I wanted a small "open frame" 19" comms rack for my house, but couldn't find anything the right size or for a sensible price, so I decided to make one myself.
The open sides make it easier to route wires in and out and also easier to access the rear of equipment in the rack. The solid top and bottom gives more space for smaller items such as power supplies and wireless access points.
Height: 9U (400mm)
Bill of Materials
- Sheet of 12mm Plywood for the Top and Bottom panels
- 2x 34x34mm x 1.8m Planed Square Edge Timber for the frame
- 2x 9U Rack Rails - Penn Elcom R0863/2MM-09
- 4x 63mm Corner/Flange brackets
- 20x 4x35mm wood screws (for attaching the plywood to the frame)
- 10x 4x12mm MZF-4012 Black Recessed Head Screws (for attaching the rails to the frame)
- 16x 3x12mm Countersunk wood screws (for attaching the brackets to the frame)
- Dulux Quick Dry Wood Primer/Undercoat Paint
- Rustins Quick Dry Satin Black Paint for Wood and Metal
It wasn't too difficult to build, however cutting the week accurately is reasonably important to ensure that equipment fits correctly in the rack.
Step 1: Cut the Wood to Size
The first step is the cut the wood to size:
- 4x 34x34x410mm Planed Square Edge Timber (For the front and back pieces of the frame)
- 4x 34x34x284mm Planed Square Edge Timber (For the top and bottom pieces of the frame)
- 2x 12x556x350mm Plywood (For the top and bottom panels)
I found that the timber sold as 34x34mm, actually measured as 33x33mm.
After sawing, I lightly sanded away the rough edges but tried to avoid rounding the edges too much.
Step 2: Glue the End Frames Together
The next step is to glue to PSE timber together to make the end frames.
I decided to just glue the end frames together with woodglue. I did not use any fixings to avoid having visible screws on the front. It also avoided problems with screws entering the wood in different directions interfering with each other.
I used bar clamps to hold the wood tightly together while the glue was drying.
Step 3: Screw the Top and Bottom On
Once the frames are dry, they can then be screwed to the top and bottom panels.
I used 5 screws on each side of the top and bottom as well as using plenty of wood glue. The 35mm long screws will go most of the way into the timer frame. I drilled 2.5mm pilot holes into the timber frame and 4mm holes through the plywood and then countersunk.
I then filled the screw holes with wood filler, to make the top and bottom look neater.
Step 4: Painting
Once the glue and wood filled was dry, I gave the whole rack a good sanding.
- a course sandpaper (80 grit) to tidy up imperfections in the joins
- a fine sandpaper (360 grit) to smooth the surfaces, ready for painting
I then gave it a coat of a Quick Dry Primer/Undercoat. To give it a durable finish, I then gave it three coats of Quick Dry Satin Black. Between each of the coats, I gave it a light sand with fine sandpaper for a smooth finish.
Low VOC water based paint is kinder for the environment and tends to dry faster.
Step 5: Attach the Rails and Corners
The final step is to screw on the rack rails to the front of the frame and the corner brackets to the rear of the frame.
I used 5x screws for each of the rails - 1 screw in every other hole.
I then mounted it to the wall with wall plugs, using the hole in the middle of each of the corner brackets.
If you try build this and spot a problem or have a question, please leave a comment below.