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Redoing my Controls... Please criticize!


After 20 years, I am redoing my panel.     This is attached to a fullsize cabinet.

I want this version to hinge up and towards me, and Im thinking of putting some small hinges on the underlip (the edge closest to the 'player'). This is for maintenance purposes.  My current version is fixed without hinges and a nightmare to maintain!  Plus I want new hardware so im starting from scratch.

Lots of odd angles here and there... is this too challenging for a woodworker to complete?  I am concerned about all the angled cuts required to make this work.

I am looking at having someone with the right tools complete it locally.   Or is there a known trusted service around here for this?


And here is my proposed layout.     Do you guys think the trackball will be OK with that small clearance?   I expect to have to route all that area and leave a 1/8" thin surface on the mdf.

The angles shouldn't be a big deal. More important though is your plan for hinging the front with that relative overhang. That is also doable but would require some planning and design so that the hinges aren't noticeable and still work with the overhang. Basically the mortises for the hinges would just have to be pulled back from the edge on the control board and you'd have to have the correct hinges. Lots of choices there. Another option would be to use a Salice type hinge which might work. Probably worth doing a mockup for that with cheap stuff.

Is this mocked up in something like sketchup, fusion or something similar? If so you can determine all the angles from your CAD to give to the woodworker. I wonder if those angled support brackets that you are asking to support that long cantilevered piece of MDF should be longer and more robust for stability? I assume there is unused room back there between the controls that could hold a larger support bracket. If you need passthroughs for wires they could be routed in the brackets while still providing better overall support for the control board and decrease the chance of warping.

On the layout, your trackball is pretty close to the through holes on the left for the buttons. Any reason you couldn't shift the larger pockets for the trackball and joystick a bit to the right to create more clearance and provide more strength? MDF isn't the most robust material for such narrow clearance particularly since you will likely be mashing on those buttons for a long time.

Thanks Richard for the thorough review!

Yes I could make the supports longer, there is space.   I did build an almost exact panel 20 years ago (I still have it) and it held up very well and super strong, but in that version the top panel was permanently glued/attached.  No hinging. I will look into making the 2 supports longer.

I was thinking of a simple set of hinges under the front lip.  It cannot be seen from the standing or sitting position, so im not too concerned about the cleanliness of it.   Alternatively, I may just screw the lid shut from underneat, in a way that I can easily maintain in the future and open up.... this wont happen often, so a hinge is probably overkill.

I made it all in solidworks and yes I already have the angles laid out!


Another alternative would be to use rare earth magnets to keep things in place when the panel is closed. I see you are in Ohio.  I could probably knock this out for you but shipping decent sized pieces of 3/4 MDF might make it impractical. I'm in Houston. If you want to send me your final DXF to have a look at, happy to do so and will keep it confidential.


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