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Nick Falzone Design - Ikigai

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Meet ikigai (生き甲斐) (pronounced (ikiɡai) a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”

The word refers to having a meaningful direction or purpose in life, constituting the sense of one’s life being made worthwhile, with actions (spontaneous and willing) taken towards achieving one’s ikigai resulting in satisfaction and sense of meaning to life.


Ikigai is my entry into the Cooler Master World Series 2020. It’s a small form factor scratch build case in tower format. 


The case features hand cut wood joinery, hard piped water cooling, and an open component design comprising primarily of Wenge wood, acrylic, spruce and black aluminum.


I'm looking forward to sharing the process and photos of the build with you soon!.


special shout out to MSI for providing the B550I Gaming Edge Motherboard and the AMD Radeon 5700 video card provided for this build and Cooler Master for their continued support.



Build List:

Motherboard:   MSI B550I Gaming Edge Wifi (Sponsored)

CPU:  AMD 5600X

GPU:  MSI AMD Radeon 5700 Gaming X (Sponsored)

PSU:  Cooler Master 650 SFX 

Memory:  G Skill Ripjaws V 3600mhz 32GB

Storage:  Western Digital SN750 1 TB, SN550 1 TB

Watercooling: Alphacool GPU Block and Radiator

Optiumus CPU Block, EKWB fittings and tubing

Fans:  Cooler Master SF360R

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To kick off this work log I’ll start with some basic, non-functional wooden models. While the models might not be functional, they are to scale. Since this is a small form factor I needed to be sure to make use of every MM of space, deciding to go for a tower configuration with a central panel containing wiring and water cooling.








After this jumping off point I refined the model in CAD and made a few more scale models. The details in this case are incredibly important to the success of the design meaning I needed to think about and work out how everything came together before building it, which is not my strong suit normally.


Before I get ahead of myself, here are some photos of the sponsored hardware provided by MSI that the case is built around.

















More to come soon...




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After studying the mock-up and working out some sizing issues, it was time to rebuild it. At that point I also had more of the hardware that I could incorporate. I put the waterblock on the GPU, using the Cooler Master fans and radiator to help see where the watercooling tubing would go, also checking for clearances.


The distribution plate and power supply will go above the motherboard:




The power supply will be visible on both sides; here above the GPU:



Both the GPU and Motherboard will be offset from the bottom to allow for easier connections underneath:




Lastly, the fans and radiator will be on the back panel, blowing air onto the components from the outside:






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The case features mitered dovetail joints, which are trickier than they look. I haven’t done too many of these joints which meant I needed to get some practice in before I went any farther. Luckily I had some cherry pieces in my scrap pile that were just the right size!


First things first, cut the pieces to the right length. It’s also extra important that the pieces are square and straight.




Next, mark the thickness of the pieces all the way around with a marking gauge.  This is the line we will be chiseling too so its important it is accurate:




Next it was time to lay out the dovetails themselves. I used my Veritas magnetic saw guide with matching saw to make the cutting easier.








After making the first cuts in the tails, it’s time to mark the corresponding lines on the other piece. I used my marking knife which fits right into the saw kerf.






With these marked, I cut out the waste materials, used my coping saw and then chiseled out any remaining waste with the help of a wood guide:






First side almost complete:




The last thing to do is cut the miter.  I did this with a cross cut saw:









Once that was done it was time to move to other side. Provided I marked everything correctly, I should be able to put the guide right on the line and get an accurate cut.








Removing the waste is similar to the first side:




To make sure I got perfect miter joints, I made a 45 degree guide, clamped it to the work piece and used this to chisel right to the line:






Practice joints done, it was time to prep the wenge for the real thing:



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With the practice over it was time to commence to the real thing.  chose this piece of wenge because I liked the way the grain flowed and wanted to feature this around the case. I cut each piece with minimal kerf ensuring a seamless look.






Before starting any big projects it’s always a good idea to start by sharpening your tools, especially when the wood is a touch as this. I used my trusty waterstone setup and Veritas guide:




Turns out pencil lines are particularly tough to see on wenge, this made for an extra challenge._B210077.thumb.jpg.0b77ba0d9aff097277bb17632cb7be8f.jpg






With the first side cut, I transferred the lines again with the marking knife:




Next, I cut the other side of the dovetails:






Once they were all cut, I cut the waste out just like the practice joint:






Then I cut the miter joints on both sides:




Time to test fit the joint to make sure we’re on track:




I used the same technique to clean up the miters:




This wood ended up being very challenging to work with.  Seemingly a cross between concrete and charcoal it ate up chisels like they were made of plastic and I had to sharpen them very often.  One tool I used to trim the joints was this combination of a rasp and a planer which takes small shearing cuts:




Overall I think it turned out pretty well.  Below are some photos of the almost finished joints:













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After making the dovetail joints I started the nerve wracking task of cutting the first of many holes in the Wenge.  I did test cuts of everything but you never know when a gremlin will ruin your day.


First up is the fan/radiator holes including countersinks for the socket head screws.  I did the countersinks first with a 2mm single flute bit:








Next, flipped the piece over and used a double flute 1/4inch bit to do the main cutout:








Next, I wanted to lighten the visual weight of the edges of the Wenge so I used a 30 degree chamfer bit on the router table to take down the edge:




Of course I did a test piece first.  The 30 degree angle allows me to save more space inside while enhancing the chamfer's size:




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Taking a break from hand work, I wanted to take some time to work on figuring out the distribution/pump section of the central panel.  I would not have been able to do this without the videos that Alex Banks made for Bit-Tech.  Watching those gave me the knowledge and confidence to try to tackle this kind of thing.


I also made many versions of the central panel that holds everything and the distribution/pump section changed a few times.  Here is the first version I made to try to wrap my head around what was happening as well as  getting the tool path order correct:




I used each version to work out the relationships between components too:




Testing out the O-ring slots with the 2mm O-flute






It wont work unless the other side lines up too:






After many iterations I finally settled on something closer to this.  I would use the CNC router to cut all the channels and holes but I would still need to tap the smaller holes.   For the larger holes I used a thread mill which also took a bit of practice to get used to:








The inlet hole on the bottom connects to the GPU and the hole on top allows for easy filling of the loop and acts as a mini reservoir.


It took a few tries to get a recipe for the thread cutting but eventually I figured it out and saved the settings for later use.  This will accept standard G1/4 watercooling fittings:



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The design narrative of this case was to combine modern CNC technology with traditional hand tool wood working. Step one was making the dovetail joints but I also wanted to bring in some Japanese Kumiko design work as well. I chose to make a traditional Hemp flower design made from Sitka Spruce, left unfinished.


Step one is squaring off the rounded corners left by the CNC router using a sharp chisel.








Next I took some Sitka Spruce stock left from another project and ripped it down on the bandsaw to width.  After that I used a planer to get them all smooth and to uniform dimensions:








Now it was time to start cutting the Kumiko pieces, beginning with a border.






The corner joints will be simple mitered half laps:






To do most of the joinery and thicknessing of small parts I will be using some angle jigs I built and my trusty Lie Nielson block plane:




The angle guide makes trimming the small pieces to length much easier:



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Kumiko Part II


Using a guide I made along with some scraps, I kept the kumiko all lined up when I cut the half lap joints:














And divided up the squares with some vertical pieces:






Once the main grid was done I started on the diagonal pieces.  I used two different sizes of hemp leaf pattern for this:






For the second part of the pattern I needed to cut almost all the way through the piece but not enough to cut it in half.  This would receive angle cuts on either end then be bent in half at the cut mark.  




Then, another small piece can be made that locks it all in place:






After I finished the big flowers, I moved on to the smaller flowers.  I trimmed down the stock to smaller dimensions to better fit the proportions:






This involved lots of little pieces:






And the finished piece.  This got a light sanding but no glue.  The joints were tight enough that the friction held it together snugly.






And lastly, I routed a groove for the fan and LED cables to get to the main cable section:





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