How to Build a Wood Computer

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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...

Intro: How to Build a Wood Computer

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!

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    29 Discussions

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    snathan2

    Question 7 months ago

    i am like this model can you give this dimensional

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    Cdn Sapper

    1 year ago

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

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    elliotnash

    3 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

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    cruisorusa

    4 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

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    pfred2

    6 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?

    1 reply

    You've obviously no experience with the cheapest computer cases. I have one I swear I've drank beer out of cans with thicker walls! I literally have to hold the case down when I plug a USB flash drive into it. The whole system is too light to just stay there. I measured the sheet metal with calipers and it is like 29 gauge on the scale.

    I have used them before and noticed how they are so flimsy it could collapse very easily. this wood case is quite strong and will hold up well out in a shop environment.

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    Blunt_Zephyr

    6 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?

    2 replies

    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).

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    EwanC

    6 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.

    2 replies
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    jeffeb3EwanC

    Reply 6 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.

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    RandomIdeaManjeffeb3

    Reply 6 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.