Building a Server Cabinet

Published by James Frost.

After not wanting to spend hundreds on a cabinet for my rack-mount server, I decided to make my own.

I have long been interested in the system administration side of computing and have thought about getting a server many times. Recently I managed to fill up my storage on my desktop (a pair of 5TB drives which are kept in sync with ROBOCOPY), and I decided it was time to go for a better solution. This led to me picking up a Dell PowerEdge R520 on ebay, and while the box it came in made quite a good case initially, over time I felt I wanted something better.

The server I brought.

I looked at server cabinets online, but they had prices on the order of hundreds of pounds new, so I decided to make my own. After all, how hard can it be?

Pre-made rack rails.

I started by buying some pre-punched steel bits, as manufacturing such an item would be next to impossible with the tools I head at my disposal, and they were only a few pounds. I then found an old cupboard that had been unused and disassembled it, giving me some good wood. I then put together the cabinet for a test fit, which revealed that it was a little off, allowing my to fix it.

The test fit being performed.

Once this was done it was time to grab my gorilla glue and screws and put it together. At this stage I sanded all the panels to remove any existing varnish. I then put in some noise dampening foam and made a detachable dust filter for the front door.

Noise damping foam applied to the inside of the cabinet.

As the final step I applied coat after coat of beeswax to treat the wood. The sides and front had about three coats while the top had five or six to make it more durable. Overall I think it turned out well, and I would recommend having a crack at any similar project you are thinking of starting.

Closed server cabinet, now complete. Open server cabinet, showing the server inside.