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Project: Mission - 2009 Mod Contest Entry - Completed

Jeffrey Stephenson

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I am really enjoying your project.

My question is why you chose to go with a 'Ply' rather than a solid sheet?

Was it more cost effective or have you found that Plywood has certain properties that 'solid' sheets of the same finish doesn't have when it comes to case modding?

My own attempts at wooden cases in the past have suffered 'warping' due to heat, both laptop & full sized towers.

(more laptop tho' which warped all over, the tower warped on top & rear only)

For those I had used thin solid sheets & not ply... hence my question about about having found certin properties in the ply, such as is it more heat resilient (sp?).

Dr. T

Thank you for your comments.

Plywood and other engineered wood products such particle board and MDF seem to have a reputation for poor quality when in fact they are far superior to "solid sheets" when it comes to stability. The fact that they do this with mostly recycled waste material makes it even more impressive but I suspect this is also the origin of the prejudice.

Applying thin veneers of exotic woods over a strong stabile structure just makes sense to me. I have had good luck with this method and it is easy on my environmental conscience.

For my smaller projects such as Ingraham and Pico Bayard I use an aircraft grade Finnish birch plywood that is several levels above the standard fare I'm using here. The difference was that Lowes was open on the 4th of July and my supplier wasn't. LOL

For the record I am not a woodworker or carpenter of any kind. I have several friends who are master cabinetmakers. I have learned a lot from them but they mostly just laugh at many of my methods. :D

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I'm using a motorcycle bungie cord to hold in all four corners while I glue things up.


Breaking out the big boy clamps for this one.


I'm keeping the project elevated until it can support its own weight. I like to break out my old vintage 1941 straightedge now and then.


Scaffolding. I like to think this part of the build is somewhat like building a Roman arch. Everything is unstable and delicate until you drive in that keystone. Large chance for major fail here.


A small, thin spacer being glued up over the edge of the top plywood panel. I'm showing this because getting wood glue on the wrong surface can be a huge problem here. I applied a piece of Scotch tape across the underlying waster piece to protect it from any glue excess.


Clamping scheme for a leg support.


A 1/2" square board starts to fill in the leg and locks the plywood panels into the structure. The legs will eventually be built up until they are 1 3/8" square.


I started work on the optical drive bezel. Measured the opening and scored it with an X-acto knife. Tore out a bunch of the material by drilling a series of holes. Took it closer to the lines with my round wood file. I'll take it the rest of the way with some 60 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.


The back of the DVD bezel showing where I glued up a thin spacer.

Thanks for looking.

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Clampage for segments of the rear legs.


DVD bezel dry fit. Again, a lot of the cross member wood in this photo is temporary.


I need to do some factory work. Here I'm lining up all four side rails to be measured at the same time. Consistency wiil keep help keep things square.



Cut some spacers.


Dry fitting some spacers.


Gluing operation. Keeping everything square.




Result of the first stage.


My micro-miter box setup that I use to cut spacers.



Sixteen more spacers for stage two.


This is not a solid block of wood. I loosely assembled all sixteen spacers together and sanded each end down until they were all even.


More gluing.



Result of stage two.


Finally some assembly. Here I have pulled back the the bottom bracket to show how stuff interlocks.


The top bracket is ser into position.


Both brackets being dry fit.


Finally, all three center strips set into place for a test fitting and photo op.



Thanks for looking.

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Some more test fitting. I almost glued this stuff up but decided that it was too much of a risk. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to extract the case from its cocoon the way it was.


In anticipation of prying the case out I decided to take one last shot in case it was the last. :eek:


I only had to break up two of the waster pieces to free it up. :thumb: It's fairly fragile so I need to drive in the keystone(s).


Action shots of glue drying.


The three vertical stanchions on each side are not glued in yet. They can be pulled straight up and out of the frame rails. I'll need access to the top vent for my grillwork and removing these pieces will help with that. Also, veneering around the stanchion holes will be much neater and easier with them being removable.


Now that the frame is free from the case I can really lay on the glue without having to worry about welding the two together accidentally.



Some of the intact waster pieces that had been attached to the case with double-sided tape are now recycled into building up the frame.

Thanks for looking!

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Project: Mission is named after the Mission style of furniture.

"type of furniture popular in the United States during the turn of the 20th century. The furniture, distinguished by its simplicity of materials and design, arose out of the Arts and Crafts-inspired movement led in the United States by Gustav Stickley. Makers of this type of furniture shared a belief in the social virtues of good design and handcraftmanship.

... inspired by the wood furniture of Spanish missions in California. However, the major impetus for the style was the British Arts and Crafts movement." - Encyclopedia Britannica.

One of the characteristics of the style is its mortise and tenon construction method that I am simulating with my crazy methods. I don't have the tools or skillz to do that kind of joinery so I'm just faking it.

This computer will become my new HTPC and big screen gaming rig. In my setup, the computer sits next to my Laz-E-Boy recliner and by default becomes a table top. The premium placement for exhaust fans in a computer is at the top but this interfers with imy premium pilsner lager placement scheme. My solution: Create a double topped case with a working table top mounted directly over, and protecting, a case exhaust deck.

The design is loosely inspired by a mission-style entertainment stand sold by LL Bean.

My idea is to conceal the entire case except for the back of it . This "internal computer housing" would be self-contained and be withdrawn when needed by simply pulling it out the back of the shell as if it were a large cartridge.

The design of the black walnut framework was set but I couldn't decide what the actual covering panels would be. Different options were bird's eye maple, brushed aluminum, vintage speaker fabric, acrylic, modder's mesh, on and on. What I decided was to defer the decision by designing in a removable panel system that could be swapped out for different styles of panel materials. The whole purpose of the "waster pieces" was to reserve space during construction for later installation of these panels. My intention is to build at least two different styles of panel for this project. One of them will probably be some sort of fabric covered panel.

Blah, blah, blah

Back to it.


I slipped the cover back over the case to finish up the DVD bezel work.


I needed to shave a 1/16" off one end so I setup this simple jig to run the bezel back-and-forth across. That's a 60-grit sandpaper block clamped to a working surface.


When inserting the case into its shell the DVD drive will have to slip through this bezel. To help with any minor alignment issues I have rounded off the bezel's backside opening.


The bezel is placed and tested by raising and lowering the shell. A clearance issue on the near side was fixed.


After all that work and the case is stiil intact. LOL


Glued up and clamped the filler pieces on the face using the rest of the leftover waster pieces.


To prove that I actually do make mistakes here is the bezel that wasn't cut wide enough to extend the width of the frame. LOL. Not a big deal as another layer of wood strips is going across all the legs which will cover it up....but....


I still can't stand it. I used scrap wood to fill in the spaces and sanded it down to hide the shame of my error.


Arriving via FedEx today is the stuff I use for my veneer. Thirty 1/32" thick pieces of American black walnut in 3" x 24" sheets. This is the same material I used on Ingraham and it was requested for this project by my wife. It is very expensive and very difficult to work with relative to my favorite wood, mahogany.

Thanks for looking.

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Yes, I was wondering why you called your project "Mission" (maybe Mission Impossible, he-he, just kidding). I remember seeing some of that type of furniture in the King Ranch museum (suppose to be the largest ranch in the States). I studied at the university in Kingsville (logical-he donated the land for part of the town and the university) in Texas.

Without your clear explanation about this type of furniture, I would have never imagined why you called it that and as a matter of fact, did not even know that there was a type of furniture called "mission". Good to know. I don't think anyone is going to grade your mod on the use of tenons as if they were going to grade mine for the amount of martians that fit in my Ufo. What is important, I think is how well we carry out our projects as an end product. Walnut is going to look kick-butt!


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Good to know. I don't think anyone is going to grade your mod on the use of tenons as if they were going to grade mine for the amount of martians that fit in my Ufo. What is important, I think is how well we carry out our projects as an end product. Walnut is going to look kick-butt!


The mission architecture is very famous in this part of Southern California. When I lived in North Florida there is high humidity and that affected a lot of hobbies that I did involving wood. Will you extensively seal the wooden parts to counteract the expansion and contraction? I like the veneer parts, they are really good quality, but I am wondering how they will seal together?

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My Walmart trash can (dust bin) that I chop up for mesh isn't big enough to accommodate this project and I couldn't find a viable alternative so I went ahead and ordered two 3 x 120 stainless steel radiator grills.

This update is all about cutting up pieces of wood and gluing them to the frame. This adds a lot of weigh and strength. It also starts to look like a piece of Mission furniture according to the wife. :D Lots of exciting action-packed photos of glue drying.


I attached pieces to either side of the front legs. The excess material sticking out past the face must be removed down to the same plane as the face.


I draw squiggly lines on the surface that I don't want disturbed by my sanding. I call these tell tale lines. I want to use this surface to guide my sanding without removing any material. When the lines start to disappear then I know I have to stop. On top of these lines you might see some transparent Scotch tape that I use to "lubricate" the sanding. This whole nonsense is meant to keep the corner sharp and at a perfect 90 degree angle.


The result. I stop sanding just as I start to scuff up the tell tales.


Then do it all over again after applying strips of wood across the front of the legs. This creates an interlocking corner something like Lincoln Logs or whatever they are called in your part of the world.


Clamping action. Since I'm being preachy...the rule is to never clamp directly to the surface being glued. Instead, use another piece of wood as a spacer to help evenly distribute the clamping force across your work.


How many pieces of wood does it take to create a 1 1/2" square leg? Ten. Some of these are the ends of short pieces and some are the ends of pieces that run the length of the structure.


Glue drying.




Symmetry - an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance.

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