Building a custom ITX HTPC computer with wooden case mod – Part 2

Welcome back. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this excellent writing exercise, well you oughta!

In Part 1 I briefly outlined the choice of hardware for the system. In Part 2 I’ll present the design aspects of the case.

The Case

I’m not 100% crazy, I do not have the skills, nor the tools to build a wooden case all from scratch.

My initial idea was to find an old wooden box, from a second hand store or maybe a cheap antique (are these contrary terms?) store, that I would then “operate” on (read: cut & drill) to fit all the components in, but then came a better idea.

My Dad

My dad lives in France, and is a retired teacher with a severe case of DIY syndrome.. the kind of severity that makes you build your own house from scratch, brick by brick, in your spare time, while having a normal job to attend during the day.. humble respect to that.

He’s also taken to doing a bit of woodwork in the recent years (tables, cabinets, etc) and has the tools needed for the job.

I thought he would enjoy the exercise, so I hired my dad to build the box to specs on his spare time. I just needed to provide him with the specifications for it.


Ok, so, I’m not a professional engineer of wooden constructions.

I did some initial research trying to work out the size of the elements going in the box.

It pretty much went like this:

  1. Measure the main elements

  2. Draw elements to scale in Illustrator

  3. Add some guesswork padding around the elements

  4. Draw a box around them

  5. Hope for the best

Most elements were easy to measure.

  • ITX motherboard specs are actually well documented. You can get most of what you need from this Intel ITX Interface Specification document.

    (If you’re looking for other references, this website has a good list of form factors )

  • 2.5″ hard drive specs & diagram can be obtained on the website of the manufacturers.

  • The optical drive is a slim one. I didn’t have to dig up that info since I already had an old laptop one floating around somewhere that I could measure straight from.

  • I’ll also need to fit in a small fan (40mm), a power switch and a DC plug.

Here’s the draft of the original layout:


Top View


Front View


Back View

Surely this will be fine!

So I sent these off to my dad, with the guidelines that this was the minimum dimensions of the inside of the box. If needed be, it could be a bit bigger.

I also spec’ed out some wooden feet for the box, and as a safety backup plan I requested that he also made two small stand alone panels.

The minimum width for the wood panel that he could cut was 8mm. Wanting the smallest box possible I requested that width.

One last – important – request: I wanted to be able to take the lead completely off, simply to make it easier to cut through the two parts (lead & base) separately. This is quite easy to do, you basically just need to have the hinges coming out the same direction, like you would with a common house door.

Few weeks later and €50 of goddam postage later I received the box.

Outside view

The Box


Inside view

The Box (open)

Hmmm, blank drilling canvas.

Back view

The Box (back)

Taken apart (thanks to hinges alignment)

The Box (apart)

The spare panels

The Panels

The feet

The Feet

Ok, so if I don’t mess this up, I’ve ticked off point 5 of the requirements (not too ugly), this is quite a beautiful box.

In Part 3, I will start detailing some aspects of the process to turn this into a case

Soon to be continued in Part 3

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Building a custom ITX HTPC computer with wooden case mod – Part 2 by Dog In The Hat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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3 comments on “Building a custom ITX HTPC computer with wooden case mod – Part 2

  1. AoTing

    Where is part 3?!

    1. bendog

      Thanks for feedback. Part 3 has been a draft for many years, workload (and kid) meant I never got around to finish it.

      I should though!


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