Update - Sides Part 1, and Bottom
Today I started working on the side panels. I began by combining the pieces which will make the left and right sides, ship lapping them together:
The overlap gives the joint much more strength, and doubles the glue surface compared to just butting the edges together. It also doesn't require the cuts to be perfect, although they were pretty close here. The disadvantage is that it never comes out just right, and needs a lot of sanding later on. On a related note, what is 1/2 inch minus 1/2 inch? Apparently, about 0.004 inches, the same thickness as a piece of paper
Matching the grain is important. You'll always be able to see the line between the pieces if you're looking for it, but if the grain is continuous across the joint, no one will notice.
These were then glued and clamped together. There was no good way to clamp down on the joint... I figured 75 pounds of lead should do the trick.
Next, I cut the top, bottom, front, and back panels to size, and cut the grooves that allow them to fit together, and give the left and right sides something to slide into. This picture I like to call "Don't use the fence on a small piece when you're that far away from it, you idiot." It's on the inside of the back, but the edge is going to show... I'll figure something out, maybe glue a small piece of wood in the gap. Could have been a lot worse, table saws can easily throw a piece of wood across the room.
On the bottom of the front and back, I have a difficult cut... the front and back need a notch to mate with the bottom, but the edge needs to remain intact for the sides to slide into. To accomplish this, I did a plunge cut (pushing the piece down onto the spinning blade, which is generally a bad idea), then finished it off with a chisel. It's not perfect, but this gets glued anyways, so it won't ever show.
Every side except the left has at least one cutout for various components... I started on the bottom because I both know where everything goes, and my mistakes wouldn't show as much. Here are the three cuts for the bottom piece marked out, all air intakes: A low speed 80 mm fan to cool the motherboard chipset, a passive intake, and a second passive intake which also provides access to the HDD cage. You'll see how these line up with the frame in a few more pictures.
Cutting these shapes out was a challenge; I considered freehanding on a router table, but decided this was a bad idea, especially after I screwed up the back on the table saw. I ultimately went with drilling holes in each of the corners, and using a scroll saw between them. The drill bit I used is called a Forstner... it makes very precise and clean holes, and is normally used for installing locks or other hardware. We happened to have a set, so I figured why not use them.
Here's an example of the holes they drill:
I drilled holes in each corner, then cut between the holes with a scroll saw.
The result was pretty rough, I'm worried about using this technique for the top and front of the case. I did get a bit better at it by the third cutout though, so maybe with the practice of the back I'll be okay.
Enough sanding can fix just about any problem... All three cutouts cleaned up pretty nicely. It's possible to get nice square corners by cutting back in the other direction, but I liked how the rounded corners look, so I left them.
Here's how it looks with the frame on top, everything lined up pretty well. It will of course need more sanding (which is about half the work I'm doing it seems like), but the frame is square, which was one of my concerns.
I then glued the bottom onto the frame. There's a huge glue surface, so I opted not to go with any fasteners. Also, I think I need more clamps, there's about 2 inches in the back without one.
Tomorrow I think I'll start by figuring out the exact placement of the motherboard tray and making the back panel, then going from there.