Case Modding Finishing Touches
No matter what method you used to cut the opening, it will not be smooth and free of defects. There are several tools and items you can use to clean it up. Usually, you will use more than one. I started with these files to true up the lines and make the curved corners blend well. I used a couple of different shapes and increasingly smoother “cuts” (that’s what they call the file ridges).
Here is where I think the Dremel shines when doing these large windows. There are innumerable bits and grits of stones to aide you in cleaning up and smoothing the edges to their finished state. Although I also used a bit of sandpaper, it was more for the flat surfaces in preparation for painting.
Now that all the cutting, filing and sanding is done, the bare metal edges are highly susceptible to rust. Unless you plan to get started on the painting right away, you’ll want to put at least one coat of primer on to protect it. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You will be sanding between coats of paint anyway.
Part of fine tuning this for me was test fitting the doors. I did a lot of cutting and the glass will be larger than normal, so I wanted to make sure the doors were not tweaked out of shape, fit nicely and opened and closed easily. The handles should fit so the metal edges do not protrude past the handle edges. It’s much easier to make corrections now, rather than after the painting is complete.
Although I am using real tinted glass here, the procedure is the same: cut the glass to fit the opening, leaving at least ½” margin around the outside edges for glue. In this particular case, the margin around the handles is very tight. Even real glass can be trimmed for a better fit. I used emery paper and the Dremel to perfect the finish size.
Once I was assured of a good fit, I could finish the painting. I think a good paint job adds to the quality of the mod. One of the best painting guides on the Net is at PC-Workshop (at least it was in 2003, but the site is down now). I tried to follow the guide written by Spiv for this custom green metallic paint job. It required a lot of wet sanding between coats of primer and the clear coats, but you can’t sand the metallic layers. I am pleased with the way it turned out for my first mod.
Because the number of layers of paint necessary adds thickness to the metal, I had to check the fit of all the parts. Case doors were designed to make it easy to have access to the insides of your case. I did not want to lose that functionality. These doors fit into a rounded post at the front edge and swing into position at the back. The handles pull back and clip into the back plane. Because of the thickness of the glass, the handles lost their spring action. However, the doors are affixed with thumb screws for security.
I use a lot of silicone in my regular job, so it was a natural choice for glue. I provides a powerful bond and can be removed if necessary. The mounting surface has to be clean of loose paint and any dirt. Squeeze a ¼” bead all around the edges, with a smaller bead around the handle area. Slip the glass into position, making sure of adequate clearance for proper closing. Clean up with denatured alcohol. Weight the glass and let it set overnight. You’ll be as anxious as I was to mount the doors.
I hope you enjoyed this old tutorial. It was a big undertaking for someone who had never modded a computer case before – and then I added a modded keyboard, mouse/trackball, a CRT monitor (that’s what we used back then) and I modded a Craftsman Tool Chest to create a rolling desk and to round out the automotive theme I used as my design inspiration. On the next page, you can view all the photos of this creation in a gallery. Just click the Next Button to see the finished project. Your comments below are most welcome.