With the front-to-back dimensions now known, I could start work on the rest of the panels. A simple bottom panel is cut and the edge routed to extend slightly below the side and front panels. The base is necessary to support small feet at the corners which will raise the system above the desk or floor surface.
Two different side panels with windows are planned, with an intricately detailed one on the motherboard side. The other case panel will also have a window treatment, but not as detailed. There is a motherboard tray that slides into the bottom of the case, and behind this is a sheet metal shield, placing little or nothing of interest in view through a window in that side panel. I am thinking that the sheet metal may allow for some specialty backlighting in this narrow gap that should show off a second art glass window really nice.
[caption id="attachment_434" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="To create a single large solid wood panel for carving, two boards had to be glued together along one edge. The resulting side panel was trimmed to size, and the pattern transferred onto the wood with pencil and marker."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_435" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="From the pattern side, starter holes are drilled for carving openwork detail along the bottom. After flipping the panel over, I used a router to carve a recessed area into the back of the panel so I can mount a glass window between the wood and the steel side panel."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_436" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Using a handheld jigsaw, I then cut the large heart-shape opening and some of the larger areas for the blossom pattern. (The mesh you see here is the anti-skid rubber mat to hold the panel in place while I was routing out the back. "][/caption]
Using a high-speed rotary bit in a Dremel tool, the smaller openings around the flowers are enlarged and cut to shape. Using a selection of different shaped burrs in a flexible shaft, the curves and blossom details are roughed out. After that, it's more carving, lots and lots of sanding, and finally - sealing of the wood. Then, the whole process is repeated with the second side panel.
[caption id="attachment_437" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The pattern is carved into the surface of the wood, and details are roughed in using different carving burrs."][/caption]
To hold the wood panels to the case, they will be attached to the original sheet metal chassis panels with four or five screws. Before final attachment of the wood side, a custom window hole must be cut in the metal panel to allow light to come through the windows.
[caption id="attachment_438" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A plasma torch makes quick work of cutting an irregular opening through the sheet metal panel."][/caption]
By attaching the wood to the the metal panel, the edges of the carved openings can be scratched onto the painted surface of the metal panels. The incomplete pattern of outline scratches is completed in a connect-the-dots fashion, to create the guide to cut a window opening. With the outline now clearly marked on the painted surface, the wood is removed. The metal panel goes outside for a close encounter with my handy-dandy plasma torch, quickly cutting out the window openings.
Next time: The top panel and front door.