your hinge on top vs side.. and hide all neccesary devices and cords/plugbar inside the box.. hmmm I want to build this now.. lol

ghochman (author)Green_Primus2015-06-18

That sounds like a good project. Two possible weight issues to consider. In my project the left side bears no weight, the right bears only the door, and the bottom bears only the surge protector. In your idea the top side and front would be supporting the weight of the TV, so you may need to think about how the 1x6 would be attached to the pegboard - imagine you would need to include some sort of brace. Weight may be an issue for the hinges supporting the door as well.

Green_Primus (author)ghochman2015-06-19

Yah of course some over designing will need to take place.. probably go without the pegboard. Not too worried about tv weight.. It weighs nothing! Just a box I can route the plugbar into and some devices (that dont need line of sight) if I ever try this I'll share..

uncle frogy (author)2015-06-19

nice idea I will be looking at how to adopt it into my space.

I have an obsession with heat and cooling to that end I would like to suggest a modification. using a "french cleat" to hang the cabinet would make the peg board holes usable for air movement and make hanging and moving the cabinet easier. here is a link to how to make one on instructables

uncle frogy

https://www.instructables.com/id/French-Cleat/

Dosbomber (author)2015-06-18

A paper poster might be a good substitute for the cloth if you're a poster person.

ghochman (author)Dosbomber2015-06-18

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add it to the note at the end about alternatives to the fabric when I get a chance to do an update.

modern man (author)2015-06-18

Terrific idea, & very stylish. (now to find a way to hide the wires)

ghochman (author)modern man2015-06-18

Thanks! There is note at the end that mentions some options for them, and there are some other options included in the comments below.

immaculatelation (author)2015-06-18

You can paint the wires coming out of the box to match the wall, and pull the excess from the one cord into the box and wrap it into a loop like you've done with the other wires.

Thanks for the tip! I'll add that to the note at the end that mentions the bottom cables when I get a chance to get an udpate in.

DarrenO2 (author)2015-06-18

It does look better, however there is still alot of messy wires (cables) under the wall mounted cabinet. I would suggest putting the excess in the cabinet and using some type of conduit to really enclose any cables coming from your cabinet.

ghochman (author)DarrenO22015-06-18

Appreciate the feedback. There is a note in the last section about the cables at the bottom that mentions cable covers, but it didn't really fit my particular situation. The power cords for the phone and lamp aren't long enough to go all the way down to the baseboard and the power outlet doesn't line up with the access holes in the bottom so I couldn't go straight up. For myself, the project was more about baby proofing than getting the absolutel cleanist look, but if ever does beomce an issue I think we'll end up just putting a small bookcase in front to block the cables from view.

billbillt (author)2015-06-18

You can just put electrical tape over the led's to cover them.. That way you can keep your cool looking fabric...

ghochman (author)billbillt2015-06-18

Another option is to put a layer of cardboard behind the cloth. That way it blocks the light from the outside, but still easy to see them once you open it up. When I get a chance to do an update I'll put that in the notes seciton at the end.

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