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Thread: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

  1. #1
    Average Rocket Scientist Aero's Avatar
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    Default Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2: Materials and Tools

    Ok, so after my last guide you have chosen your case design and have everything all planed out. From the color to shape, and you've ordered all the high flow fans you need. Now it time to figure out what you need to get that design.

    IMPORTANT!
    Before you start modding anything be sure to have safety equipment. While I don't want to sound like your first grade teacher telling you to wash your hands after going to the bathroom. Many things you use in modding can be deadly if you don't take care while working. Bondo which I will talk about shortly is extremely toxic, and can easily cause brain damage. Please make sure you have the following saftey equipment before you start a modding project.

    1. *Safety Glasses – Hard to mod if your blind, so these are an obvious choice
    2. *NIOSHI certified Respirator – Drain Bamage is bad, so this to is important, especially for painting.
    3. Hearing Protection - if you don't like the sound of the drill at the dentist, you won't like a Dremel at 32000 RPM.
    4. Latex Gloves- Some paints and epoxies burn if they come in contact with your skin, so these are a good idea to have around.
    5. Work Gloves – Today the have work gloves out of high tech materials like nylon or mylar, but a pair of cheap leather gloves can be just as good when it comes to keeping metal shavings from getting in your hand.

    *- A must have, even if on a budget,

    There are several tools and materials that have become synonymous with case modding. The 2 most popular are the Dremel and Bondo. Dremel has even market directly toward case modders.

    Dremel

    The Dremel is probably the most popular tool used in modding for its amazing versatility. Simply, if you can only afford one tool in your shop, make it a Dremel. They can cut just about anything, but also sand, grind, polish, strip, and just about anything else you can imagine. While many companies now make high speed rotary tool, Dremel is still the preferred company. If you do decide to go with the Dremel make, then I would recommend buying a chuck as well, so that you can use other companies attachments which will be cheaper than the Dremel brand. As I said if you buy one tool, buy a Dremel. One of the pluses of choosing the Dremel brand is that they offer attachments, not just cutting wheels and sanding tools, but attachments to transform it into a jigsaw, small circular saw, and even a drill press.

    Bondo

    The other, Bondo, is an auto body filler. While not a tool, it comes close. The Versatility of this stuff is amazing. For everything form building entire parts of a case, to seamlessly joining parts for a custom look. Bondo is a two part filler. It consists of a gray filler, which is in the paint can when you buy it, and an activator, usually red. When the two are mixed they start a chemical reaction that makes the Bondo harden completely in about 10-15 minutes, which is very nice when modding. After all, who wants to have to wait a day form smaller parts to harden? Once hard, it can be sanded, shaped, and painted. Keeping the necessary tools to a minimum, again good for those on a tight budget.

    With those two out of the way, now on to other tools and materials important to case modders.

    Power Sander

    There are several types of power sanders. We will start with the random orbital sander. An Orbital sander is a pretty simple machine. These use a circular disk, often with Velcro on the back. The Velcro holds the sand paper to a vibrating pad. The pad moves around in a random path, going sideways, up, down, stripping the surface of paint. This can come in handy when stripping a case down to the metal. While Orbital sanders are nice, they don't do that well around corners. The will usually leave the paint here. To clean this up you can use either another power sander or simple hand sand it.

    Another type of sander is a belt sander. There are 2 types of belt sanders. A hand held version, and a table top version. While portable handhold belt sanders have many uses, they are fairly limited for modding, and a bit pricey. They, like Orbital sanders can quickly strip a case. A table top belt sander is one the other hand a very nice tool. Ryobi makes one with a disk sander on the side. The disk sander has a small table and angle guide, good for custom grinding aluminum. A table top belt sander can also be used to quickly even out a rough cut for any custom piece.

    Drill

    I'm not going to go into depth explaining a drill. Basically it makes holes in stuff. In case modding Drills with hole attachments can literally cut the time it take to make a blow hole in half. No having to cut carefully with a Dremel, and the grind to the proper size and then file. Just drill a hole in the center and then align the attachment and go. In about 30 sec your done. If may want to get a drill press if you have the money. If you plan on making a custom LED matrix, or otherwise drilling many holes a drill press is a must. Not only does the drill press keep your work from moving while you drill, but it drills faster because it uses a lever to amplify how much pressure is getting but on the drill. For the modder this means less work, faster holes, and more time for painting and other parts of your mod. A drill press can also double as a buffer or power sander with special attachments.

    Jigsaw, Scroll Saw, Band Saw

    Ahh, wasn't life much simpler when you could say, “Wheres my saw?”, and there was only one thing you could be talking about? Well, someone complicated life and they complicated saws. A Jigsaw and Scroll Saw are very similar. Both consist of a very thin blade that move up and down upto 3000 SPM (strokes per minute) for some Jigsaws or 1700 SPM for some Scroll Saws. The difference is that a Scroll saw is a table top version of the Jigsaw. It allows for better control of both the material you are cutting and the blade itself. Blades for Scroll saws can also be much thinner because they are supported from both the top and bottom.

    While Scroll Saws and Jigsaws both cut by moving up and down, and Band saw works on a different principle. A band saw is simply one continuous blade that is constantly being rotated about 2 wheels. Even though a bandsaw allows for a very straight cut because it doesn't vibrate from moving up and down, it is probably not the best tool for modding. First off, you need a special blade to start from the center of a window, so its really not good for cutting widows.

    Sandpaper

    Yes sand paper. Even if you have a power sander, there are things that still need to be done by hand. Its a good idea to have a good selection on hand. I would say 80 grit, 200, 400, 800, 1000, 2000. From 400 and up make sure you have wet/dry sandpaper. Wet sanding with 2000 grit is one way cases get that mirror finish that we all love so much. Hand sanding is also a good idea for intricate shapes and delicate items you may be fabricating.

    Plexiglass

    Again, I'm not going to spend too much time introducing Plexiglass, Acrylic, Perspex, what ever you call it. Basically Plexiglass is a often clear plastic used in windows. It's prefered to glass because its much easier to cut and work with. If you want to know more about Acrylic go read Canibal23's Guide to working with Acrylic.

    Aluminum

    Aluminum. We all love it. Many cases are now made from Aluminum as opposed to steel. Aluminum is much lighter making it the metal of choice for anyone who plans on going to LAN parties. But for modding Aluminum takes on another roles beside the frame of a case. Modders can buy sheets, strips, and tubing of Aluminum and fabricate their own pieces. This allows for 100% custom pieces in a case, from the HDD rack to the frame to the front bezel. Not only is Aluminum cheap, but its very easy to cut, shape, and then polish or paint. Modding is about options, and Aluminum gives tons of options. Once you have a new HDD rack, you can cut the Aluminum and shape it like flames, or polish it and have a high tech look, or paint it and make it look like wood. Simply Aluminum is amazing. Buy some now.

    Steel

    Ok, you may be now thinking that Aluminum is the end all be all case material, but steel still has its place. Steel is more ridged than Aluminum, making it the choice for full tower cases and servers. It can be cut with most the same methods but can't be bent or shaped as easily. Otherwise its just about the same as Aluminum, can be painted but it doesn't gleam like Aluminum when polished.

  2. #2
    Fresh Paint
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Thanks Aero for putting together these guides, they are much appreciated by n00bs like me!

    keep up the great work!

    and thanks again!

  3. #3
    punk as **** public_eyesore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    no pictures?!?! I feel ripped lol. Good job man, keep it up.

  4. #4
    Anodized UK-Blade's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Come on everybody lets have a big round of applause for Aero.

    Damn fine work.

    Can't wait for part 3!! (Is there gonna be a part 3?)

    I comment DARN YANKS......

    Aluminium aint cheap over here, in the UK.


    Just kidding, no your fault UK is so bloody expensive.

    Good work Aero.
    Sarcasm - Is only one of the services I offer.

  5. #5
    Anodized UK-Blade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Come to think of it, nothings cheap, not Acrylic, Styrene, Mesh, wood, or any other material you can think of.

    I've been trying to find some decent suppliers, at reasonable prices so I can start my mods.

    Think I'm gonna have to mod my pc with old cereal boxes, toilet rolls and a couple of washing up liquid bottles.
    Sarcasm - Is only one of the services I offer.

  6. #6
    punk as **** public_eyesore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    ^^^ aluminium aint cheap here either.

  7. #7
    ATX Mental Case jsb666's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    great work Aero, love u guides so much they saved in my favs on firefox lol. they a lot of help to noobs like me that dont have a clue what they are doing, but thats 1/2 the fun making a mess of it and trying again and again till its right.:p

  8. #8

    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    To add a bit, if you don't mind

    FiberGlass great for molding Much like bondo it can be used to make "special effects" on a case. for example, if you wanted to add some sort of design to the front of a plain metal case, making a mold out of styrofoam, then coating it with fiberglass and adhereing, makes a great looking faceplate. Also, fiberglass cloth's can be very very inexpensive. And, they can make great looking side panels if you are interested in making them. Basically, Fiberglass | Balsa | Fiberglass, and you can use this to make a great panel. This stuff is very strong (lots of car mods (namely bumpers) are made out of fiberglass.)

    CarbonFiber Much like fiberglass, except this is much more rigid, and is more of a black colour than a beige. Also, when done right, this stuff can look very very cool. Use this stuff if you want a strong support.

    Hot Glue gun Another great little tool, can be used to adhere almost anything together, wouldn't suggest it for places where you need a very strong joint. Also, I have seen it used to make some great looking effects of blood, and water and such when painted.

    Spray foam This stuff is great to work with, it can be used as a base for some fiberglass layering (after sanding of course) it can also be a great way to add some custom looking designs to the front of cases (I know, they didn't use Spray foam) but the doom case would be an example, the ground could have easily been made using spray foam instead.

    Custom Parts Don't be afraid to mold parts of your own, acrylic is good for a glossy looking finish, and plain old plastic never hurt anyone. Also, don't be afraid to go out and buy a little old model kit to steal parts from. I have seen this used in quite a few mods.

    just my 2 pennies

  9. #9
    ATX Mental Case jsb666's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Thanks some more very usefull advice

  10. #10
    Average Rocket Scientist Aero's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aero's Guide to Modding Part 2- Materials

    Thanks Falcon! I tried putting at the top with the rest but apparently posts are limited to 10,000 characters or something, and I think spaces count as characters :p So I might have to reorganize, or find a way around that.

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