Build Your Own Rack Furniture

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losthighway
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Build Your Own Rack Furniture

Post by losthighway » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:14 pm

I just did some measuring, but I wanted to check before I build something the wrong size.

What are the typical dimensions of a Rack Unit? I was thinking of buying 12U metal pieces and then doing the rest wood. Obviously, width is the most important dimension.

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Post by CurtZHP » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:51 pm

A standard Rack Unit is 1 3/4" high and 19" wide. As far as depth, I would make it AT LEAST 18" deep to accomodate most gear, plus cables coming out the back. Deeper if you have anything especially large like power amps.

That's basically what I did. I bought a pair of 20-space rack rails and a sheet of 3/4" cabinet grade oak plywood. Fortunately for me, my dad knew a furniture maker who cut the pieces for me according to my drawings. (You don't cut cabinet grade oak with a hand held circular saw!)
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Post by losthighway » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:20 pm

Lucky for me I can't afford oak and will be buying delux plywood about a 1/2" thick. I think my electric jigsaw will make short work of it! :P


I get the feeling it would be better to make the width of the cabinet 19 1/8" just for a little extra budge room once the rails are on and the various screw designs line up.

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Post by RodC » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:53 pm

Most comercial ones are 19 1/8". I had to make one of mine 19 3/16" for some older equipment that was a tad oversized.

I used 1x12 (3/4 X 11 3/4 actual) to make most of my racks. I only have a few pieces that hang out an inch or 2.

Plywood would be OK, but aint as fun to work with as standard wood. Unless you buy the expensive stuff you will still run into voids in the middle of the wood.

Cutting streight with a jig saw is tough. I have a table saw, but in a pinch i guess you could use a circular saw.
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Post by CurtZHP » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:09 pm

Yeah, 19 1/8" is good. You can always make up any discrepancy with washers when you mount the rails. Better too wide than not wide enough.

If you don't have access to a table saw, at least make a cutting jig from a good straight piece of lumber for your circular saw to follow. You'll want this thing as square as you can get it.

Plain old pine plywood is fine, but I think 1/2" will be a bit flimsy, and joining the corners might be a bit of a pain. A half of an inch is less space than most people think.

Go at least 5/8".
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Post by RodC » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:28 pm

Too bad your not near us, you would be more than welcome to drop by and cut them out. (that goes for any other tapOper as well)

I over looked the 1/2 size, that is a bit too thin. I would do a least 3/4.
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Post by losthighway » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:49 pm

All good advice. Thanks for the TOMB hospitality. Yeah in all seriousness I will just use the table saw at Home Depot. 5/8" is probably smartest.

Whatever I do it will cost a tiny fraction of buying prefab studio furniture.

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Post by RodC » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:04 pm

losthighway wrote: I will just use the table saw at Home Depot.
:lol:

Make those Home Depot guys work!
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Post by seeabove » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:35 pm

CurtZHP wrote:Yeah, 19 1/8" is good.
Remember that when you mount your rack ears, they are 1/8" thick themselves. So it sound be 19 1/4 " from side to side at a minimum.
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Post by RodC » Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:39 pm

seeabove wrote:
CurtZHP wrote:Yeah, 19 1/8" is good.
Remember that when you mount your rack ears, they are 1/8" thick themselves. So it sound be 19 1/4 " from side to side at a minimum.
What does the thickness of the ears have to do with it? Or do you mean the distance from the center of the holes to the outside edge? That varies quite a bit on my stuff.

I have 3 comercial built racks (SKB) they are all 19 1/16" wide.

The screws are on 18 7/16" centers.
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Post by CurtZHP » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:53 pm

He meant the rack rails.
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Post by RodC » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:29 pm

CurtZHP wrote:He meant the rack rails.
The ones I have used do not take up any room in front, they curve into the back. Thus the inside dimentions are not affected by the rails.
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Post by GooberNumber9 » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:30 pm

I used rails I got from Parts Express which I'm 99% sure are Penn-Elcom rails (formerly Penn Fabrication, a great hardware company IMHO). Anyway, the interior width of my rack is just a hair under 19 1/2". I think 19 1/8" is about the right interior dimension. I ended up making it too wide and inserting shims between the interior walls and the rails to get the close enough together.

Making it a little too wide is definitely better than too narrow. If you're not sure you could shoot for 19 1/4" and shim it if you make it too wide.

I made mine 18" deep, and I capped it with a 24x24" piece of plywood so I could put a printer on top. Mine is entirely 5/8" plywood with L-brackets and countersunk wood screws for the hardware, and I both glued and screwed all joints. I also faced all the plywood edges on the front with thin wood veneers that simply iron on, which was the part of the project that surprised me with how easy it was. I also finished it with a combined stain/poly which went on with only two coats but which is still outgassing a little. If I do it again (I have two extra rails here) then I'll probably go all water-based for the finish.

If you can scrape enough to get a Milwaukee circular saw and make yourself a straight cutting jig you'll get much better results than with a jigsaw.

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