More 'Jigging' and Routing

posted Sep 10, 2012, 8:07 PM by Andrew Stock   [ updated Sep 10, 2012, 8:07 PM ]
This past weekend was a busy weekend! So busy that I didn't get time to post my progress until now. 

Anyway, after being stumped by the USB door / access panel stuff for a few days, I decided to set it aside and move forward with other portions of the mod. Hopefully a good idea will come to me through divine intervention. 

I started the weekend off with cutting the last major part of the case... the top! As with the sides, I started by printing out a to-scale version of the design from sketchup:

Then, after covering the surface in masking tape to help protect it while cutting, I taped the design on top.

After about an hour of trimming with the jigsaw, the design part was done:

For the top USB door 'square' I opted to use the dremel... The work was a bit too tight to use the jigsaw, and I wanted to try and preserve the 'scrap' piece to use it for the actual door if possible. Rough cut: done!

I'm still impressed by how accurate the jigsaw is when working with this thick aluminum... to think that I was concerned it would be jumping all over the place making a massive mess... sure, the dremel could probably do a similar job with about 10 disks and 10x the time/effort. The accuracy shows even in the scraps, which are only 3-4mm thick but fully in-tact:

After a bit of cleanup with various shapes of metal files, looking pretty good:

The super confusing reflections from inside the case... it's like a house of mirrors! 

That's all for day 1. Now on to day 2! First, I spent the morning playing with the design for the radiator housing... getting it precise and such so that I had a template to work from:

The plan is to have the two radiators simply sitting back to back in the housing... maybe with a bit of rubber or neoprene between them to dampen any vibration and give a good seal. The pump will be mounted on the two prongs sticking up from the top:

I'm also planning on using the gap in the platform to feed the cables from the fans through, to keep everything neat down there. I'll probably drill a small hole for each fan in the bottom/side area, and they will all hook up to some molex splitters down there. 

The fans will be mounted on the outside, of course, and screws will run through their mounting holes, through the acrylic housing, and into the radiator, sandwiching it all together. 

Still haven't totally decided on the color of the acrylic... here's an option with clear / grey acrylic:

And one in black...


Anyway... now that the design was done, I ran down to the local hardware store and picked up some 1/2" MDF. Why MDF, you might ask?

To make a template, of course! I've decided I will try my hand at using that fancy table router I borrowed a while back... and what better time to try, than when I have to produce (at least) two identical pieces? 

(Jack doubts my process, as is clear by his inquisitive stare... but I'll show him 'I know what I'm doing.' )

So as usual, I printed out a template from Sketchup, and taped it to the MDF:

Using a technique I discovered while figuring out how best to trace the template onto the subject, I went over every line with a razor knife. This scores the surface with a bit more permanent design, so that I can toss the paper template that tends to curl up and move around while I am working on it.

Now, off to work with the jigsaw (and a wood cutting bit, of course):

The MDF and jig were a delight to work with... nice smooth cuts, no jamming or anything. Considering how many awkward angles there were, there were no real mistakes to speak of. I got into the sharp conclave corners by first cutting in from both sides, then cutting a curved line from one end, through the middle, meeting up with the corner of the other end... then just went back over the cut to remove the curved area:

Inside area: done. 

Pretty sharp angles, for a first pass and free hand!

Now, to clean up some of the 'wobbles' in the flat lines, I used some sandpaper wrapped around one of my metal files. I neglected to pick up any woodworking files while I was at the store buying wood...  But, this ended up working rather well. I did a fair amount of 'how to' research online before going through this process... and the one thing that all guides universally agreed upon, was to spend the extra time getting the template just right. So, elbow grease: liberally applied. 

And now a similar process to cut out the outside area. Template: done!

After that, a quick trace on the acrylic, so that I can cut it out into a more manageable size... using what else... my jigsaw! 

There we go... much more manageable. I used my unibit and drill press to drill a small starter hole for the inside area too, since my router bit doesn't have a 'starter' tip (being that it's a template bit and all.)

The unibit does a really great job at clean holes... I ran it at about 600 RPM for this hole. Note, all the ragged stuff around the edge is the protective film. I decided to leave it on while machining it, to try and preserve the surface some. 

I also used some double-sided sticky pads I found laying around to adhere the acrylic to my MDF template, that way it wouldn't move around and mess up the cut. I only put one every few inches or so... but I probably should have used more. 

And right when I got to the point where I was ready to route... I got nervous ...  So, to quell my nervousness (being that this was my 'virgin cut' using a router) I picked up some scrap MDF and acrylic... just to see how it handled. 

Wowee... very clean, no melting... perfect cut. 

Oh... and a total mess. After about 10 seconds. 

Anyway, fear: quelled. Off to the races!

I had to stop about every 6 inches or so, just to vacuum up the gigantic pile of flakes generated from the router. It gave me a chance to review the progress, though. 

Anyway... lots more of that, and here we are!


Anyway, that was as far as I got. 

Post analysis:

1) I still have a little work to do on my template. A few of the lines are still wavy looking (like the bottom right corner area there) and it is super obvious on acrylic. Even the smallest uneven surfaces on the template are greatly exaggerated by the router, so I will need to be SUPER accurate. Fortunately, I can still salvage this piece by sanding down the template a bit more and running this piece through again. 

2) Routers are fun. And they make amazing messes. 

3) I have a feeling I will be using the router a lot more. 

Anyway, that's all for now! I did order (and receive) a bunch of latches for my USB door... so I am rapidly approaching a point where I will have to figure out what I want to do with it.  Thanks!