Looking for a good storage solution for your CDs or DVDs? Then welcome the acrylic glass MDF panel arbitrary background picture CD holder. Not only for kids.

We had a plan: Let us organize all those music and audio book CDs with two CD storage car sun visors. Pull them out, push them in, very easy! The reality: Yes, pulling out is easy. But no, putting them back tidily is complicated. Virtually impossible. Ok, no difference to the other stuff that is taken out of boxes, drawers, or shelves and scattered to the four winds. 😉 So let’s face reality: The plan failed!

It’s time for a different storage solution.

Project Description

Take a wooden panel. Put a nice picture on the panel to increase the CAF (children’s acceptance factor) as well as the CF (coolness factor) alongside the SOF (show off factor). Cover the picture with a 2 mm acrylic glass plate. Stick about two dozen CD glue dots made of rigid foam on the acrylic glass to act as CD holders. Hang the CD holder on the wall in the children’s room. Put the CDs on the glue dots. See what happens.

Payload

1 x MDF (medium density fiberboard) panel 1188 x 420 x 3 mm
1 x acrylic glass 1188 x 420 x 2 mm
1 x spray paint, white, silk mat
2 x wooden strip 2400 x 14 x 14 mm (used 3104 mm)
1 x sanding surfacer
8 x 3D printed clamp to hold acryl glass on MDF panel

Wood glue, screws, sanding paper.

Howto

Rasterbated figure for CD holder The picture mentioned in the project description will be made up of four printed DIN A3 sheets. The dimensions of one DIN A3 sheet are 42 x 29,7 cm. Putting four sheets beneath each other results in the target size of the MDF panel being 118,8 x 42 cm. We use The Rasterbator to create a PDF photomaster from the picture I’d like to use. The picture to the right shows the resulting four DIN A3 sheets.

Since the CD holder will have to be mounted somewhere it must not be too heavy. Thus, I decide on a 3 mm MDF panel. Thin as it is, the MDF panel is unstable so I will assemble a frame made of 14 x 14 mm wooden strips on the backside. This frame will a) stabilize the construct and b) allow easier installation of the CD holder to a wall or wardrobe.

Take a look at the 3D drawing to see how the frame is attached to the panel; click the picture to enlarge. I also added the exact dimensioning: Since the wooden strips are 14 x 14 mm I decided to indent the frame 14 mm on each side of the panel. That should give some kind of a floating impressions when the CD holder has been mounted.

CD Holder panel and frame

The MDF panel is 118,8 x 42 cm. Thus, we need two wooden strips with a length of 116 cm (118,8-2*1,4) and two with a length of 36,4 cm (42-4*1,4). The four parts are pre-drilled, glued and then screwed together. After that the frame is glued to the backside of the panel and additionally fixed with woodscrews on the front side.
Screw not sunk in I screwed them in without pre-drilling which was a mistake since the MDF is so dense that I was not able to sink the heads of the woodscrews into the MDF. All Screw sunk in screws looked more or less like the one shown in the picture. Steep learning curve. 😉 The screws must not stick out like this since they are on the front side of the panel where we need a planar surface to attach the DIN A3 sheets. Rework: I let the glue dry, remove the screws, post-drill the holes to a diameter roughly the size of the screw’s heads and, finally, sink the screws into the panel. There you go!

Next step: Use surfacer to fill the screw holes and smoothen the visible parts of the frame for spray painting. After applying the first layer of surfacer it has to dry. Afterwards everything gets sanded. One layer was not enough to get a planar surface on the sunk screws so I applied a second layer of surfacer on the screw holes. Sanding again. Since I did not want to win the 1st prize in a surface sanding and smoothness contest I moved on to spray painting the (visible parts of the) panel with silk mat white spray paint. It was a very good decision to do that in the garden! Spray paint everywhere, especially on the grass surrounding the panel. Would have been an even better idea to wear a dust mask… For a first time sanding and spray painting job the result is quite presentable.

CD holder sprayed front and back

When the paint has dried it’s time to hang the panel on the righthand side of our wardrobe. I consider a couple of possibilities to attach the panel and finally decide on the most direct method: Use four screws to screw that thing to the wardrobe (with pre-drilling the holes). Since the frame did not completely stabilize the MDF panel this is the minimally invasive method I can come up with to have the panel stick to the wardrobe as tight and close as possible. As soon as the panel is mounted and I start to attach the rasterbatorized DIN A3 sheets I realize that it would have been much easier to attach them before the panel was mounted. Too late. I use double-faced adhesive tape, usually used for photo books, to stick the sheets one by one to the panel. Here is what it looks like.

CD holder with attached picture

While the 3mm MDF panel was very cheap, just 2,79 € at the local hardware store, I had to search for quiet some time to find a dealer that sells the acrylic glass with dimensions 1188 x 420 x 2 mm for less than 30,- €. Acrylic glass is not that expensive in standard sizes but pre-cutted acrylic parts are, unfortunately, high priced. Now that the acrylic glass had been delivered, how to attach it to the MDF panel? I could drill holes and screw them together. Or I could use glue to tie them together for all eternity. But what if we would like to change the picture? Screwing takes time. Glue sounds to final. I thought that clipping or clamping the MDF and the acrylic panel together should be the best way to go and was, again, scouring the Internet for appropriate parts. After trying the Rapesco Supaclip 40 (too thin, too sharp-edged) and this pretty rare large slide clip (too big) I decided to design and 3D print the clamps on my own.

After exactly measuring the thickness of the acrylic-glass-paper-MDF-panel stack with a sliding calliper I constructed a clamp using SketchUp. Two test prints later I had ten ideal sized clamps that locked the acrylic glass snugly into position on the MDF panel. Here’s the 3D drawing of the clamp and a picture of 8 of the 10 printed clamps (PLA); click to enlarge the 3D drawing. The STL file is available for download.

CD holder clamps

We are ready for the final assembly stage: Glue dots and CDs! You will find a lot of offers for 16mm diameter CD glue dots on eBay, e.g., here. They are available in different colors but black and white prevail. It took a bit of thinking and patience to evenly distribute the glue dots over the acrylic glass plate. The CDs should have the same space between each other and to the sides of the panel. Tricky, since the glue dots stick like hell. No chance for trial and error. The result would not pass remeasurement but it’s ok from a distance.

CD holder glue dots and CDs

In the picture you can see on the left-hand side the CD holder with attached acrylic glass plate using the clamps. Second to left a couple of glue spots. Second to right 15 attached glue spots and 14 CDs. Rightmost picture: This is it! The finished CD holder with a full cast of 27 CDs. Click picture to see a bigger version of the final result.

Yes, you will not be able to gloat over the nice picture in the background. At least not if the CD holder is full to the brim. But design is about form that follows function. Right? 😉

i.f.

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