Ah wood, whatever happened to you? Once everything in our homes was built from this growable, burnable, renewable resource but now we have the far superior plastic made from delicious oil. Who are we to question the motives of 'big oil'?
These companies love us, as much as they love the planet. But when it comes to making your own things wood still has the advantage of not requiring a specifically designed injection mould and about a gallon of liquid plastic.
For this project we're going to create our own USB hub, built into what we're going to create, in this case a wooden monitor stand. This isn't going to be any old stand though, it'll be one that mimics our Dell's oddly shaped base.
Into this we're going to put an old, powered USB hub and add a custom made one into the base as well. The result we're hoping for is a sweet-looking monitor stand that happens to have a handy built-in USB hub.
To make this happen we mostly need an old USB hub – preferably a powered one – plus some plywood that we can cut and sand into a polished finished item. We'll also need USB extension cables for each port. We'll keep the box construction to a basic level but we're still going to bevel its edges and glue the sides into place, which will need to set overnight.
Beyond this, the main thing to keep in mind is how much space will be required inside the stand to fit the original hub.
What you will need
Spare USB hub
Chisel and hammer
Wood glue/hot glue gun
How to make a hub of wood
1. Before you start, make sure your hub is going to fit inside your new stand either horizontally or vertically.
2. Measure the base and draw a cutting template from it. It'll be worthwhile to make the final stand a good 10mm wider all around, if not 20mm.
3. Use this template to cut out both the top and bottom wood sections from the chipboard.
4. Using a saw and chisel cut out a bevel all round to the width of chipboard that's going to create the sides. This will take a while but you can use the chisel to smooth out this bevel and sand it down for a good finish.
5. Cut the chipboard for the side panels into suitable lengths. Be careful to take into account how it will all fit together.
6. You'll need to cut holes for the USB ports. The full connector side is 17 x 11mm, aim to create a recessed finish 14 x 8mm.
7. Glue the panels together. For wood glue you'll need to leave these clamped overnight.
8. The stand will look a little rough at this point, fill gaps and cracks with wood filler. Use too much then wipe excess off with a damp cloth, let the rest set and sand it back to a smooth finish.
9. The easy way to install the hub is to plug in extension cables to the hub and epoxy the ends into position.
10. We decided to paint ours for the final product, as we used old chipboard that was lying around.
If you use plywood you'll have a far better wood finish that you can varnish or dye.
First published in PC Format Issue 244
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