Victorian Desktop (Computer Case)

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Project by Mosquito posted 06-02-2015 02:38 PM 1879 views 3 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a scratch built computer case (and computer) that I made for my wife. It started as 4/4 rough mahogany, and was cut to size and milled up by hand. The front grate was an old cast iron heat vent cover we found at an antique shop a while ago. I used cast iron corner braces around the window in the side panel to go along with the theme. It was finished with Dark Walnut Danish Oil.

The computer inside is watercooled with a custom watercooling loop, and uses rigid acrylic tubing. There’s not a whole lot of extra room in the case, but that’s just the way I like it. The power button and two USB 3.0 ports are located on the top front of the case.

The top, front, and bottom pieces are dovetailed together using hand cut half blind dovetails. The doors have dado’s in them across the top and bottom, which fit over rabbets on the top and bottom pieces. I used half-mortise locks to hold the doors closed (keyholes in the top panel). The back panel is a piece of painted aluminum I cut out, and painted. It’s attached to a mortise and tenon frame, which is screwed to the back of the case.
All the final pictures can be found here:
A full worklog of this build can be found here:

Started out with a long wide piece of rough mahogany.

After much hand sawing and hand planing, I ended up with this stack of boards

I dovetailed the front to the top and bottom pieces with half-blind dovetails.

I used a Stanley #46 to cut the dado’s in the two side doors, and the rabbets for the top/bottom pieces.
This is how the doors are aligned with the other two panels.

I mortised the hinges into the front edge of the door, and the back face of the front panel. This is how I have access into the case for installing hardware.

I used these half-mortise locks to hold the side panels closed.

I cut out a hole in the side panel to mount the corner braces and the acrylic window too. It was kind of annoying, as I had to cut out the profile of the corner braces in the acrylic so it would fit

I made a mortise and tenon frame for the back panel to mount to

I used a combination of drill, jewelers saw, dremel, and jigsaw to make the cut outs for the back panel.

I painted the back panel and some screws, glued together the joinery, and applied the finish.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

19 comments so far

View htl's profile


2015 posts in 579 days

#1 posted 06-02-2015 03:06 PM

Very nice build!
Love the grill work for that old timey look.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View 489tad's profile


3083 posts in 2431 days

#2 posted 06-02-2015 03:15 PM

Very Cool! All your joinery looks good, very well built. I like the electrified picture.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View john2005's profile


1741 posts in 1597 days

#3 posted 06-02-2015 03:18 PM

Looks killer Mos. Love it!

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View Tim's profile


3030 posts in 1381 days

#4 posted 06-02-2015 05:07 PM

That is full of awesome. You stole your thunder for the project page by showing it to us already, but it’s still one sweet computer.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


7863 posts in 1402 days

#5 posted 06-02-2015 05:30 PM

Now that’s computer building I could get into.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1712 days

#6 posted 06-02-2015 05:41 PM

Thanks guys!

It’s true Tim, but I just couldn’t wait lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View CFrye's profile (online now)


8565 posts in 1259 days

#7 posted 06-02-2015 07:13 PM

Nicely done, Mos! How are the corners secured? I see places for fasteners… Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1712 days

#8 posted 06-02-2015 07:26 PM

Thanks Candy!

There’s an additional set of holes for screws on insides of the bracket, you can see some of them in the bottom left of this picture.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Notw's profile


439 posts in 1173 days

#9 posted 06-02-2015 08:38 PM

I checked out your worklog at the Mod Zoo, awesome job! where do you get all of your components from?

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1712 days

#10 posted 06-02-2015 08:49 PM

I checked out your worklog at the Mod Zoo, awesome job! where do you get all of your components from?

- Notw

Thanks! Components as far as the computer parts, mostly or Micro Center (there’s one between home and work for me). For the watercooling stuff it’s mostly now. I’ve ordered some watercooling stuff from other places before, but most of those aren’t around anymore

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2509 days

#11 posted 06-02-2015 10:06 PM

Crazy stuff, really COOL.
Love the idea of making the computer fit the style, always hated the gray boxes.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View terryR's profile


6230 posts in 1728 days

#12 posted 06-02-2015 11:06 PM

The case came out great, Mos!
What a great way to hone hand tool skills.

Hey, how about a custom iPad case???

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1712 days

#13 posted 06-03-2015 12:07 AM

Thanks Mads! I’ve never liked the “beige box” I’ve been into customizing my computers pretty much since I got into computers. It’s my “art” form, since I’m not that artistic otherwise lol

Terry, iPad case in what sort of capacity? I’ve thought about making a case for my surface or my android tablet, to protect it a little more from dust or whatever when it’s mounted in the shop… not sure what you had in mind, but I’m sure you could pull one off just as well as I could ;-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View CL810's profile


3404 posts in 2408 days

#14 posted 06-03-2015 02:21 AM

Really nice Mos! I really like how you mix woodworking, a traditional craft, with high tech.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Mosquito's profile


7924 posts in 1712 days

#15 posted 06-03-2015 03:51 AM

Thanks Andy :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

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