How to Build a Wood Computer

37,276

145

23

Introduction: How to Build a Wood Computer

About: I have a very broad interest in all things electrical and mechanical. Especially with automation and robotic machines. I'm constantly thinking of things to design and build. I have built several CNC machines...

In this instructable I will show you pictures of how I built a computer tower out of wood. I am starting a CNC wood sign carving business and it would be great to have a laser to engrave and cut signs for customers. I needed to upgrade to a better computer for my cnc router and thought of making it out of wood. Here is an overview of how I did it...

Tools and Materials Used:
V carve pro software
CNC router
Table saw
X acto knife
(1)2x4ft sheet, 3/16in birch plywood
(1) 2x2ft sheet, 3/16in birch plywood
150 and 400 grit sandpaper
Enamel Paint
Natural color Velvit oil
CA instant super glue or wood glue
Small wood screws


Desktop Computer parts I used:
(1)Motherboard, ECS A780LM-M AM3 Motherboard
(1)Processor and cooling fan, AMD Athlon ll X3 3.1gHz and Thermaltake AM3 Cooler fan
(1)RAM Memory, Crucial 2048MB DDR3
(1)Harddrive, Western Digital 40GB (I had this laying around)
(1)Power Supply, Theraltake 420W (I had this laying around)
(1)Ultra 20 to 24 pin power supply adapter
(1)Parallel port adapter cable, Routes parallel port from motherboard to back panel(for CNC router. I had this laying around)

Total cost:
$160
Time to complete:
5hrs

Buy the computer parts:
Tiger direct sells computer parts and kits. The parts list shows what I used and a few parts that I laying around the shop.

Design and layout:
I designed the tower using V carve pro and saved the tool paths.
Important: Check to make sure the openings in the back will match with the parts you use. I made a few mistakes but I was able to fix them before it was too late. This is the place to check and double check measurements! 
The panels will fit together like a puzzle and make a nice sturdy and lightweight box.

Cutting wood:
Next it was cut on my cnc router using a 1/4in endmill and 60 deg v bit. Cutting goes really fast.
Important: I used an upcut endmill(chips get pulled up and out of work). It left a lot of rough edges on the plywood and took extra time to sand out. Go with a downcut bit and save time and sandpaper :)

Fitting, Gluing and Sanding:
Important: Fit all the pieces before gluing! Take the x acto knife and trim the tabs along the profile of each part. Sand all the rough edges and openings to make sure there are no splinters. Once it fits good use a good quality wood glue or instant super glue on the parts.
Important: Leave the left panel unglued so you can get all the parts inside. Instead of glue use screws to fasten it to the tower.

Paint and finish:
Paint the letters and finish the inside and outside completely so it doesn't soak up moisture.

Install the parts:
Now its time to put all the computer parts inside. Follow the instructions tha come with the motherboard and each part carefully since each one is slightly different.

Done!
Install the OS of your choice and enjoy your new green computer!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Hurricane Lasers Contest

Participated in the
Hurricane Lasers Contest

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Sculpting Challenge

      Sculpting Challenge
    • 3D Printed Contest

      3D Printed Contest

    23 Discussions

    0
    snathan2
    snathan2

    Question 2 years ago

    i am like this model can you give this dimensional

    0
    Cdn Sapper
    Cdn Sapper

    3 years ago

    I find the wooden shell very unique and attractive to look at.

    0
    elliotnash
    elliotnash

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really interesting idea. However I have to ask, isn't it dangerous that the wood might catch fire if the computer overheats?

    Great innovation, but I have one question about this new design.

    The wood is a powerful isolating thermal. This design could drive a accumulate heat into the cabinet despite of cooler is working. Have a concern about that

    0
    cruisorusa
    cruisorusa

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hello,

    What a great project. Would it be possible to acquire the VCarve files. Sure would same a lot of time!!

    Thanks,

    Lee

    0
    pfred2
    pfred2

    7 years ago on Introduction

    You should have got an atom for your LinuxCNC machine. They don't really need cases. Most folks mount them in their driver boxes. Atoms score about 5000ns for latency which should satisfy most folks. Although some AMDs do run faster. Does yours?

    0
    backyard_barnstormer
    backyard_barnstormer

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    its at less than 2300ns. i didnt know they made atom computers. i learn something new all the time :)

    0
    Blunt_Zephyr
    Blunt_Zephyr

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Had a concern about electrical grounding. On most cases, the metal you mount your hardware on is grounded to the case of the PSU and out the 110v groundwire. With this setup, I do not see anywhere for electrical surges/shorts to go if the mobo/add-on cards, dvd, hdd/sdd has an issue.
    Would this be an issue?

    0
    backyard_barnstormer
    backyard_barnstormer

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Actually it is not a problem. Every part inside has a ground wire back to the PS and the earth ground is connected to each of the ground wires inside. The PS also has built in short circut protection to keep from frying components. The main reason the tower is made of steel is to block EMF(electro-magnetic frequencies).

    0
    EwanC
    EwanC

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great Work and a good idea. The only problem is that the components inside (especially the psu) can get extremely hot and could quite easily set the case on fire.

    0
    jeffeb3
    jeffeb3

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sorry but that is incorrect. This setup has adequate airflow, in the recommended atx pattern (In lower, front, out, through the PSU). Also, unless there is a short, there is no way the electronics will reach the heat required to burn wood (about 300 degrees C). Typically the hottest part of a computer is the processor, and warnings for dangerous CPU temperatures is usually around 70 degrees C. Hopefully we will see some creative wooden computer cases in the future. I really like them.

    0
    RandomIdeaMan
    RandomIdeaMan

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Does it dissipate heat well though? Weed is a better insulator for heat than a conductor. I would worry that even with the airflow the case usually acts as a bit of a heat sync, and aids in the cooling a bit.

    But then, depending where you live that might not be a problem, if it doesn't get hot enough as an ambient temperature to cause your cooling system to work too hard.

    Very nice work on the case.

    0
    backyard_barnstormer
    backyard_barnstormer

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    yep the processor will shut down before that temp to prevent any damage. its not really a concern for me. the only thing that could be an issue is that the case does not block emf, but so far its been good.

    0
    dekonick
    dekonick

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Just a couple of ideas - If you want to keep it all wood, put 2 strips under the hard drive so you can screw it down, but allow airflow under the HD. Another consideration : add a fan hole to the front at the bottom to pull air inside the case to improve airflow. You can also put a spacer on top for the power supply (like the hard drive) to allow airflow, with a fin blowing air OUT top.

    Neat idea! (I have had a wooden PC case and it holds more heat than a typical aluminum or steel case... but easy enough to solve with shims, spacers, and fans...)

    0
    dekonick
    dekonick

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    typo's - add a fan to the front ventilation hole... pull air in... and a top blow hole for air out. This system doesn't look like it will generate a ton of heat anyway, but a cool hard drive = a longer lasting hard drive. If it is just running your CNC, perhaps a small SSD instead of a hard drive? The 120GB and under SSD's are cheap now...