case mod 101: stealth blowhole and case handles

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With the top panel off, this is an ideal opportunity to install handles. We’re taking a break from the blowhole for a moment, long enough to drill the holes for the handles. By using a piece of acrylic as a jig, we can locate the handles at equal distances from the ends of the panel, and align them to the centerline of the case. The jig is a piece of scrap acrylic sheet with holes spaced properly for our handle. Drill one hole, then mount the handle to the jig, then locate the second hole after squaring the handle to the edge of the jig. Locate a small hole centered between the handle mounts to allow the jig to be aligned to the centerline. Now we tape our panel, mark our centerline, position our jig, and punch starter holes using the jig as a guide. Drill the mounting holes, and attach the handles using washers on the back of the panel to distribute the force evenly. (These handles came from the clearance bin at a home improvement store. Keep an eye out, case modding supplies are everywhere.)

using a jig
the jig makes it easy to locate your holes precisely
drilling holes
drill out your holes
handles in place
affix your handles

To attach our fan mounting bolts to the back of the panel, use a two-part epoxy. Mix the adhesive according to the directions. Use a fan as a template to position the bolts. Cover the fan with a wire grille, and place a 1-1/2 inch bolt through each mounting hole, leaving the heads sticking up. Dab a small amount of epoxy onto each bolt head, then lower the panel over the bolts, sighting in on the grille to align the hole properly with the bolts. Once the epoxy is cured, use nuts (and rubber washers if noise is a concern) to secure the fan onto the mounting bolts. The stealth blowhole looks very low profile and clean.

clean blowhole
the clean look is very stylish
the finished top
the completed case top with handles and stealth blowholes

We’ll wrap up this session with a quick look at our panel installed back on the case. It looks great, and you’ve learned a case modder’s secret: using jigs to get precise alignment. We’ll tear back into the case next issue, but if you’re following along, you may want to rivet your panel back into place. Setting rivets is even easier than removing them, but it requires a rivet gun. Just place the mandrel of the rivet into the nosepiece, position the rivet in the hole and squeeze the handle until the rivet is set and the mandrel beaks off.

reinstalled top panel
two simple mods that add a lot of utility

holesaw hints

+ Put a backer board behind it so you don’t bend the metal making an exit wound.
+ Use some tool oil to lubricate the hole saw, go slowly, and stop to let it cool occasionally. You’ll ruin your saw with excessive heat.
+ Don’t even think about using the holesaw without the pilot bit. Unless you know the tricks and know what you’re doing that is.
+ Tape the painted surface, it will protect it a little bit from getting marred (but not enough really–make holes first *then* paint)
+ Holesaws and arbors are sold separately. Make sure you select an arbor that fits your drill and will work with your holesaw.
+ A 3 inch (76mm) holesaw will make the right sized opening for an 80mm fan.

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