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Building a custom tool chest from old computer server cases and server racks

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posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 02:13 AM
I'm in the process of scrapping a large amount of servers (about 84U worth, so 2, 42U full racks - each 6ft), and for those who don't know the rack is about 21-23" wide with the servers being 19.5" wide and the deepest server is 39" and they can all be pulled out like a drawer, all the way, all 39" (some are 29-39" deep). The height is measured in "U" (I guess it's units) which is 1.75", so 2U is 3.5" high , 3U is 5.25", 4U =6", 5U = 7.75" and 6U - 9.5". There are some that are more than 6U like battery backups and such but most are between 1-4U.

The rails that allow to pull the server out are very heavy duty, my 3U is rated at 200lbs.

I have all the empty cases which I would need to modify a little by grinding out a little metal here and there, or cutting it, so the bottom is flat, and the front has nice handles to be able to pull the new "drawers" out, but I might make a new facade for each drawer so they match and there could even be custom cutouts to mount things like a rack mounted volt meter, power supply, and any other electronics you could think of.

The rest could be normal storage for tools or anything you like, even spot/tack weld areas to hold different things like a divided drawer.

The thing is that I've NEVER seen anyone do this, nothing on Youtube or Instructables about anything like this.

Here is a close example of a tool chest of similar size - $1600 A Snap-On (that won't hold the weight this will) is more like $5,000.

I was thinking of cutting it down to 28-32" or whatever height needed to make it a rollable worktable, I have 8 500lb casters, and would add a 1.5-2" butcher-block table top, and if I do this, I'll make it 3 units wide for about 63-66"

The thing about this setup is that it gives you 36-39" depth vs 24" depth that even snap-on tool chests offer (and they only come out 65-80% due to weight - making the slides much more expensive). Some of the slides/rails for my 5U are almost $300 each new (but pennies in resale or scrap) b/c they have to support a 250-300+lb server/UPS pulled out all the way.

I know a lot of you guys love your tools and I just can't allow myself to drop all this stuff off at the scrap yard at $.05/lb! I'm planning on building an entire electrical drawer for high power DC voltages from 1.2v to 60-80, then maybe an AC one as well with an double insulated/isolated inner drawer (insulated & isolated 2x) which shouldn't be a problem since the rack had over 44kw running through it when it was full of servers, so it is made for high current & voltage DC as well as AC.

I'm just trying to figure out other ideas to do with this and whether the worktable surface is a good idea, or maybe do a full 6ft rack, then 2 shorter ones with work space on them, and make it so the tall one can be seperated if room/space is an issue.

Anyone have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions on a project like this?

On another note, I can run power into the back of every drawer (it has cable management in the back to handle this so it doesn't tangle) and can then plug in any tool from an outlet/plug inside the drawer or mount a plug on the front of one, some, all of the drawers. No need for extension cords, power strips or anything anymore. I can also run an air hose connection around waist height on the front of a drawer.

When you build it yourself there are so many options and you don't have the worry about messing up something you just spend lots of good $$ on (voiding warranty at that).

Can also paint the whole thing with HVLP or even electrostatic baked paint. Maybe there is a market for some awesome custom tool cabinets?
edit on 12 31 2018 by DigginFoTroof because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 02:38 AM
a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Good on ya mate.

Champion idea.

Regards to you and yours for the new year.


posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 04:58 AM

I am redoing a rack room at work, you have given me much to think of.

posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 06:46 AM

originally posted by: theatreboy

I am redoing a rack room at work, you have given me much to think of.

My dad has some really nice Craftsman took chests (5.5ft tall or so) but a lot of the drawers are 1" high and lots of the tools get stuck when pulling the drawer out.

One of the nice things about using an old server is that you can lock each drawer individually, so it can't be pulled out AND you can lock the top lid of the server if you want to do that. You can even use the lid (while the drawer is pulled out) as a table-top to put things on temporarily.

posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 07:09 AM
a reply to: DigginFoTroof

I do have a server always pulled out to put my laptop in. But i am def going to modify some old ones! Send pics when you are done, i am curious.

posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 12:41 PM
a reply to: DigginFoTroof


I am so fracking jealous. I was starting to drool a little bit as I pictured all of that sweet rack-mounted equipment begging to be given a second life.

Please post some pictures as you go along, including what the racks look like right now. Looking forward to seeing them!


posted on Dec, 31 2018 @ 12:49 PM
Love to see pics of your project!
I've sent lots of that stuff to the recycle yard.
Would be nice to see it put to good use.

so, post some pictures!

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