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Steve Dunlap 19th November 2009 09:57 PM

Build your own case
This thread is for people interested in building their own nice looking case for their project. I know quite a bit has been written on this subject, but this is an attempt to consolidate enough information and links in one place to be a useful resource. I am not trying to take credit for anyone else's ideas, but it would take forever to locate all the previous information out there and give due credit. Feel free to post who you are and what your idea was if you think I am repeating your work. If you have experience with this, please contribute. As long as you work safely, there are several ways to do each step.

I will start with a link to an on line seller. This company sells metals and plastics at reasonable prices, and they will cut to size for a small fee. Look around on line to find someone that can ship to your location. I din't know if this company exports or not.

I am not affiliated with this company or other companies I link to, in any way.

Online Metal Store | Small Quantity Metal Orders | Metal Cutting, Sales & Shipping | Buy Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, Stainless | Metal Product Guides at

The idea here is to provide a procedure to make your own case with a minimum of relatively inexpensive hand tools. If you have a drill press, thats great. If you have a machine shop, thats even better. This is for the DIYers that don't. Hopefully most here will have access to a drill press, but a hand drill will work.

Some basic tools:

Combination square. A must for a clean layout and accuracy.
Enco - Guaranteed Lowest Prices on Machinery, Measuring Tools, Cutting Tools and Shop Supplies

Tap extractors. This could be handy to have.
Enco - Guaranteed Lowest Prices on Machinery, Measuring Tools, Cutting Tools and Shop Supplies

Tapping fluids. Scroll down to the bottom for one made for Al.
Enco - Guaranteed Lowest Prices on Machinery, Measuring Tools, Cutting Tools and Shop Supplies

Also, C clamps are essential. I will add others as I think of them.

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 08:43 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I received the December issue of Audioxpress today and I see there is an article by Bruce Brown on building your own cases. I don't think what I'm doing here will repeat his work.

I need to say up front that I will not be building a case myself, so there will be no pictures from me. I will provide a few sketches as I go along. Hopefully, some will build something and post pictures.

The backbone of a good case is the frame that holds the large flats and heat sinks together. I like (back when I could still do this) to use 0.5" X 0.5" X 0.125" Al angel extrusion. The two readily available profiles are 6061-T6 and 6063-T52. The 6061 has rounded edges and I have not seen it smaller than 0.75" X 0.75" X 0.125". The 6063 has square edges. Another extrusion you might want to consider is square rod. It can be found in many sizes, but for our purposes here I will only show the 0.5" and the 0.25" sizes.

The 0.125" thickness can be drilled and tapped and makes very strong connection. The square rod can be drilled and tapped also giving much more thread for even more strength. I recommend using the 6061-T6 alloy of the square bare because the 6000 series of Al is much easier to drill, tap and machine in general than the softer alloys such as the 5000 series and below.

For reference, a 48" length of the 6063 angel described above is $3.69. The price per foot goes down for longer pieces (they have up to 8' lengths) but UPS charges extra for shipping the long pieces, so you come out ahead by buying the 4' pieces if you plan to cut your own. If you order that precut into, for example, 4 - 10"pieces and 4 - 2" pieces the price goes up to $8.16, before shipping. You will save money by cutting your own, but only if you already own the tools. The advantage to cutting your own is that you can miter cut the ends for cleaner looking results.

I have attached a drawing to illustrate the extrusion profiles I discussed. Ask questions or add comments. I'm sure many of you have experience with this.

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 08:59 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I just noticed I misspelled your in the thread title. Hopefully most of you will know what I intended.

The first attachment shows what the angel could look like after drilling. You can drill the holes large enough to use bolts and nuts for the sides and bottom if you prefer, but for the top I recommend the tapped holes.

The next two attachments show the two angel profiles as they would be used. The holes shown are sized for 6-32 clear hole and tap hole. Remember, these are just suggestions, use whatever you want.

Magura 20th November 2009 09:17 PM

Hi Steve,

Great idea. I've been on to making such a guide myself, as I help a lot of newbees around here. It's always the same problems they have, and mostly the same questions they ask.

To add my 2 cents:

Cutting fluid for aluminum is waste of money, simply use alcohol. In some cases it will even surpass the "real" aluminum cutting fluids.

Taps and drills should be of the plain HSS type, not plated, as the plating actually makes the tool less suitable for aluminum, due to lower sharpness. The benefits of plating, are less tool wear and lower friction. None of those are issues when cutting aluminum.
Also worth a note, is that HM (carbide) tools are also less suitable for aluminum.

When working on an aluminum sheet, to avoid scratches, simply cover it with adhesive tape. This can then be removed once all the work is done, and you will have a nice surface quality, with almost no effort.

Also a standard issue I see almost always, is that people don't calculate the cutting speed for their tooling. This often makes the difference between perfect and a mess.

When using hand tools, and a simple manual drill press, a rule of thumb is to not go past 25 meters per minute. Actually this is very low for cutting aluminum, but as the cooling and lubrication is usually pretty bad under such circumstances, 25 M/min. is a good figure to go by.
To calculate the cutting speed the formula looks like this:

Desired cutting speed, in meters per minute / tool diameter in millimeters * 1000 / Pi

Magura :)

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 09:17 PM

Hi merlin2069er,

Since your post has disappeared, I assume the files downloaded OK. If not I will re post them.

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 09:25 PM

Hi Magura,

Thanks for contributing that info. I am a trained machinist, so I sometimes forget to give enough information to beginners when it seems so obvious to me.

Rob Southgate (RobS) sent me this link. It should be helpful also.

Untitled Document

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 09:45 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is an example of what a side panel could look like. I have shone an example of mounting the angel flush to the edges in one, and inset the thickness of the top or bottom panel in the other. For these examples, and the previous, I am showing 0.125 thick panels. You can select the thickness that suites you. I will leave out dimensions and other unimportant details in some of the drawings because these are suggestions, not blueprints. You can use either flush, inset or mix them up to generate a construction to appeal to your own taste.

I Zipped these two together as they were each too large as PDF.

Magura 20th November 2009 09:50 PM

I see you're making this in Autocad, could you post those images in perspective?

The images you just posted, are not beginner friendly.

Magura :)

nigelwright7557 20th November 2009 10:05 PM

I prefer to use PC cases as they come with cut outs for mains sockets and fans mountings. For what they are the yare usually very cheap.

I use the desktop cases so I can sit a mixer on top.

Attempts at my own cases always ended up needing expensive punches etc. so I gave up.

Steve Dunlap 20th November 2009 10:41 PM


Originally Posted by Magura (
I see you're making this in Autocad, could you post those images in perspective?

The images you just posted, are not beginner friendly.

Magura :)

If you use AutoCad I can post my files. You can probably redraw them much faster than I could. I'm pretty slow these days since I can't use my hands.

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