Working with copper tubing is simple. You’ll need a few specialized tools (under $40 US) and maybe a little practice if you’ve never soldered with a propane torch before. Before we get started, I’d like to take a minute to talk a little bit about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow the instructions that come with your propane torch. And there’s no more important safety equipment than these safety glasses. I think that’s how the dude in the overalls says it on The New Yankee Workshop. Let it be known that I don’t like Yankees all that much, though. They talk funny.
Here is a picture of those specialized tools I mentioned earlier. Propane torch, tubing cutters (big & small), sandpaper, lead-free solder, drill, rivet gun and a box of pop rivets. You’ll need a small can of paste flux for soldering too. Nothing expensive there, right?
Some of the tools
Copper tubing comes in several sizes (diameters) along with a huge variety of fittings that make it easy to work around any issue you might come across during construction. Dry-fit the parts as you assemble them, then solder it together permanently. Assembly techniques and how-to guides for working with copper tubing are certainly available somewhere on the internet, and they’ll do a much better job of teaching you than I ever will. Here’s a sample of the materials I used for my case, including bright aluminum window screen, aluminum roof flashing, aluminum angle stock, ½” copper tubing, and a few common fittings.
I started by making a basic framework of tubing to support the powersupply/CDROM and the steel motherboard mounting plate. The layout of the components was similar to a standard tower case – because that made for the best use of space. The frame of the case went together quickly. I used pop-rivets to fasten the motherboard mounting tray and powersupply/CDROM support rails. When I had all of the hardware mounted onto the frame, it looked so stupid that I thought about scrapping everything and starting over. It wasn’t until I made the first side panel that it started to look better.
The side panels (and top panel) are simply square frames of copper tubing with aluminum window screen stretched across the opening and riveted from behind. The panels clip onto the framework using ½” copper strap hangers which are riveted to the panels from behind. The front panel uses aluminum roof flashing instead of window screen and, looking back, the top panel probably should have been made the same way. Threaded rods with brass thumbscrews are used to suspend the top panel and allow for easy removal. The front panel is fastened with brass thumbscrews as well. I never got around to making a hinged cover to hide the CDROMs. It would have improved the appearance a great deal. Carrying a project to 95% completion, then abandoning it, seems to be my trademark.