Creating a Panel fitted in an old radio

I am currently converting an antique radio into a computer case. Circa 1930s. The back is open and originally has a cardboard-like material. I am having trouble figuring out how to fit a MDF panel to sit flush with the back (effectivly inset in the radio's back.) but it isn't an easy shape to fit. To make it more difficult it must be air-tight (i'll have to put some kind of weather stripping around the edges.
in short the back panel needs to open up like a door, but when closed is inset inside the radio's original housing.
My first tought was to try and build a board with a nail at 1 end pointing down with a pen at the opposite end then trace the interior boundaries and hope that I can keep the board straight as not to skew the pattern.
Any ideas on a simpler option? I am working with 1/2 inch MDF for the panel. I have the identical problem (sans the door part) for creating a bottom.
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Idgarad wrote:

Well, you could put some powdered chalk on the top of the lip and then press an oversized piece of whatever you want to use for a back on it. Might need a bit of file/plane work after you cut out the traced area.
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dadiOH
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Idgarad wrote:
<snip>

Tape a piece of paper across the back of the radio and rub the edge of a pencil point on the paper along the edge of the case.
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Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Nova wrote:

Bill
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http://nmwoodworks.com/cube


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If I'm picturing this correctly you have the bottom and the back off of the case.
Get some cardboard and secure a piece to the back, reach up into the case and trace the opening. Remove it and do the same for the bottom. After you have the cardboard tuned you can trace that as your pattern onto the MDF and cut it out with a jigsaw. I'd work on the outside of the line and then sand it for the finer fit.
I like working with cardboard since it's a lot easier to "adjust" thank wood. Cheaper too.
Good luck!
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The radio is 4 feet tall, my arm isn't big enough. Should I do 1/2 of it in that method for the back. The problem with the base is a bit worse as the "floor" is it's semi obstructed such that I can't fit a piece of cardboard in there (I was thinking of smashing in tinfoil to build up a template. very convoluted to get too i.e.
Front (looking top down) ######## # # ### ### # # ### ###
Side View at bottom (Tilde is where the board should go)
# ~~~~~~~~~ # ## ##
The back I think I can do in two parts no problem but the floor is the trick now. Should I just try and break it up into sections then reassemble the pattern?
On a side note, what could I use to seal up the eedges of the door area for a nice (in function and appearance) to restrict air flow?
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<snip>

I'm not a radio guy, but I've built more than a few computers over the years. Why do you want to restrict airflow for a computer case? It'll cook the insides and die pretty quickly, unless you never turn it on.
Patriarch
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So I can control the air flow. If the case has too much open air it becomes harder to get the air to move from outside the case, into the case, and then back out. Poor airflow can generate hot spots and this thing is going to be containing 16 hard drives. So I need to make sure I can control the airflow. There will be a main air intake where the old speak was with a 3 part air filter (cloth = decorative, auto-air fliter particulate, grounded screen (charged particle catch)) then the air flow will be split between the Hard disk housing and the rest of the system. The disk area will be directly vented out by a 240mm exhaust fan at low rpms) and the rest of the system will be water cooled to ambient with some minor air flow via a 120mm fan and a radiator (roughtle two 120s side by side)
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Is there any concern about the appearance of the *inside* of the case?
If not, place the base on a piece of cardboard and use spray/spatter painting to outline the pattern. Use children's washable paint in a color that's a close match to the inside of the case. Use a toothbrush to "spatter paint" the smallest corners.

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Idgarad wrote:

the cardboard and trace the outline. Do the same for the bottom.
I presume the thickness of the case is the same all around the case. If that is not the case you should be able to adjust for this in the next step. Use this measurement to "redraw" the outline to the inside dimension of the back and the bottom. While doing this you can think about how you want to seal the back and bottom and compensate for this in the final inside dimension.
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How about using the foil as a general guide, transferring it to cardboard, cut the cardboard into sections that you can tape together (the tape will act like hinges), that way you can bend the piece to fit it in and still get a relatively good fit.
Or you could go with construction paper, which would allow you a lot more flex during the fitting process. If worse comes to worse section off the base and do it in pieces, maybe half and half, tape them together, cut out a cardboard mock up and go from there.
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how about using the solid surface/granite countertop installer's template trick? make a pile of thin lath-like strips of wood and assemble them into a template with hot glue in place. then lay that over your material and trace around it.
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Build a large shalow pan. Big enough for the case to sit in while lying on it's back. Wax it up real well and build it with a draft angle. Fill with plaster. Lay case in plaster (wax case too). You have a pattern.

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