Showing Some Love
I was excitedly cleaning up my workshop one day, and noticed that my 3D printer wasn't getting very much love. I had disassembled and taken it with me to Argentina some time last year, and numerous parts were broken in transit. It definitely didn't help that several more parts broke on the way back home. Moral of the story -- don't take your 3D printer with you to Argentina.
I realized that it had just been sitting here in the shop half-fixed for too long; it was almost Jerry-rigged together with tape and wires that were patched in as a "short term" solution. I had gotten a new extruder head from a Micron 3DP located out of Israel that I mended in, but the 3D printer filament was just sort of hanging up top and it just looked really bad.
I used to mount the power supply on the back of the printer with some printed brackets, but of course, that was one of the pieces that broke in transit of the trip, so that was just sitting behind it. It really started stressing me out, and I also have several little doodads like extra extruder tips, a pair of tweezers that I use to clean the filament out, and wheels that I would use to hold the 3D printer filament in its holder rack. All these things needed a home.
Recently, I ended up printing a new rack to hold the filament, which pleased me, so then I got to thinking "well I also need a place to put all of these electronics and could really use a drawer for all of these little doodads." So, I made the decision that it was finally time to show this printer some serious love!
I had just purchased a new dovetail jig and a router, so I'd been practicing some woodworking techniques and thought "hey, I'll build a cool little wood cabinet!" I got really excited about it and thought I should just go over the top and make a place for the electronics in the back and a little drawer in the front for storage. This way, the 3D printer could sit on top of it, I'd re-wire it, and it'd look really nice.
I got right to work on a set of plans, shown below, and it was going to be poplar with plywood panels mostly using rabbits, but for the drawer I wanted to use my newly practiced dove tail technique.
Inside: The Divider
I started by cutting the sides out of the poplar, and there's a dado that goes in the middle of the cabinet, which you can see in the middle of the box below; this is how I'm going to divide the drawer area from the electronics which will be housed in the back.
Once that was cut, I test fit and glued the top panel on. As you see, it's nice plywood with a piece of poplar glued on the edge so that the front of the cabinet has all poplar surrounding, which looks much better than just seeing the edge of regular plywood.
Drawer with Dovetails
After the cabinet was glued together, I started building the little organization drawer. I used the dovetail jig to make 2 small dovetails on all 4 sides, and it glued together with a close fit!
I put my clamps to good use on all sides to make sure the sides were tight and square.
While that was drying, I test fit and put on the rear flip-up panel. For this, I wanted to be able to easily access our electronics, so I wanted to build a little lid that flipped up on hinges.
The hinges are recessed slightly below the surface, so I just carved out a little recess for them by chiseling down and smoothing out the little pocket for the hinge until it fit real flush. Looks clean, right?
The way I did this, was I pre-drilled the pilot holes for the hinge, screwed them down on top of the wood, and then used the chiseled edge to score a line around the hinge. Then, I removed the hinge and chiseled out the wood about 1/16" away from the edge of the score line; where once the bulk of the wood was, I trimmed it up to the score line, and then test fit it until it sat at the right level.
The Dried Drawer
At this point, the glue was dry on the drawer dovetails. Just look at this beaut! The jig I used was a Leigh 20 something (not the newer D4R), it's actually one of their older models that I purchased used, but let me tell you, this thing makes the best dovetails. Don't get me wrong -- I would love to learn and get better at doing this by hand, but to be able to make a well-crafted, functional joint in an afternoon's time, is pretty great.
A False Front
Once the drawer was glued up, I added a false front out of poplar. I decided to do this because originally, I wanted to have the joinery exposed on the front of the drawer, and have it sit just perfectly in the case.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I didn't have the best "squareness" on the case itself, and it would have been a very tricky fitting process to get the drawer to slide perfectly inside the case so that there was no need for a false front. I think if I had built the drawer a little larger or had access to something like a Belt or Circle sander, I could have adjusted the drawer to fit. But in the end, the false front was easier to make, and I personally think that it ended up looking minimal and clean!
Once the drawer was assembled, I sanded it down with several grits of sandpaper up to 400, and then coated it with a layer of polyurethane matte finish. When that dried, I sanded it down again with 400 grit until it was really smooth and to finish, applied a wipe-on polyurethane to give it that hand-rubbed oily look.
Below, you can see the completed sealed top hinged area, which I actually used the same finishing process for. I just used the polyurethane, sanded, applied the wipe-on poly, and then simply attached the hinges.
The Woodwork is Complete
And, voilà! Here, you can see the finished case sitting in the space where the 3D printer used to be, and where it will go once again with a new "home" to live on! I'm really pleased with how the case turned out, and it's really calming to be able to open a drawer that not only looks great, but also stores away all of our little parts.
In the next article, I'll be detailing the electronics side of this project, such as the wiring, creating of the panel and connectors, and finishing the re-wiring of the 3D printer. Whereas this post focused more on the woodworking, the next one will delve into more of the electronics/3D printing side.
I probably spent way more time on this case than was perhaps warranted, but I kept thinking about some of the Samurai Carpenter videos where he talks about surrounding yourself with beautiful things; and I can now confidently say that this 3D printer has received its fair share of love, because it has one of the nicest pieces of furniture I've ever built as it's base! I mean, come on -- look at how happy these parts look in their new home!
If only we treated everything as something deserving of a nice home, then the world would truly be a beautiful place. I can't wait to share the electronics side of this project with you soon enough!