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Jeffrey Stephenson

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A 4 inch square piece of wood is cut along with 4 small framing timbers.





A 4 inch square piece of mesh is also cut.





This will be my mesh screen mounting system for the left and right (video card and PSU) side panel vent holes.





Glue the four small timbers around the edge of the wooden block to form a frame. Glue the block over the vent hole and cut out the hole.





Flipped over.





This process makes the panel look as if it is twice as thick giving the overall piece a beefier stronger look. I have used this optical illusion several time in the past.





With the mesh screen in place.





Final mesh screen installation will happen very late in the build. I'll do this by gluing in 4 small framing timbers around the inside edge effectively locking in the screen.










Rinse and repeat for other side.



Thanks for looking!
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Cut some 1/4" square timber to same length as 11/16" quarter round.





Glued pieces together to create ledges for 1/8" panels to rest.











Top panel resting on its curved shoulders. The panel's radiator inlet vent hole is yet to come.





Built up a mesh support system on the back of the front panel and cut out appropriate sized piece of mesh. My "system" consists of 14 pieces of wood and includes spacers to elevate the panel away from the box enough to provide its own clearance.









The construction creates various slots and channels to support and guide the mesh panel. 







The mesh panel will remain easily removable during construction to allow for finishing/sanding/painting. In the end the slot will be covered by a decorative element making the mesh panel permanent.






Thanks for looking!

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Cut a significant chunk out of each corner of the internal box to provide clearance for the external covers rounded shoulders.





I knew this step was coming which is why I had previously built up a lot of material at each corner.





Attached the quarter round assemblies to the edges of the top panel. Modified them to provide clearance for the side panels mesh screen mounts.

















Fitted but not yet permanently attached to the side panels.






Thanks for looking!

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Glued the top panel to the side panels





Decided to go with the cut-down bikini back panel. Not as strong as a full coverage piece but I think it will look better. Hence....bikini. :) 





Glued into place. All of these gluing steps are done with the cover in place. The trick is to not accidentally glue two surfaces together that shouldn't be stuck together.





Positioning the front panel.





A step I like to refer to as "Bringing the Pain".





All the edges trimmed and cleaned up.











Thanks for looking!

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Cut some spacers to elevate the radiator plate.





I created three different thicknesses. These are combined in various ways to get the correct radiator height. 


I'm attempting to correct a design error I made concerning the thickness of the stock watercooling fan. My original design created so much stress on the motherboard the I/O plate would pop out. The tightly coiled up radiator hoses were causing a downward pressure on the board causing it to bend. I struggled with shims to raise the plate enough to relieve the stress without the fan hitting the top of the case.


Didn't work. I have had to abandon the stock 20mm thick stock fan and replace it with a 15mm unit. With the extra space created by the thinner fan I was able to shim the rad plate up even higher. Everything fits nicely now and the board bending problem is resolved. Fan performance is the big question now. 








Cut out the radiator inlet vent.





Radiator peek-a-boo.





Built the mounting system for the top vent mesh. A simple frame will do here.





This is the 15mm rad fan I'll be starting out with. It is made by ID Cooling who I believe is an OEM supplier for other companies including Cooler Master. Took three weeks to get this shipped from China. 







Mocking up some decorative elements to check the look.





The lower hole was cut slightly small so that minor adjustments can be made after permanently attaching the decorative hole. To me this is easier than trying to align everything perfectly to a fixed hole. Don't worry if you don't understand. I barely do. :) 



Photo number 200.


Thanks for looking!

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Drove 240 miles yesterday (round trip) to the nearest Woodcraft store. Narrowed down my veneer choices to these two candidates. On the left is Myrtle Burl and to the right is Mahogany Crotch. Yes....Crotch.





The Myrtle Burl is flawless and seems to be easy to work with. The Mahogany Crotch was slightly damaged so I negotiated a 25% discount. It is like a thin sheet of glass shattering at any provocation. How well each negotiates the projects rounded shoulders will be a major decision maker.





I've never used a veneer conditioner before so I was willing to try it. Maybe it will help my Crotch and assist both species to get around that tight bend.





Laid down a sheet of wax paper to protect the project surface from the conditioner soaked veneer. Made the appropriate bend and clamped it down with scrap plywood. A sheet of paper towel is sandwiched in to help with the drying.





Not a dramatic 90 degree curve but it will definitely work. I am currently doing the same with a piece of the Crotch allowing it to dry much longer. It didn't bend as easy when setting up so the extra time might help.





Meanwhile, I installed all the equipment including all my new shortened cables. No magic smoke escaped so that's a good thing. Had some issues with fan blade interference that a couple of cable ties took care of. Stressed the system with some benchmarking and it didn't burst into flames. 


So I really want to use the Myrtle Burl because it is unique and easy to work with. However, my renders have all been showing a reddish wood and that is what my eye is used to. I'm afraid the Mahogany Crotch will finish too deep a red.  I also like the Crotch because I get to say Crotch. :) Any opinions?


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First up is a discovered mystery that hasn't yet been solved. I was getting some serious fan noise at idle that I wasn't too happy with. Tracked it down to the Scythe which was surprising because I chose the Medium Speed model because of comments about excessive noise from the High Speed model. It turns out the problem is with the perpendicular radiator plate. I slid the running fan up for removal and once it cleared the plate the noise disappeared. Very odd. I'm going to sand the sharp plate edges down to make it more aerodynamic. Hopefully that will fix it.
Invested in more clamps. Ask any woodworker...you can't have too many clamps.
I have a pre-gluing ritual where I simulate the clamping scheme. First step is to assemble the proper sized clamping supports. 
I never clamp the actual surfaces directly but instead use a support. In this case I'm using an additional support on the opposite side because of holes and some delicate mesh framing.
This simulation helps me figure out if I can bring the pain in an evenly manner. This gluing operation will be very difficult because of the curve. Professionals use a vacuum pump system to veneer curves.
First step in this veneering job is the inside edge of the vent holes. I discovered that my Tupperware tumbler fits perfectly in the vent hole.
Cut strips of veneer and soaked them in water. Wrapped them around the tumbler and secured them with rubber bands. Let them dry for a couple of days. Later, the same tumbler will be used to "clamp" the strips into place. I prepared both mahogany and myrtle strips because that hasn't been decided yet.
Prepared some samples to do some testing. These have a single coat of lacquer applied.
I'll be doing some masking tape testing. I built and attached a simulated decorative element that will be spray painted. I'm testing two different masking tapes to see if they work well with solvent-based paint and if the adhesive damages the lacquer finish. 
Burl pr0n for burl fans.
Thanks for looking!


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If you are allergic to extreme minutia then please skip this update. People have been bugging me for years to do a veneering tutorial. I have resisted because...well...you are about to find out. I was trained to veneer by professional cabinet makers but the process I have developed over the past 12 years doesn't resemble the professional method.


The difference is driven by the fact that I place no restrictions on my time.



Preparing. Got my coffee (black) and my Jawbone Jambox (Project Orchestra) tuned to the Pandora Steely Dan channel.


I cried when I wrote this song,

Sue me if I play too long.





Sprung the mahogany strips from the Tupperware tumbler. Yes, I'm going with the Mahogany Crotch. I give it a 60% success rate because of the brittle, damage prone veneer and the fact I don't have enough of it to survive an error. Back up plan is to layer the burl on top of it. 





Great photo of the top of Orchestra. Doh! Auto-focus through a hole. Shows the overlap to be trimmed.





Mark the overlap with my 90-year-old mechanical pencil and cut the excess off with my EZ-Cutter. Still left too much...on purpose.





Use a 100-grit professional nail file designed to work on fake acrylic nails. Fit the veneer, file some off, fit, file, fit, file until I get the perfect fit.





Glue of choice. Common water-based carpenters glue. I like my glue to be fresh.





Wet paper towel for cleanup. I apply the glue with my fingers. It is very important to not get any glue on the veneer outer surface because it will show up later when a finish is applied.





Very bad photos of glue.



One of the major problems with veneering is glue bleed through. That is why I never apply glue to the veneer surface.





Tupperware tumbler "clamping" the veneer into place.





View from the underside.





I get about 15 minutes before the glue sets up. I have developed a process I call clenching. I remove the clamping pressure every few minutes and place it again from a different position. Here I have inserted the tumbler from the underside. By applying pressure from different directions the glue gets "worked in" from the clenching action.





During the clenching operation before the glue sets up I take time to sand the gap. This is to generate saw dust and force it into the gap. This helps hide the seam.





Let dry for three hours. The excess veneer is still very fragile and will need to be gently trimmed down to about 1mm. I do this by carving with my razer knife. 



It is important to know the direction of the woodgrain. The grain will either guide the knife blade towards the hole or away from it. Carve in the direction that guides the blade away from the hole otherwise there is a real risk of tearing out a large section right across the wrong surface. Also, the grain can change directions along its length so the carving needs to be adjusted for that.







Down at 1mm the veneer is sturdy enough to accept sanding along its edge but not across it. The underside is sanded down flush to the mesh support.





This is what I'm trying to avoid here.





The topside edge will have another piece of veneer glued perpendicular across the top of it. For these edges I do what I call a Tupperware lip. That's another one of those things I have developed over the years. I take a regular nail file and sand the edge down until it leaves a very small "bump" as felt by fingertip.





This is done instead of sanding flush to the surface. The lip forces the overlaying veneer to have positive contact along the entire edge. This creates a much tighter seal along the seam so it can keep moisture out. That's how veneer fails. Another advantage of the Tupperware lip is that during gluing a finger can be run across the edge scraping glue off and pooling it up right where I want it to be pooled.


And that's it. 
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Masking tape testing. On the left is Frog Tape and on the right is 3M 233. After getting the Frog Tape home I read the fine print that its for latex paint only and not to apply it to lacquer. The 3M 233 tape is the same as the 401 tape. Not sure why they have two numbers.





After a single coat.





5 coats later. The edges of the Frog Tape are peeling up.





The 3M 233 tape came up nicely with no residue. The Frog Tape left a small amount of adhesive behind but it came off easily by just rubbing it with a finger.





Neither tape left what I would consider a clean line. I figured out that it was because of the angle and the paint that was pooling up in the deep corner. I'm going to have to figure out how to fix this problem. Suggestions? On past projects I have been able to finish these items separately and mate them together at the end. Not this time.





Front panel clamping scheme. Pain. Brought.





Rear panel. I have to kinda laugh at people building cases out of 1/2" or 3/4" lumber. Are they building a computer enclosure or a step ladder for their fat aunt Gladys? I shouldn't make fun because that's how I also started. 







The spliced section down below is some scrap mahogany being used as a spacer. A decorative element will cover that entire area.





Sanded with 80-grit so the surface is still very raw. I'll edge up gradually to 200-grit before hitting it with lacquer sanding sealer. Then the fun really starts.







OK so now I'm just showing off. :) This is the lip on the inside edge of the back panel.







Thanks for looking!

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So I have been rethinking my method to finish the wood and aluminum parts. In the past I have finished them separately and later merged them together. The clean line tape test was a failure but I'm thinking that was my fault for not taking the time to do it right. Still...makes me nervous because failure here would be a nasty one.





What I have come up with is a hybrid approach. It's too complicated to explain which means I barely have a clue. Works perfectly in my head of course.





The continuation of the DE over the back edge has always been one of my pet peeves. I hate it when a radio's decoration just stops at the back edge like it was sliced off. I prefer the optical illusion of a continuation around to the back.





Here I have glued together three major parts of the DE. I did this "on frame" so it would be a perfect fit. The trick was to not glue it permanently into place prematurely.





This now allows me finish and paint the edges that border the wood surface. I can't completely finish the DE off chassis for reasons not yet apparent.





The big problem here is the extremely fragile and delicate structure of this piece. I also have to be wary of any added layers to either mating surface causing them difficulty in being reunited later.









I left the lower "layer" of the hole small and unfinished so it could be properly trimmed back and finshed with wood filler and paint. This hopefully will make it appear like a "solid" hole and not one just made up from layers. 





Rough cut the bumpers.





To get the proper curve I used this paint can wrapped in 100-grit sandpaper. It was pure luck in finding the perfect sized can.








Thanks for looking!

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