Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
About This Project: Storage Rack for External Hard Drives or HDDs
My son asked me to make a wooden housing for two of his external HDDs (hard disk drives) to stop the cat from knocking them over every time she jumps up to gain access to the windowsill.
My wife had already asked me to make her wooden filing trays to replace the old plastic tatty trays in our home office, and I’d already purchased a 4’ x 8’ sheet of 12mm plywood to make the filing trays. So I used the same material for both projects and adapted the design of my wife’s filing trays to create the HDD housing for my son. Hence I wouldn’t just be making a wooden box to house my son’s external HDDs, but I would also make it multipurpose by adding a filing tray on top.
Here are the steps I followed:
1. Cutting the Sections to Size
To make the housing with a filing tray on top required four pieces of 12mm (½ inch) plywood, for the top, bottom and two sides; and a small strip of 4mm (1/6 inch) plywood for the back top.
All the main pieces were measured, marked out and cut from a spare piece of 12mm plywood using a circular saw.
2. Cutting Sacrificial Spacers
To make assembly easier, I decided to cut a couple of identical sacrificial spacers the same height as the interior height of the housing box that I was making. The spacers will be used in the assembly of the box and then discarded as scrap wood afterwards.
3. Bevelled Edge of the Filing Tray
For easier access and better aesthetics, I measured, marked and cut a 45-degree angle on the front top of the side panels to create a bevelled edge for the filing tray.
4. Initial Sanding
Before assembly, quickly smooth and round off all the cut edges, including the bevelled edges, with a suitable orbital sander.
The stages for assembly were:
- Glue all the edges to be joined with wood glue.
- Place the two sacrificial spacers on the base, and the top on top.
- Then bring the two sides up into position on either side and secure them with clamps.
- Then finally, secure in position with screws.
The process described above is a bit fiddly, a bit of a balancing act where you feel like you need half a dozen hands, as everything wants to flop back under gravity. I did manage to do it all on my own, but if it does prove too tricky holding everything in place while getting the clamps in position and tightened enough to hold it all straight, then certainly get someone to give you a hand.
6. Fitting the Back
Because it is housing external HDDs (electrical equipment) the box requires good ventilation and easy cable access at the rear. Therefore, rather than a closed back, I only needed to cut sufficient 4mm plywood to back the top (the filing tray), and for strength to make it a little larger so that it would block off just the top portion of the box at the rear.
Once cut, the 4mm plywood back was then glued and screwed into place.
7. Final Sanding
With the box complete, just give it a quick sanding to make all the corners and edges smooth and level.
8. Clean & Wax
With the wooden unit complete you could optionally paint, varnish, wood stain, wood dye and/or wax the surfaces before commissioning.
For this project, I opted to wax polish the wood using dark stain beeswax. I always use beeswax, and never silicone furniture waxes. Beeswax is long-lasting and gives the wood good protection whereas silicone furniture waxes don’t. With silicone waxes, once the oil dries it loses its shine, and the silicone oil attracts the dust, which means you end up forever dusting and polishing; while with beeswax, a quick occasional wipe over is all that’s required.
So the simple steps I took to clean and wax the multipurpose housing and filing tray unit were:-
- Use a cloth to quickly wipe the unit over with white spirit to clean off all the loose sawdust. Leave for 30 minutes to dry.
- Apply the beeswax with a yellow duster, rubbing it into the wood grain; and leave for 15 minutes to soak in.
- Rub to a sheen with a yellow duster.
Install the unit in location, and start using it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Arthur Russ