Introduction: 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
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:
- One 1" x 6" x 8' board. Have them cut it into two 3' sections and one 2' section (Note - they only had 10' lengths available when I went, which is why the picture shows two 3' section and one 4' section) $8.98
- One 1" x 2" x 6' board. Have them cut it in half to get two 3' sections. $4.48
- Two 2" x 2" x 6" boards. Have them cut the 1st in half to get two 3' sections and the 2nd into thirds to get three 2' sections. $15.28
- One 2' x 4' pegboard$9.47
- Four small non-mortise hinges (2x two packs) $5.36
- One magnetic catch with strike$1.29
- Fabric of your choice (I bought 1.5 yards of 43" quilting fabric) $10-$15
- Pegboard hooks$5.99
- Misc screws (I used 1", 2", & 3" #10 screws)
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)
- 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
Here is what you will want to trim the wood down to:
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.