Intro: Handmade Plexiglass Project Boxes From Scratch
Ever since I stepped into the world of electronics 6 years ago I have always wanted to house my projects in good looking boxes. But the problem is the availability of boxes. The sizes are very limited and they are of poor quality. The good quality ones are very expensive. So i had a thought.
WHY NOT MAKE IT MYSELF :D
I looked up some ideas on instructables and other places but all i got were these nifty boxes made out of plexiglass and cut using laser cutter. But since i didn't own one i decided to make them without it using basic tools.
They are not as pretty or as accurate as the laser cut ones but they are strong enough and not so bad either. Plus they can be pretty cheap to make since you can use leftover plexiglass.
I MADE THEM FOR FREE
Yup free. Got the scrap plexiglass from the dealer i buy them from and i can make numerous boxes easily.
The first one i made wasn't that good but second one was a big improvement and i know if i make more i will be able to perfect the build.
Step 1: Materials
The materials are pretty straight forward.
1. Scrap Pieces of Plexiglass. Any thickness would do. I used 3mm and 5mm. Link
2. Acryllic glue if it is available. It basically bonds the pieces as one and is very strong. If you cant find it then use super glue like i did. Link
3. Scoring Tool. I used a DIY scoring tool i made myself. Link
4. Sandpaper and a file. I used a bench grinder and glued sandpaper to it. Link
4.Straight Edge. Any would do. Link
5. Tape. Any tape Link
6. Marking Tool. Some fine tip permanent marker would work. Link
Step 2: Cutting the Plexiglass
First of all you have to decide the size of the box you will make. You can choose any size according to the size of whole plexiglass pieces you have. I made a 4" x 2.5" x 2.5" box.
Measure and mark the plexiglass according to the diagram. The longer sides plus the top and bottom pieces will be identical. The shorter sides will be a bit longer due to the added width of the longer side pieces.
Score the plexiglass using a straight edge as a guide. The trick is to put pressure vertically down instead of sideways. Score to about half of the thickness for good measure. Place the score line against a straight edge and apply pressure to the unsupported side. It should snap easily. Give it a sudden pressure if it doesn't snap easily. The score line should be straight. You will learn this by practice. If the piece to be snapped off is too small then sand it instead.
Cut out all the six pieces of roughly the same size. It can be a bit larger but if it is smaller then that can be an issue. So measure slightly larger.
Step 3: Sanding and Refining
Sand the edges of the pieces. Since the score cut isnt straight you need to sand them down. I used my bench grinder with sand paper glued to the wheel but you can use simple sand paper although it may take longer.
First sand the four larger pieces so that they are identical. Place them against a straight edge to make sure they are straight and the sides are perpendicular. This is very important that the sides of the pieces are perpendicular.
Step 4: Fitting and Joining
Use tape to hold the side piece with the bottom piece and glue them one at a time using super glue or pvc cement. Use small quantity of glue so that it doesn't over flow which in my case it did and made a mess.
Once the sides are in place sand the smaller two pieces to fit the side. In the pictures above i placed the side pieces towards the inside but i learned that it was better to glue them to the outside as shown in the diagram of the top view before. I had to do this since i made a mistake and cut the pieces smaller.
Tape them and glue them as well. Overflow glue really is a mess so don't try to make it super strong by using loads of glue. It will only make matters worse.
Step 5: Refining and Cleaning
No matter how hard you try the box will not have perfect edges so to make them better you will have to sand them down so that all sides including the hollow top is as level as possible.
I used clear pieces and had glue overflow which made it all bad and sloppy so i had to sand it to get a frosty finish. The second one i made was white and i didn't over use glue so didn't had to that. Its up to you.
Step 6: Adding the Lid
For the lid we first need to make supports for the lid to rest on. I used some scrap pieces and cut out four rough squares. Then i sanded them down to a perfect square. I glued them in the top four corners a little below the top surface. The thickness of the lid below the top surface to be exact. I filled the lid to fit snugly in the top space. Then I drilled four holes in the corners and screwed the lid on top.
You are done!!!
Step 7: Uses and Thoughts
Well there are virtually endless uses from housing projects to building small mood lamps. The size i made is perfect for housing and Arduino along with some electronics. They are sturdy and can be easily drilled into for mounting. They can be made to your specification .
Its a bit hard on the first couple of times but after you get the hang of it, it gets pretty easy. I made the second one in less than 15 mins. Although made a mistake in gluing the lid supports. But i am certain that any more i make will be near perfect.
The transparent or frosty one is perfect for a RGB Mood Light which i think i will try to make.
Thank you for viewing and i hope i gave you a need idea and helped you improve your projects. Give me your thoughts and any improvements.