Instructables
Build your own clear computer case out of wood and lexan. I started this project intending to build only a simple box, but ended up going all the way for this complete case build. Without the light it cost roughly $30 dollars and, although time consuming, was well worth the effort.
 
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Step 1: Assemble Materials

For this project, you will need:

2x 1.5' by 2 sheets of 1/8" lexan. You can find these at Lowes or hardware stores, they run for about $6. I only actually used two, but you may want to purchase an extra, as they can break if you're not careful. Make sure that what you're purchasing is actually lexan and not acryllic, as acryllic will shatter way too easily. If you look at the edge it should be dark for lexan and almost white for acryllic.

4 feet of 1" by 2" pine or other wood for vertical supports

1 18" by 20" piece of plywood or press-board (which is cheaper)
1 8" by 18" piece of plywood/press-board

1/4 20 bolts and nuts

Punched 1 1/4" aluminum for drive bays; ~10" per 5 1/2" drive
2 31" strips of punched aluminum for drive bay mounts (If you want, you can substitute two more wood verticals, which will save you a lot of bending and having to align the holes in the aluminum)

Punched 1/2" aluminum angle for 3.5" drive bays; 4" per drive

Velcro (lots of it), preferably matching whatever color you want to paint the wooden parts

Spray paint

And the following tools:

Jig saw with fine toothed blade or fine toothed craft (model making) saw
Drill with 1/4" bit and a bit large enough to accommodate your saw blade
Circular saw (to cut plywood)
Sharpie marker
Hammer
Hacksaw
Dish soap and WD-40 (to lubricate and cool hacksaw blade)
R.A.T.M3 years ago
lots and lots and lots of dust that the prob with my custom i have a black lite neon all clear el wier lighted computer with water cooling (coverd with el wier and neon paint) and air cooled i have some probs with lots of dust getting in to it it gets hot in it so i do not want it to blow not after all the $ and time spent in making it
RoninVj3 years ago
you should try bottom mounted power supplies. its less work . >.-
That's exactly what I was thinking.
What magic Lowes department store did you find 1.5' x 2' Lexan sheets for $6? When I looked it was upwards from $30. It sounds like you have Lucite (plexiglass).
FagnerFS5 years ago
Hey, very good project! but, it looks hard to do.
N1CK4ND05 years ago
Lol this is exactly what im doing right now, I have the base of plexiglass, and my mobo is mounted, just need to attatch the sides and top.
cotton5 years ago
no offence your cuting job to accces the cdrom is horrible but the paint job is super amazing
Gjdj35 years ago
Dang! That's so awesome! I want to build my own desktop, so this would really be something I might do. 5 stars and favorited.
I HACK5 years ago
this is a verry good idea , good job, but in some ways i find it to be verry sloppy.
uberinsane6 years ago
I am concerned that the parts would not be as secure or strong as in a traditional $40 prebuilt case.
Raistillian (author)  uberinsane6 years ago
Well, it's not a professionally made case, but that's the whole point. A prebuilt lexan case would cost a lot more than $40.
JazzmanSA806 years ago
Thanks for this. I've been thinking about building my own case for my rig for some time now but I wasn't sure if I would get myself into more than I felt like doing. It's encouraging to see to see someone else's work before I dig in!
frazeeg7 years ago
I believe they make a Lexan glue that actually fuses the edges together, something like this. Instead of using the velcro, (which you might have added for easy of disassembly, which is fine) the adhesive/solvent practically welds the sheets together, giving you a nice clean look.

I've actually been throwing this idea around in my head thinking of the best way to go about it. I'll definitely take your tutorial into consideration when I finally do build it. Thanks.
Raistillian (author)  frazeeg7 years ago
That sounds pretty cool, I'll have to look into it. Part of my problem was how thin the lexan I used was, so I needed the wooden frame to support it. If you had a piece thick enough, you could probably use that to make the entire thing transparent..
I'd try 1/4" Lexan. It's a bit more expensive, of course, but in your case it would be worth it. You could even do away with the ugly particle board backer :-P
phoenix1247 years ago
Nice instructable. i like all the effort u put in, totally commendable! u should join my group: http://www.instructables.com/group/modthis/
happy modding
glyph7 years ago
Nice Job. A few suggestions for a smoother outcome. Instead of the particle board you are using, you might purchase something like a furniture grade ply product. I would use sandeply - available at Home Depot. Sandeply is more capable of a fine finish and takes primer and paint well. You might also consider the use of aluminum channel stock to make a slide out tray for the hard drive and the CD/DVD servomechanism. The suggestion for auto edge trimming on external edges has already been made and it's a good one. To truly finish the edges of the lexan, you should make a sander by drilling a hole in a block of wood, split the block into 2 parts, and glue a 400 grit sandpaper and a 220 grit sandpaper onto each half - make a handy "half-moon" edge finisher. Cut the hole big enough to handle your lexan - 1/4 lexan will require a 3/8 hole. Those nice, polished lexan edges will absorb and channel light for very cool effects. The final frosting is learning to mask the backside of the lexan and paint the inside of the case - the results are a shiny exterior paint that won't foul off which you're moving the computer around. Can't wait to see the refinement! Good Job!
Raistillian (author)  glyph7 years ago
Thanks. I know the particle board wasn't the best choice for aesthetics, I simply chose it since I had it lying around, and it's dirt cheap. The idea of slide out drive bays sounds cool, I'll have to look into that. The sanding block idea sounds cool, I think I'll try that, and I'll add it to the Finishing Touches step if I end up doing it. As for painting the backsides of the lexan, I tried this on some test pieces, and it did come out nice looking, like the black iPods. However, I still want the clear look, so I think I'll stick with that. Thanks for the suggestions though. =)
Fake_Name7 years ago
It looks like all your "aluminium" is actually galvanised steel. Grab a magnet and check it. I'd bet it's ferrous. While you're at it, paint that chipboard.
Raistillian (author)  Fake_Name7 years ago
You were right, it is steel. And I painted the foam board and particle board, with an updated picture.
HamO7 years ago
A big A+ for effort. Nice instructable. Nice photos. I might suggest auto door edge trimming for the rough edges. It comes in a variety of colors and is easy to work with.
brianf257 years ago
good idea. A bit rough, but still looks cool. nice job.
Raistillian (author)  brianf257 years ago
Thanks, I have to do it again someday having learned what I know now. As you can see the front plate cracked a little while I was cutting it, and the top bay is still rough around the edges. I don't feel up to making if for a fourth time just yet though =)
Lexan is hard to work with if you dont have the propper tools. Maybe you can get some sort of edging material to cover up the rough cuts. Another thing i would do is maybe spray paint that particle board black so its not as visible
Raistillian (author)  brianf257 years ago
Yeah, the cuts I'm still planning on filing down, which works pretty well. Painting the particle board is definitely something i still have to do, it's still sort of a work in progress.