Thursday October 18, 2018
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LAN & Home Office Server Cabinet Project

How I Built My Server & LAN Cabinet

This project will complete the final phase of my home office, or at least the construction part. If you have looked at the office project pages then you will recognize the role this cabinet plays. In one corner of the office space there was a PVC pipe that vented the plumbing from two downstairs bathrooms out through the roof. Since there was very little I could do with the vent pipe, I had to frame around it and move the wall out a couple of feet. I really hated to waste this space, so I decided to frame the area above the vent pipe for a cabinet with a finsihed size of 40"w x 28"h x 24"d. With access to the attic and outside the knee walls of the office, it was the perfect space to locate a modem, router, network switch, WAP, and local and web servers.

To simplify running more coax or CAT5e cables in the future, I ran a conduit through the attic from the other end of the house and terminated it at the back of the cabinet. I framed a stationary box to contain electrical outlets, a phone jack, and the conduit containing the incoming coax for broadband and the CAT5e wiring from the rest of the house, garage, and outside cameras. This cabinet has an opening cut in the back that slides over the box, allowing the wiring to stay intact if the cabinet needs to be removed.

The opening in the wall that the cabinet slides into is enclosed with 1/2" plywood and insulated.

Rather than try to manipulte the large pieces of plywood on the table saw, I cut them with a circular saw using a straight edge clamped to the plywood as a guide for the saw's foot.

After getting top, bottom, and sides cut to size, the next step was to build a jig to cut box joints to join the pieces. I used scrap to cut "keys" for the jig. These were cut on the table saw on two sides to ensure a perfect square.

After setting up the dado, I used some scrap plywood to test the cut until I had a perfect fit to the "key". I then cut the first notch in some plywood to be used as a fence on my mitre. A "key" was attached with glue and a brad, then the jig attached to the mitre using the "key" to gauge the distance between cuts.

This is a view of the back side of my jig.

Now I'm going to try out the jig. With the edge of the panel tight against the key, the first cut is made. Successive cuts are made by placing the newly cut notch over the key to make the next cut.

This is simple enough. Just keep repeating until all the notches are cut and this half of the box joint is complete.

On the mating panel, the notches need to be offset. I used one of the "keys" as a spacer to start this cut.

The second cut and all remaining cuts work just like the first panel. With glue on all sides of the teeth and notches, this should make a really strong joint.

Here is the second panel. Note how this one starts with a notch.

Here are the two panels fitted together. I have to say that I'm really impressed with the fit. I've never done this before.

I'm testing the fit before I glue everything together. I cut dados in the top and bottom panels for the vertical divider. This panel does not extend the full depth of the cabinet. The opening at the back will slip over a box mounted behind the cabinet containing the wiring coming into the cabinet.

Rack rails are mounted to the right side and to the virtical divider. Screw holes in the rails are exactly 19" apart.

Another view of the cabinet with the equipment rails in place, the face frame attached, and a couple of coats of polyurethane.

On the other side of the cabinet, I drilled 1/4" holes just deep enough for shelf pins. An adjustable shelf in the top portion of this side will be home to modem, router, and WAP.

Here is the shelf I made. It is made from the same plywood as the cabinet, with the front trim rabbeted to accept the plywood panel. Glue and brads hold the trim in place.

A quick test fit and all is good. A couple of coats of polyurethane to match the cabinet and that should wrap this up.