During the summer I built a wooden enclosure for the amplifier board I bought from HiFimeDIY. I will show the result rightaway and then go through the steps building it.

Finished enclosure

Design

I like the look of unpainted wooden cases and furniture in general. I also like electric appliances with visible screws to show that they are intended to be opened, serviced and hacked on. To keep the case together I opted to use metal standoffs between the top and bottom, as it would allow me to take the case apart repeatedly without damaging the wood like wood screws would. To lift it off the ground I used rubber feet that were screwed in place, reusing the screws for the standoffs.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to make a political statement on screw heads. To clearly show that the screws on this case are intended to be turned more than once without breaking I used hexobular/Torx heads for all visible screws. As they can be hard to find in all sizes and lengths in tool stores I did cheat a bit and use more common Philips screws internally. All screws are M3 size for simplicity.

Tools

This is basically my first woodworking project so I didn't have a lot of tools suitable for processing wood before I started. Since I wasn't sure whether I would like it I didn't want to spend too much on tools. But on the other hand I didn't want to waste money on too crappy tools that would fall apart while I was using them or just after the completion of this project, in case I did want to do more woodworking projects. For this reason I chose to use hand tools only, since research and experience from other non-woodworking projects tell me that good power tools will typically cost a lot unless they can be found second-hand.

I settled for the Clas Ohlson COCRAFT series for most of my tools. I have found that they provide good value in general. The exception is the sharp tools (knife, drill bits) were I spent a little more to get quality hardware. These were the ones I ended up using:

  • Jigsaw
  • Hand cranked drill. I bought slightly nicer Bosch wood drill bits.
  • Two small clamps
  • Morakniv crafting knife
  • Set of small metal files

Materials

I found these nice small wooden boxes for not too much money, of which I used the largest 15x23 cm box in this project.

Wooden boxes

As the lid I got a small plywood board for free from a carpentry store waste pile.

I started by marking and sawing out a suitable sized board using a hand jigsaw.

Plywood sawed through

I used too course a sawblade initially, which caused some chip-out on the back. Fortunately blades with several different teeth densities came with the saw.

Plywood chip-out

I then lined up the box and lid and drilled holes for the four standoffs. To precisely mark the holes near the corners I marked the hole on a post-it note that I could more easily line up in the corner. Obviously, if I made the case from scratch I would instead drill all the holes before assembly.

Hole drilling with post-it note for markings

Next I drilled the larger holes on the front panel for the on/off switch and the volume potentiometer shaft. To prevent chip-out I clamped the box to a sacrificial plywood board.

Drilling holes in the front panel

I opted to not put any blinkenlights in the front panel. As I wrote in the first impressions article the output relays switch on a few seconds after power on which produces a clicking sound. This will do for a power on & amplifier happiness indicator.

Test-fitting amplifier board

Test-fitting the amplifier board in the box.

The front panel holes were off by a millimeter or so, which I was able to carve and file out. I also had to make a smaller hole for the pin next to the potentiometer shaft that I believe is intended to secure the potentiometer against a panel.

Amplifier board lined up against the front

All lined up perfectly.

With the amplifier board in its intended position I marked the shape of its standoffs on the bottom board. I was then able to mark, tap and drill the four holes for the board.

Holes marked for the amplifier board standoffs

Holes drilled for the board standoffs

At this point I took a break for the day and will also do so in this article series. Next up is the back panel with the connectors.

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