Computer Drawer

48,492

478

86

Introduction: Computer Drawer

About: Always thinkering and tinkering.

My plan was simple: I wanted to replace a standard PC tower case with something that would look less obtrusive and allow easy access to components. The Corsair case I had when I first built the computer a few years ago was fine, but I occasionally swap hard drives and found it to be too fiddly and time consuming to do this with a standard case. I had an idea to build a drawer that would only have the essentials visible at the front, with all the hardware at the back, out of view. The drawer must be able to pull out fully to allow me easy access to any of the components. Another important feature would be that the front should be shallow enough for my legs to fit under the desk without knocking into anything.

Step 1: Planning.

I made a few sketches, then used TinkerCad to create a detailed, scaled model. The weird shape at the front was to cover the desk leg. Update: here is a link to the TinkerCad file: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/kBV9ZaNtN4F

The main material would be 10mm MDF as it is quite easy to work with. I don’t possess a table saw so I had to have all the boards cut to size in the local DIY shop. In the picture above, the dark tan sections are MDF and the light tan sections are 10mm birchwood. I had to use real wood here, as opposed to MDF, because the shop won’t cut anything to less than 10cm width, and I needed 6cm, and the real wood was available in this width off-the-shelf.

I planned space for 5 hard drives: 2 SSDs (OS and scratch disc) and 3 HDDs for storage.

The total cost was around €100 I think. The main expenses were the drawer runners and fan filters.

Step 2: Cutting Holes

The next step was to cut the holes for fans, components and I/O panel of the motherboard. Using the age-old rule of ‘measure twice, cut once’ I carefully cut everything out using an electric jigsaw and then tidied it all up with a file and sandpaper. Accuracy and smoothness wasn’t so important for the fans, as they would be hidden with a filter. Accuracy was absolutely essential for the front panel though, with no room for error - the components had to fit perfectly.

Step 3: Assembly

I then glued the sections together, piece by piece. I made the front and back sections separately and stuck them together later. Lots of sanding was required to get the edges smooth. I don't have any power tools to do this so everything was done by hand!

The metal mounting plates for the motherboard were taken from an old computer case I had at work that was destined for the scrap yard. They are a standard size, I just sprayed them black to match the new colour scheme.

Step 4: First Coat of Paint

The inside of the drawer was painted yellow. Two coats of brushed acrylic, followed by a light sanding and a final, sprayed coat.

Step 5: Front Panel

As I mentioned before, the front panel was most important, as it would be the only thing visible. I had to carefully cut holes for a DVD drive, a card reader (which I later replaced with a 4 port USB hub), an external amplifier (Amptastic Mini 1), a power button and LED light. The power button was a bit of a challenge, as I had to drill a 10mm hole and then carefully sand down a 10mm wooden dowel so that it could move freely within the hole. My first attempt at the LED hole was off-centre, so I had to fill it, sand it and start again. The LED and power switch were also taken from the abandoned old computer.

Step 6: Joining Sections Together

The outside of the drawer was then painted with a few thin coats of black acrylic paint. The final coat would be added later.

Both sections were then glued and screwed together and strengthened with a piece of L-shaped plastic.

Step 7: Final Coats of Paint

Now the piece was complete, I sprayed the final 2 coats of black paint, after carefully masking off the inside to avoid spraying over the yellow interior. You’ll notice that the top is a bit ugly - this wasn’t important as I added a strip of black draught excluder to fill the gap between the drawer and the underside of the desk.

Step 8: Drawer Runners

The next thing was to add the drawer runners. I was able to do a ‘test run’ with this as the current desktop was later to be replaced with a bigger one. This turned out to be important as I made some minor improvements on the final version.

Step 9: Adding the Components

The drawer was finished. I tested that everything worked properly before adding it. I then simply screwed all the components in place, thankful that my careful measuring was accurate. Everything fitted and worked perfectly.

As requested, here is a list of the computer components:

Intel Core i7 4770

Cooler Master RR-212E-16PK-R1 CPU cooler

4x ARCTIC F12 - 120 mm Low Noise Case Fan

ASUS H87-PRO Motherboard

4x 8GB Corsair DDR3 1600 Mhz RAM

Be Quiet Pure Power L8 530W PSU

Asus Nvidia GeForce GT 640 2GB GDDR3 (passive)

SanDisk Ultra II 250GB SSD (boot drive)

Crucial MX300 250GB SSD (scratch disc)

3x WD Blue 1TB HDD (storage drives)

Still to come: I'll take a close up of how the hard drives are fitted.

Step 10: Final Steps

I eventually built a new desktop to hold the drawer; a lovely piece of maple veneered board measuring 360cm x 90cm. More than enough space to house my toys.

I am very happy with the result, it fulfilled all my wishes. It is very discreet and allows me to access the computer parts simply by pulling out the drawer. I also added a battery powered strip of LED lighting to illuminate the inside.

In case you are wondering, the main monitor is a Dell UP2716D 27" QHD (2560x1440) (a beautiful bit of kit) and the side monitors are Dell S2218M 22" HD (1920x1080).

1 Person Made This Project!

Recommendations

  • Puzzles Speed Challenge

    Puzzles Speed Challenge
  • CNC Contest 2020

    CNC Contest 2020
  • Secret Compartment Challenge

    Secret Compartment Challenge

86 Discussions

0
dwebb5
dwebb5

1 year ago

Very nice. I want to do this, but I want ALL of the I/O ports up front.

0
Syncubus
Syncubus

Reply 7 months ago

ALL of the I/O ports would be quite a tangle coming out of the front of your desk. Some components (drives are a good example) aren't necessary to be banging-your-elbows-on-convenient. Good cable management and planning for what is 'necessary' makes for a much cleaner, more managable look.

0
dwebb5
dwebb5

Reply 1 year ago

I often change the components to test/try out. Several keyboards, MICE , headphones, and even monitors. I currently have my tower turned around because I change the monitor more often than I put in a CD, or even turn the thing off !

0
fretters
fretters

Reply 1 year ago

I don't think that would work I'm afraid, as the ports are all on the motherboard, and all the bulky components are attached to the motherboard. The drawer would basically have to be reversed, resulting in a huge front panel, which is exactly what I wanted to avooid.

1
TJB31
TJB31

Reply 1 year ago

This is an awesome tutorial.

That would be pretty challenging. Perhaps if you mainly wanted all the USB ports up front then you could use several panel-mount USB extensions, if those exist. Then just don't have any I/O at the back of the drawer. I see few reasons why anyone would want their video ports to be up front, but I'd imagine you could get extension cables for those as well.

You could also create your own PCB with all the connectors on it, such as USB input and a PCB mount USB jack, then run cables from the PCB to the connectors on the MOBO I/O. Then create an I/O plate for it, like the MOBO has for the rear I/O.

It's possible but difficult

0
DavidW742
DavidW742

1 year ago

I spend far too much time struggling around the back of my PC even to taking a photograph so I could locate Audio Out etc. This has triggered two thoughts for my situation, one to simply mount the PC on runners so I could readily move it forward or secondly build a box like yours where the back comes out of the accessible LHS. My workshop even has a couple of slides pending deployment, mind it took a while to find them and they did need dusting off! As for lights ...

0
Syncubus
Syncubus

Reply 7 months ago

As an old-school tech, I used to carry a folding compact mirror (like ladies use for checking their makeup). It'll save you some twisted neck positions under a counter reading ports behind a PC.

Of course, there are 'mirror' phone apps, these days, so actual glass mirrors aren't as necessary..

0
Pernickety Jon
Pernickety Jon

Reply 1 year ago

Me too; computers are made back-to-front as far as I'm concerned. I'm starting to think some sort of rack on drawer runners hung underneath the desk might be feasible. Sadly, I don't have room for the drawer idea (which is excellent!)

0
EdBet
EdBet

7 months ago

You did a fantastic job and inspired me to do the same in my home computer room. I do have a few questions about the setup. I am a retired woodworker living in the Philippines and I understand all you did with the drawer construction. Also, from the pictures, I can see basically how you mounted everything. Did you run the cables out the bottom of the drawer. i.e. video, speakers, Ethernet, or antenna for wi-fi or bluetooth,etc? Did you use a wireless keyboard and mouse? My biggest question concerns the computer. How do you keep your boot disk from filling up. How do you redirect files etc. to the other storage drives. I have a tower computer I built with a 1 and 2TB Hdd and constantly have to copy the photos and videos from one to the other since the pictures and video directories are created at installation of windows. How do you set up 5 drives to run autonomously, or maybe I should say automatically? Thanks for any help you can give me. Great job. edbet869@msn.com

0
fretters
fretters

Reply 7 months ago

Thanks for the comments. I seem to be getting a few more views recently after I was tagged in another project.
To answer your questions: all cables come out of the back of the computer, most via the I/O panel on the motherboard, but the cables to and from the mini amp come through a small hole that I cut in the back of the case. I've attached a photo which hopefully makes it clearer. I use a wireless keyboard and mouse as it is much neater and I think a standard length cable if I'd used wired, would have been too short to accommodate the extra length needed when I pull out the drawer.
It's very easy to redirect files to other drives. If you use Windows 10, right click on the folder you want to redirect ('Documents' for instance), then click the 'location' tab, click 'move' then navigate to a new location on whatever drive you want. When you click OK, the contents of the folder will be moved and all subsequent downloads to these folders will be saved to the new location. I keep my boot disk very lean, only the OS and programs are on it. I would highly recommend using an SSD rather than an HDD as they are MUCH faster. Mine is only 240GB in size and is still only half full.

7537.jpg
0
EdBet
EdBet

Reply 7 months ago

Thank you so much, that cleared up a lot. I have just ordered an SSD online, which will be delivered to me in about a week. I will then place it in my home built computer and set it up like you outlined in your reply. This should save me a lot of time in the future. Thanks again.

0
Syncubus
Syncubus

Reply 7 months ago

Edbit, here is a somewhat more detailed overview of configuring default folders in Windows[10]. Similar settings can be configured in earlier Windows versions.

0
Dj-EmirS
Dj-EmirS

7 months ago

Just visited family down in Texas and they definitely need something like this they have a huge server they put together but the computer wires and guts are everywhere. I was just thinking they need to build something to organize their computers and low and behold I found this instructables article in my email LOL. - www.djemir.com

0
pkirkey
pkirkey

7 months ago

This is sweet on so many levels I can't begin to tell you how much I like it. I would love to see The Husband adapt your design to that totally uncleanable space we call His Lab, and maybe to all the AV crapola that has overrun our living room. I'm so done with exposed computer guts. However, hell could freeze over while I wait so it looks like I may have to tackle this job myself. Lucky for me there is a fully kitted out woodworking shop right under my kitchen and I know how to use most of the stuff in it. I love your whole space, right down to the functional wall art. It must be a joy to work in it.

0
RafaNog
RafaNog

1 year ago

Great Job!

0
Pernickety Jon
Pernickety Jon

Question 1 year ago

This is a beautiful combination of form and functionality. Well done!

Do you know if standard hard drives (not the SSD type) need to be horizontal? My lazy interpretation of your idea is to mount my PC tower on its side under the desk. Would that work? (I'm assuming that the DVD drive needs to be horizontal but that could be sorted by using an external DVD drive.)

0
Surferj
Surferj

Answer 1 year ago

Both HDD and Optical drives can be mounted in vertical position. For the HDD you don't need to do anything special but, for the optical drives in some models you have to pull some kind of lashes that are inside the tray and some others will work just fine without doing anything.

0
DewanaW
DewanaW

Question 1 year ago

Did you use the parts from for computer to pit in the drawer? I'm trying something similar and don't know if it better to buy a refurbished desktop or get new parts to put in.