Easy 2x4 Electronics Enclosures

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Introduction: Easy 2x4 Electronics Enclosures

About: I'm officially one of those people that spend almost all their time connecting wires, typing code, and doing other stuff people call 'boring.' I enjoy working with LEDs, Arduinos, and making things of all so...

I love electronics! It seems I'm always creating little gadgets and gizmos with leds and Arduinos. Unfortunately, most of them are very fragile and need an enclosure.

I've come up with a cool and modern-looking wooden enclosure made from a cheap 2x4!

Step 1: You Will Need...

One of my goals for this project was to make it simple, easy, and cheap; so the list of materials is rather short!

Materials:

  • 1x Short 2x4
  • 4x 1" Long Phillips Screws
  • 1x Circuit

Tools:

  • Band Saw
  • Drill
    • 1" Forstner Drill Bit
    • 7/64" Drill bit (This size really depends on your screw)
  • Speed Square
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Glue Stick
  • Sand Paper (optional)

Step 2: Plan the Enclosure!

First, try to make your circuit as small as possible; it needs to fit inside a 2x4! Your circuit must be smaller than 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall. The length is up to you!

My enclosure is designed to hold an Ultrasonic Distance Sensor.

Once you have your layout planned, I recommend you create a scale drawing in a cad program. I used Google Sketchup to draw and print the design.

After you printed your design, cut it out and use a small amount of glue to stick it to the 2x4.

Step 3: Cut to Length!

Next, use a bandsaw to cut the 2x4 to the length shown in your pattern.

While I chose to use a bandsaw, almost any type of saw will work - including hand saws. Just please, watch your fingers!

Step 4: Cut the Lid!

Next use your square and pencil to mark a line lengthwise about 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the 2x4.

Then use your bandsaw to cut exactly on that line. You'll be cutting close to your fingers; please be careful!

Step 5: Bore It Out!

Draw a square on the bigger block, about 1/2 of an inch from the sides.

Now use the large forstner bit to bore out the middle of the box, staying in the lines. Don't drill too deep, only about 3/4 of an inch down.

Step 6: Drill Holes for the Circuit!

Drill the necessary holes for your circuit. In this example, they're only the two holes for the distance sensor.

Depending on your circuit, you may need holes for buttons, switches, leds, wires, etc.

Please note that your component might need ventilation.If you think it will heat up, drill a few small holes in the top to let the hot air out.

Step 7: Screw on the Lid!

Take your new enclosure, and place the lid you cut earlier back on top.

Then use the small drill bit to drill holes about 1/4 inch from each corner. Only drill down an inch, be careful not to drill through the front.

Finally, insert the four screws!

Step 8: Peel and Sand!

Now cleanly peel off your paper template. This is when using little glue pays off!

This is optional, but it really makes it look great to give it a good, through sanding.

Step 9: Finish!

Put the electronics in and you're done!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this, and go on to make one yourself! I've found them to be rather addicting, and soon they'll start popping up on all your projects!


Feel free to comment if you have any questions, ideas, or to show off your own version. All feedback is welcome!

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    52 Comments

    Looks like a cool idea for a base enclosure that can be built with limited toolset and can be expanded upon as needed for different project needs. voted your project and props for the ideas. Makes an excellent skeleton/template upon which to build or add as necessary for individual projects.

    I'm limited to hack saw, battery powered drills, dremmel, and all kinds of dremmel & drill bits that i could use to create breathing holes and to make a nice 'pad' in the base.

    Seeing your pictures and steps gave me some ideas for reusing some wood spared from some old wooden desks just collecting dust in the garage.

    Thanks,
    nvanbkirk

    1 reply

    I'm glad I could help! Feel free to share some pictures when you're done.

    nice job - seems some people get hung up on holes (or wholes) and/or the lack thereof - please that's what drill bits are for :)

    was going to suggest if bigger enclosures are required stock lumber comes in bigger sizes too - 2x6 2x8 etc

    4 replies

    Agreed. Simply take a screwdriver to the back, remove the electronic bits and modify as your needs demand.

    Great idea! I was thinking of gluing multiple 2x4s together, but never even thought of using wider stock! Duh! :)

    just note that when using wider stock make sure it's been completely dried (old scrap that's been lying around a while)
    framing used in construction tends to have moisture content which could cause cracking when it dries out particularly in the thin sections.

    Thanks, I never even thought about the wood's moisture level.

    on step 4 could I use my chop saw instead (I don't have a band saw yet)?

    1 reply

    Yes, you could; it's a bit dangerous. :-) A hand saw and vise is probably your better bet.

    I love the simplicity of this project! This is perfect for some of the things I want to do. Thank you!!

    Cool idea. I've been using some 100x50 box aluminum with the top cut off and some 50x100x5mm wood ends for stomp boxes. Depending on what you're putting in the wood box, RF signals could be a problem. If that's the case there's some conductive metal paint you can buy to paint on the inside as a shielding (you can get it from most guitar supply places - it's what they use to shield guitar cavities with). Definitely a quick and cheap way of getting a project up and going.

    This is a great idea! I have a suggestion. Instead of doing so much drilling and possibly chiseling to make your hole for the electronics, you could cut off another layer like you did for the top so now you have an lid, a middle section and a bottom. With the middle section , just drill a single hole all the way through and then use a scroll saw, jig saw or hand operated coping saw to cut out your opening to the size/shape you want and then glue the bottom on so that the middle section and bottom section are one solid pice again.
    Great idea and instructable!

    4 replies

    I had the exact same thought when I looked at this.

    That sounds like a good way to make it easier, but I'm wondering if it'll mar the seamless appearance. I'll have to experiment with it!

    Please vote for me in the top-right corner if you want to show your appreciation.

    It would be most easily seen on the endgrain like your top is now. You could paint the ends and you would have to look really hard to see where it was pieced together if you could even see it at all. Use wood glue and clamp it together to dry and clean up the glue squeeze out and it will make a clean seam. You could even mix wood types for an intersting layered look. Pine 2x4's are cheap and easy to find but you can look for hardwoods to repurpose in trophy bases, cutting boards or plaques in thrift shops or garage sales. Even hardwood flooring samples would open up some more possibilities. Nothing wrong with the pine at all, but for some projects you may want a more elegant look. I voted for your 2 contest entries. Take care!

    Thanks, I'm starting to see that these could have a decorative purpose instead of being purely functional!

    I am not sure what all the fussing is about. A bit large? No ventilation? No holes for the wires? EGAD this is a project box. Name a project box you purchase that is finished like you need. A project box is designed to be modified. This is a Brilliant idea. I will use the heck out of it now that it has been thought of. Thank you for sharing this addictedToArduino.

    3 replies

    Agree - jeez folks, it's an example! Meant to get the creative juices flowing. (Seems to be working)

    I like the idea posted herein to cut out an additional slice and cut a clean square with a jig or band saw, and re glueing it to make the internal box. You could make the box really thin walled this way to help with heat dissipation in addition to making vent slices in the lid.

    If you want to take the back off, splitting it off rather than sawing it will allow you to make the glue line virtually invisible.

    Finally someone that thinks like me! ;) Thanks a lot!

    I would enjoy seeing some pictures of your versions!

    Please vote for me in the top-right corner of this instructable if you want to show your appreciation.