Introduction: 19 Inch Communication Rack, IKEA Lack

A 8U, 19 inch rack cost about US$2000, it is a big over expensive for how, but with a minimum budget and effort, about a US$70 and a rainy Sunday, something quite similar could be achieved. KISS, Kit it Simple Stupid was the strategy because the idea was not to copy a commercial 19 inch in all its features but to spend as less time and money for the most efficient result, using simple and a minimum numbers of tools. Purist will say I could I done better, yes, but that was not the goal

A Sketchup model, 95% correct can be find here

The tool you will need:

  • Some threaded Inserts to fix your components
  • Super glue
  • one 6 mm drill bit, for metal preferably
  • A 6mm hexagonal key
  • A jigsaw, electric or manual, I used manual
  • Some sand paper

The material:

  • An IKEA Lack side table costing about US$9 (12 Singapore dollars).
  • About 1 sqm of 6 mm plywood
  • "L" shape aluminium profile, about 20mmx20mmx1.5mm, 5 meters long.
  • 2x Plexiglass sheet 1.5mm thick, 450mmx450mm, 450mmx180mm (optional)
  • 36x small magnets
  • 8x PLT Insert nuts
  • 8x blots
  • A spray can of mat black paint (optional)
  • One day work
  • A computer cooling fan (optional)
  • A 12 volts power supply (optional)
  • A multi-socket power ramp

Step 1: Mount the Table

5 minutes. Just insure that the legs of the table are well aligned with the border of the table top or you will encounter difficulties later

Step 2: Drill the Component Holes and Fix the Nuts and Blots

In my model I need the place for 2x 1U component for a KVM switch and a 24 ports patch panel.

Drill the holes for front plate of the components., size will depand on the Insert nuts you will use. I recommend using a steel drill bit not a wood one as it will give you a better stability and precision in the very flimsy material of the Lack table (on the photo you can see that one hole is not aligned, I have to drill again at the other side of the table). Screw the PLT Insert nuts but be carefull, the table leg material is about on 3mm or 4mm thick. You will have to surface and paint the holes (I used a permanent black pen)

Should you use "heavy" components the material will be too fragile to support the weight so I use the aluminium profile to create rails. The front screws are only there to prevent the components being pushed out by the cables.

Step 3: Cut and Fix the Alumium Rails and Guides

Cut the L shape aluminium profile. You will need 10x 450mm, 2x 440mm

1U = 44mm, so fix the rails accordingly. 45mm is a must. I use 4 levels and fix my rails, from the top, at 1) 45mm, 2) 90mm, 3) 180mm and 4) 360mm. 3) and 4) are for non rackable component but it cost nothing fixing the rail at a Un level for future use. These are the 450mm ones

I intendent to screw the rails in the legs but I discovered that the material is so flimsy that the screws don't really work. So I use super glue and it worked like a charme. The only difficulty is to put the rail in place the first time as the super glue will not give you the time to adjust the position. No tips here, just good luck. the bonding is very strong after just few seconds.

Fix the 440mm perpendicular to the 1) and 2). These two guide will be use to support and fix the cables from the KVM and patch panels

Fix the tow left 450mm spare inside the back legs to support the power ramp, space them as required by the ramp size

Step 4: Side and Front Panels

Cut 2 x 450mm x 450mm panel and 1x 90mm x 450mm in the plywood. The two large panels will be used for the back and one of the side (the right one for me), the small one for the front. Note that the geometry of this cheap table leave some space for interpretation, you maybe have to adjust the panels. Taking the measurement directly on the table may help, but don't forget to indicate the in/out-top/bottom back/side.

Cut 1x 450mmx450mm and 1x 450mm x 180mm in the plexiglass. It will be used to see from the side and front your components that are not rackable.

Cut a hole in the side wood panel and fix the cooling fan. I am living in Singapore it is hot here, but maybe the fan will be option in Alaska. Cute a hole at the bottom of the side panel to give way to the cables than will go in and out the rack. Paint the wood panels according to your artistic taste. Fix the fan.

Step 5: Panels Fixation

I used small magnet to fix the panels.

Cut 18x 20mm long brackets from the L shape aluminium profile.

Glue the magnets on the brackets, it is easier to do it before gluing the brackets on the table (contrary to what I show on the photo). Stack the matching magnet on the bracket. The Glue the brackets at the corners of the side you will fix the panels and the where you will fix the front panel.

To adjust and glue the magnets on the panel it is pretty easy. Just put the super glue on the staked magnet put the panel in place and press. Excepted if you have four hands, some help will be welcome.

Step 6: Rocker Switch

I installed a power switch on the front. It is optional but nice to have. Just bu careful not to cut the hole too close from the top. The table leg is mostly hollow but not for the first to 35mm. So cute the hole at 40mm from the top or you will not be able to insert the switch. As you can see on the photo, I had to patch the hole.

Step 7: Shelfs

Cut 2x 450mm x 350mm piece for the two selfs. 350mm only to allow passing the cables.

Step 8: Fix the Power Ramp and the 12V Power Supply

Nothing special here. I use the 12v for the cooling fan and the KVM.

Done. Time for the boring patch panel cabling operation, that's another task.