Computer Drawer

33,705

377

73

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).

Share

    Recommendations

    • Sweet Treats Challenge

      Sweet Treats Challenge
    • Faux-Real Contest

      Faux-Real Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest

    73 Discussions

    0
    None
    Pernickety Jon

    Question 3 days 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
    None
    DavidW742

    4 weeks 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 ...

    1 reply
    0
    None
    Pernickety JonDavidW742

    Reply 3 days 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!)

    1
    None
    rbeck1

    22 days ago on Introduction

    Are those egg crates for sound absorption on the wall? Back in the 1960s, My cousin in Dallas, Texas built a music listening studio in a room above his parents garage. We came down in the summer for a visit from NJ and he showed it to us. Every wall was covered with cardboard egg crates to absorb sound.

    1 reply
    0
    None
    frettersrbeck1

    Reply 14 days ago

    The egg crates are there to stop the echo in the room. If you scroll down the comments, I have a better explanation and photos.

    0
    None
    dwebb5

    4 weeks ago

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

    3 replies
    0
    None
    dwebb5dwebb5

    Reply 18 days 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
    None
    frettersdwebb5

    Reply 4 weeks 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
    None
    TJB31fretters

    Reply 4 weeks 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
    None
    rbeck1

    23 days ago on Step 10

    Just ran across this by chance, it popped up in my email. What a great and creative project! I could see doing something like this with an old desk from a junk shop and retrofitting the drawers. A slant front fold down desk would be pretty cool with the display(s) behind the slant top and the guts in a drawer.

    1
    None
    DavidW742

    25 days ago on Step 10

    I didn't make the computer box but I do thank you for the idea because I've had trouble getting at the back of my Debian PC which also runs a CNC machine. It's sort of cosy with the CNC Interface so mounting the PC on a slide box and screwing that to the bench just made it that much easier to access. I even remove 4" from the end bench so now I can get in and poke around at the back. My box ended up being 20" long, 8" wide and 4-1/2" high but the second-hand slides were just waiting on a workshop shelf so it all came together in a morning from scraps at the shed. I even found a brass handle!

    20190118_212616.jpg
    0
    None
    riff raff

    4 weeks ago

    You might reconsider the fan filters, unless you're religious about cleaning them. H-P (Hewlett-Packard) quit using fan filters on their test equipment years ago, because they would clog with dust (duh) and restrict airflow to the point that components would fail. If you change your AC/furnace filters every three months without fail, maybe this isn't an issue...but...most folk do not. Just sayin.'

    1
    None
    BrandonA23

    Tip 4 weeks ago

    Might try adding a magnetic strip and switch to the build to automate the led illumination when the drawer is open unless you have another system setup.

    3 replies
    0
    None
    frettersBrandonA23

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Yes, I might try that. Although I don't need to have the lights on all the time, daylight is fine.

    0
    None
    BrandonA23fretters

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    probably work best to put the mag switch toward the back of the drawer parallel to the mag strip toward the front end of the desk so that the only time the switch trips is when the drawer is in the open position.

    0
    None
    burzurk

    4 weeks ago

    What kind of AUDIO AMP/DAC is in there pls?

    1 reply
    1
    None
    HamdiH

    Tip 4 weeks ago

    I recommend using shielded audio cables. The cables you used are very prone to environmental noise.

    1 reply
    0
    None
    frettersHamdiH

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Very true. They are basic cheap cables, but they are only used for standard, everyday sound. I also have an M-audio sound card that runs through (semi) shielded cables into my Naim Audio set up for music.