My case build and blunders

I’m taking a break from building modules to instead build a place to actually house them all! My case build has been an ongoing thing for a while now - something in parallel with the electronics. I’ll warn you now, this is going to be a long winded woodworking post!

Here we have it in its current state:

Sam mentioned in his case build video that the synth is a tool that is meant to be used and not to look pretty. In my personal case, I disagree. I figure if you are going to be starring at something all day long / using it regularly, aesthetics matter. Its most likely going to be sitting on the opposite wall of my office from me so it should spark joy, right? With that in mind I am pouring my meager woodworking skills into making a ‘nice’ case. Its going to take more money and for sure more time, but I think it will be worth it.

Keep in mind, I am by no means a master woodworker. I’m middlingly skilled at best. First, I let the materials I had available dictate the overall dimensions. Home Depot is my current wood supplier and they have 2’x4’ 1/2" birch plywood panels. They are a little pricey at 22$ a pop but I wanted something that I knew was not terribly warped, relatively standard so I could easily get more when the inevitable screwups start, and not full of flaws. I started off with two of them - picking up an extra just in case - as well as a sheet of backing material, the cost of which escapes me but was hopefully less than 10$.

The dimensions became “How big of a case can I make with one sheet?” So I cut it in thirds and then cut one of those in half to make the sides, giving me the general dimensions. From there, I could cut things down further to make it two panels high by “whatever I could squeeze out divided by five cm” long. So far so good.

As I worked with the wood I began to feel more and more that the 1/2 inch wood was going deflect more than I would like - especially in a case that could end up potentially being over a meter in length. This, coupled with my desire for pretty lead me down the road of laminating my wood - cutting down my extra piece in the exact same way and gluing them to the existing ones to end up with a 1" thick wall instead of 1/2". This is for sure going to double the weight of the whole thing - but I’m fine with that (I say that now - ask me again in year or so).

I decided to miter cut the corners - which turned out to be a bit of a problem because when I laminated the sides, I glued the wrong sides together, forcing me to re-cut them and loose 5cm - which I am cool with, but I still ended up having to go out and get a third board to cover my fox paw.

As usual I decided to make everything complicated and use a router to round the edges - which made me pause the whole build for some shop infrastructure work. I ended up making a router table from a leftover melamine desk that my sister-in-law was going to throw out. It was worth it though as now I have a router table, and it really made routing the edges a snap. Even let me do the corners as well.

Now the corners are all glued and nailed together. I’m pretty sure a moderate explosion could go off inside of the case and not damage it. My rails are off-cuts from shelving that I made a while back. Sadly, I’ve realized that they are about 1/4" too thick and will need to be cut down a bit. This is especially annoying as I already glued the top rail in. At least I thought to check before doing the middle or bottom one. We might want to add a “rail size” entry to the Kosmo standardization page!

The plan is to stain the whole thing and then attempt a “French polish” which I swear is not a euphemism. Its the glossy mirror type of finish you get on high end furniture - something I have certainly never attempted before.

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Well, it’s sort of implied by

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I always love to read a good post about building. I’m looking forward to your updates.

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This is the bane of my synthesizer life at the moment, did the exact same thing! I also glued and screwed the rails in the way I built the case, so no way of getting them out really. My temporary fix was just to grind out the wood with an old dremel whenever a module too large came up but it’s so the wrong way of going about fixing it and now I have to many modules to keep doing that aha. Hope you can sort it!

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yeah me too , had to rebuild a few cases because mounting cross bars were to thick and a couple modules didn’t fit in them . luckily I hadn’t glued them.

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That seems safe for the first power on of new modules :slight_smile:

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Integrated extractor fans might help with that, too.

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I’m one of those weirdos that feel KOSMO should be plywood and spray paint, and Eurorack, SERGE, 5U/MOTM, 4U, etc. should all look pretty.
oh and 4U should ONLY be 1 row :stuck_out_tongue: in metal boats. haha.

I do appreciate a purdy wood case tho, do not get me wrong :slight_smile:

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it is all a build in progress with DIY . I started with what ever I could find / afford . and a year and a half later I was able to redo face plates / boxes . but its all good as long as you are having fun , learning and doing something .

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Same. I was bummed when I realized my weathered plywood was too warped to make more than one case. Though I probably will make any additional eurorack cases out of plywood. Very not pretty.

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When the other formats, Eurorack and others, are brought up my leaning is with aesthetic engineering that would be difficult to replicate in DIY. I’m with OP on making a project look pretty especially when there’s materials that can look aesthetically pleasing with just a little bit more work. It makes me want to measure twice for every cut and drill holes for the screws. Eurorack, Serge, 5U, 4U and others is more like building a mixer in one of the highest end recording studios. Kosmo is more like building an electric guitar that you’ll get to see your handiwork as you play that for a long time. I know that’s not how everyone sees it and I don’t call anyone’s way of doing it wrong.

-Fumu / Esopus

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If its about making music, you dont see the instrument in the music. What it looks like is entirely irrelevant if thats your primary goal.

If you want nice furniture, then its perfectly fine to want to make it look good too.

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I don’t see music as work so as it’s for my own fulfillment I ought make the instrument nice.

-Fumu / Esopus

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Yeah, it’s totally individual. For some people, myself included, how it looks contributes a lot to how inspiring it is to use. For others, it doesn’t matter at all.

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I see it as a ratio of how long do you use it daily/how long will you just “see” it and work at something else.

Unfortunately, I will be looking much more at it than using it… so it has to be pretty.
My “tools” (computer and peripherals) have to be efficient, and I don’t care much about their look.
That’s more or less the same as “nice furniture”.

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Computer and accessories don’t have to be pretty. They’re standards of the industry. A portion of professionals felt they were fatigued by staring at glowing rectangles which are essentially made to do Excel. I haven’t believed the tools have to all be nice but if it’s what your staring at because it’s the largest in the room it should be the nicest one. I believe working on a modular should feel less like work because it all could be a pocket calculator so I won’t forget it’s a passion to build modular. ‘What color and finish do I want it to be?’

-Fumu / Esopus

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I forgot to mention, I had a nice case blunder myself. 4 cm too skinny:

It’s still my favorite case (weathered plywood just looks great to me), but the 4cm to skinny drives me crazy.

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I don’t think that needs to be a problem. Not every module needs to be a multiple of 100mm, and you could build a great buffered multiple or divider in 60cm.

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It’s just that doesn’t quite line up with my other case.

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I think to a certain kind of person it does (or of 25mm). Even if it did line up.

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