Intro: Electronics Components Storage
Electronics is great fun, but you do end up with lots of different types of components which need to be stored individually.
I kept mine in a series of small plastic divided cases (Tactix brand), but the cases themselves were getting a bit out of control.
I liked J-Po's cabinet design but my cases had slightly curved edges which meant that they would not be held securely by the method J-Po had used.
Jesper75 had built a cabinet for the same style of cases, but I didn't want to have to cut, paint and fit the number of shelves which I would have required.
The requirements for my solution were to have as little space between the cases as possible and to use timber which I already had.
I decided to use aluminium extrusion to make holders for the cases, and since it would have been annoying to fit these once the carcass was assembled, I also decided to finish the surface before assembly. Unusual, and probably not an experiment which I will repeat, but a method which worked "well enough."
Step 1: Uprights
Starting with the thicker (18mm) piece of spare ply, I needed seven cases to store the 2% resistor series which was the largest range of one type of component, so the columns had to be at least that high.
I decided on having three columns of cases, which means four uprights. I cut the outside uprights about half an inch deeper so that the back of the carcass could be recessed.
The third picture shows some thin hardwood strips (saligna) which I'd cut a few years ago. I glued those to what would be the exposed front edge of the plywood using ordinary PVA (Elmer's glue) and (as you can see from the fourth picture) lots of clamps.
Trimming the excess of the hardwood facing was done using a router with an edge-following bit. I usually tried to go just a little proud of the edge to avoid damaging the ply.
Once the router had taken most of the overhang off, I used a small plane to get the saligna absolutely flush, and then cleaned up the crossgrain overhang with an xacto saw.
Step 2: Top and Bottom
I only had 7mm structural ply for the top and bottom, but I also had two smaller, mismatched pieces of very thin ply with different facing layers.
As you can see from the left hand edge of the piece in the third photograph, this proved difficult to cut with the circular saw.
Laminating the pieces took a lot of glue and a lot of clamps.
While I used the same technique to apply a facing laminate of saligna to the edge of the joined board, this time I remembered the trick of protecting the timber surface from the follower bearing on the router bit by using masking tape.
The last two photographs show me concealing the crimes of the slipping saw by covering the damaged rear edge of the top with another strip of saligna. It actually ended up looking OK, so phew.
Step 3: Cutting the Aluminium Supports
The cases are not very heavy, but I still chose 3mm thick aluminium, 30x30mm extrusion. I bought ten metres which was about a hundred bucks.
Cutting it was noisy and time-consuming, but otherwise pretty simple. I stacked the four sections of extrusion together so that I only had to do a quarter of the cuts.
I wanted a recessed edge to the front to give a neater look, to give support and to ease insertion and removal of the cases. This meant that the right-had and left hand pieces had to be mirror image, but since I decided to not care about the appearance of the end of the slide which would be hidden in the depths of the cabinet, whether that was straight across or angled didn't matter.
Using an angle-grinder and metal-cutting disc (well, three metal-cutting discs) left a few sharp burrs on the edges, so I filed those by hand.
In doing this, I learned that aluminium clogs up files quite quickly. On-line tipsters recommend coating the file with beeswax before starting, but it's easy and quick enough to clean the file with a brass wire-brush. Make sure that it is brass, as the more common steel brushes are said to damage the file.
Step 4: Drilling Screw Holes in the Aluminium
I used a drill press and a 4mm bit, which gave a good clearance for the M6 panhead screws I was going to use to fix the racks to the uprights.
I fixed a piece of 2x2 to the drill-press platform to hold the aluminium against, and marked a couple of lines on it to give a rough idea of where to hold the workpiece. Holding the piece tight for the left-hand hole was quite difficult as the drill-press is designed for right hand use.
The holes were good, but again the aluminium burrs quite badly, so I changed the drill bit for a countersink bit and they tidied up nicely.
Step 5: Mounting the Rails
I wasn't sure how much space the cases would need for easy removal, so I supported a shelf on two cases and shimmed it up until I was happy, then I made a template block of that thickness and used that to space each rail.
Each rail was spaced from the one below, so to avoid any errors building up over the height of the cabinet, I used the template to set the front of the rail, then duplicated that distance from the top of the upright at the rear of the rail.
Step 6: Assembling the Cabinet
The top and bottom pieces weren't squared, so I had to be careful in setting the line of pilot holes for connecting to the end upright.
Once everything was clamped at right angles and the first end piece attached, everything went together nicely, and a quick test fit of the cases was perfect.
Step 7: Tidying Up and Fitting the Back
Once the sides and top were together and checked true, I trimmed the worst of the excess with handsaw, then tidied up with the router, and then finally concealed the crimes with a couple of coats of the same stain that I'd used for the rest.
The fillets which would be used to retain the back panel got a couple of coats, hanging up to dry.
Then they were nailed into medial side of the two outside uprights to support the end of the back panel, which was pinned against them and then held in by strips mounted on the outside back.
Finally, I removed the countersunk screws from the top, and replaced them with nice brass ones with matching cup washers.