Three D Laser Printer Cabinet & Storage




Introduction: Three D Laser Printer Cabinet & Storage

A couple years ago I invested in a kickstarter for a 3D laser printer. Over time I have collected a lot of laser materials. I needed somewhere to store my materials so that they would remain flat and not warp. I came across these two five drawer flat file cabinets in Round Top Texas at the semi-annual antique/junk show. It came complete with a bid package for street improvements in Parker County Texas from 2011. Too late to submit a bid.

These cabinets would be perfect for my laser material storage.

Step 1: Change in Plans

After I placed my laser printer on the top of the cabinets and stored all my materials I started to think about how I might store the laser printer in the cabinet as well. My idea was to convert four of the drawers into one large drawer to store the laser printer and still maintain the look of the original cabinet.

This would also open up a large work area on the top of the cabinet for design and assembly.

Step 2: Drawer Slide Installation

I decided to build the drawer in the top cabinet. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to convert the top four drawers or the bottom four drawers in that cabinet. I designed the drawer so that it could be placed at either location. I decided to initially build the drawer and install it in place of the bottom four drawers of the cabinet. This allows the narrow drawer to be on the top where supplies that I use for design and assembly of my projects can be kept.

The gap between each drawer rail is 1 ¾ inches. If the slides are mounted to a board that fits between the rails then the slides can be installed at the bottom or one row up. The single drawer could then be either at the top or bottom of the cabinet.

A ¾ inch thick board was cut into two 1 ¾ inch boards. These were screwed into the gap between the bottom and the first rail. I purchased a set of heavy duty (150 lbs) over-travel drawer slides. The over-travel allows the drawer to extend beyond the front of the cabinet and being heavy duty they will easily handle the weight of the laser. The slides were screwed into the 1 ¾ inch boards making sure that the front of the slide was set back far enough to allow the drawer front to be flush with the frame when the drawer is closed.

Step 3: Constructing the Drawer

Because of the weight of the laser and the span of the drawer the drawer is constructed of ¾ inch birch plywood for the bottom and the two sides. The back is ¼ inch birch plywood. The front will consist of four drawer fronts secured with ¼ inch birch plywood.

Using a table saw the bottom of the drawer (40 ¾ X 24 inches) and the two sides (24 X 9 ¾ inches) are cut from one sheet of plywood. A ¾ x 3/8 inch rabbit was cut at the bottom of each side so that the sides could be attached to the bottom board. The rabbit was cut with a table saw. A router mounted in a table was used to round the edges at the top and bottom of each side board.

The drawer back (9 ¾ X 41 ½ inches) was cut using a table saw from ¼ inch birch plywood. Two holes square holes were cut in the drawer back for the vent tube and power.

A Kreg jig is used to create holes for pocket screws in the bottom board. Glue is applied to the rabbit on each side. Clamps are used to ensure that the joint does not pull apart as the pocket screws are installed. Immediately after the sides are installed the back is installed to ensure that the sides are square. I used self-taping metal screws to secure the back of the drawer. I used these because I think that they look cool. If you use this type of screw you should pre-drill the hole since the self-taping screw can strip out the hole in wood.

Step 4: Installing the Drawer

Now I needed to install the drawer to the drawer slides. First I placed 1/8 inch scraps of wood on the bottom of the cabinet for the drawer to rest on. This provides a little space between the bottom of the cabinet and the bottom of the drawer. The drawer is then attached to the slides.

Step 5: Removing Drawer Faces

Next I removed the face off of four drawers. A hammer was used to knock out the sides and fronts of the drawers. The drawer front were secured with staples so the staples had to be removed with nippers and a screwdriver after the drawer front was removed.

Step 6: Designing the Drawer Front

The laser requires access not only from the top, but occasionally from the front. So, the front of the drawer needed to have the ability to open up and drop forward. And since the drawer front also had to be secure in order to pull out the drawer I decided to make one secure drawer front and three that would open. Using double sided tape I placed the first drawer front against the bottom of the drawer. I used a couple pieces of card stock to space the door front from the bottom of the cabinet. I then secured the drawer front to the drawer by using pocket screws underneath the bottom of the drawer.

Step 7: Drop Down Drawer Front

I found some Euro hinges that would allow the top three drawer fronts to pivot out and down. Four hinges were used, but two would probably have worked.

The hinges needed to be flush with the top of the fixed drawer front. Several layers of plywood were glued up and then cut with the table saw to the depth that brought them even with the top of the bottom drawer front. I attached these to the bottom of the drawer front with pocket screws and then three screws from the bottom of the drawer.

The three drawer fronts were temporarily attached to the drawer using double sided tape. This helps get the spacing between drawers and the cabinet before screwing everything down. Spacing from the bottom drawer front and the next drawer front was established using a couple pieces of card stock.

A piece of ¼ inch birch plywood was cut, edges rounded with a router and used to secure to the three drawer fronts using glue and the same cool looking self-taping screws. Holes were drilled in the drawer front for the hinges. The hinges were installed and adjusted.

Step 8: Sanding and Finishing the Drawer

The drawer (excluding drawer fronts) was sanded with 120 grit then 220 grit sandpaper and sprayed with satin polyurethane.

Step 9: Cabinet Base Construction

I found that the cabinet top wasn’t high enough to provide a comfortable work surface so I built a base out of plywood and oak molding. As you can see from the picture I used pocket screws and glue to hold everything together. The molding is an oak board cut to 1 ¾ strips and put through the router to round off the fop edge. The feet were made from 3 ½ inch oak stock used for turning on a lathe. The feet were angle cut using a jig on the table saw.

The base and the cabinet top were finished by wiping on Danish Black Walnut stain with a rag. The Danish Black Walnut stain will give the top a more durable surface to work on. The rest of the cabinet was just refreshed with a light coat of oak stain to tone down some of the scratches.

Step 10: Laser Vent Installation

A 90 degree elbow for the vent was attached to the back of the laser through one hole on the back left of the drawer. A flexible dryer tube was used to attach to another 90 degree elbow mounted on the right back of the cabinet. I chose a back exit because I did not want to cut a hole into the side of the oak cabinet, but this may have to change if airflow is too restricted by having too many bends. There was also too much sag in the flexible tubing that caused issues with closing drawers below. It was replaced with semi-rigid tubing.

Step 11: Installing Power

The power cord was routed through the back of the cabinet and through the second hole on the right side of the drawer. A spring was attached to the base with a screw and the cord with a zip tie to help pull the cord back through the hole in the cabinet as the drawer is closed. The tension from the spring caused the plug to pull out of the laser, so a wire was installed to hold the cord in place.

Since the power button for the laser is only accessible through the hole in the back of the drawer future plans are to install two switches external to the cabinet to power on both the laser and the new external filter unit I just received.

Step 12: Finishing Up

Because the drawer will extend beyond the front of the cabinet and the laser is heavy the top cabinet could separate, and the laser would be dumped on the floor. To eliminate this issue the top cabinet was screwed to the bottom cabinet then the base.

I hope that you like my re-purposing of this flat file cabinet.

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    2 years ago

    What a lucky and great conversion. I love how you kept the fronts, and yet I know how little they can store vertically. Good solution. As for the venting, does it go outside?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Sorry for the late reply.
    Vents both inside and out. I received a new indoor filter that can be used for most materials. For those that should be vented outside I have a board with a dryer vent that fits in a window. I have gates that can switch from internal to external.

    Indoor Filter and Gates.jpgWindow Vent.jpg

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the nice comments.
    The laser vents to the outside now. I attached a dryer vent to a piece of wood that can easily slide into a window when I’m lasing.
    I also just received an indoor filtration system for my @glowforge. I will be putting together a splitter with a couple of blast gates from Rockler since some materials should be vented outside instead of through the filter.

    Alex in NZ
    Alex in NZ

    2 years ago

    Fantastic change-of-use! You've made an amazingly cool laser station. Thank you for sharing your work :-)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments.