In this project I use two Ikea Lack coffee tables to build a mobile server rack to be used for a networking class and later as a home server rack. This project adds several materials to the flat pack furniture to give it mobility, added strength, and user friendly features in its new re-purposed life. This is the first post in a series documenting its conception, construction, and final use.
This project started with a conversation almost a year ago in a game design class. I was talking with Flint about server racks and one of us brought up the idea of a mobile server rack. How nice it would be to have a mobile rack that could be wheeled in to a classroom and back to the lab. A search online found some very expensive equipment that would do exactly what we wanted. We are both college students and could not afford to buy one of these mobile racks. I suggest that it could be built with a cart and modifying a two post rack.
Several months passed and I mention needing a cheap server rack to someone else who suggests the ‘Lack Rack’. I looked it up and sure enough lots of people have been using Ikea furniture for rack mount gear. Later I run in to Flint again and he asks if I was still thinking about building a mobile rack. I tell him about the Ikea furniture hacks and we started deciding what this mobile rack would need.
This rack needs to host two full length servers and 10U worth of Cisco routing and switching gear for classwork. The rack needs to be easily movable and obviously must fit through standard doors. It would also be nice to have space next to the Cisco equipment to place a notebook computer for programming the gear and connecting to the servers housed below.
The Lack end table will not hold a full length server. Looking on Ikea’s website I found that the Lack coffee table has dimensions that will work better for a full length server. A search online found that this is the enterprise edition of the Lack rack. The coffee table is a little short to reach table height so two of them will have to be use. The nearest Ikea store to me is about a two hour drive. That is a bit of a drive for coffee table or two. When I was able to get to Ikea I picked up three of the coffee tables, one extra just in case.
On assembling the first one I noticed that they are very lightweight. The thin material making the top of the table didn’t seem likely to hold up to being flipped upside down and having wheels attached. Reinforcement would be needed to make sure this doesn’t just fall apart on its first use. In addition to that frame the servers will have to mount to something more sturdy than the hallow legs of the coffee tables. Rack rails used for building audio cabinets have the same vertical spacing as server rack rails. Now we have enough for a materials list and a plan for assembly.
- 2 Ikea Lack Coffee Tables
- 4 casters, 2 locking, 2 free
- 16 lag bolts for casters
- 16 wood screws for frame (I use self drilling deck screws)
- 2 cut 2×4’s 21.625 inches
- 2 cut 2×6’s 45degrees angle inside measurement 21.625 inches
- 2 cut 2×6’s 45degrees angle inside measurement 35.5 inches
- 3 sets of rack rails (two sets to support full length servers, one set for the top)
- Angle Iron and sheet metal (measurements will come later still working on this)
- Wood saw
- Screw driver
- Tape measure or yard stick
- Large miter box or square capable of measuring 45 degree angel
- Sliding Compound miter saw or circular saw and steady hand
- Variable speed drill
- Drill bit (exact size will depend on size of lag bolts)
- Screw driver bits
- Welder with associated safety equipment and consumables (more on this later)