I’m seriously considering hacking a Mac, and I’d like your opinion. No, I’m not talking about software, I mean with a hacksaw.
[Update: Problem solved. Mac not hacked.]

The problem is, I have this new Pentax K20D that shoots 14.6MP images, and when Lightroom goes to work on them my poor little Blackbook tends to breathe hard and whine a lot. Plus there’s a lot of HD video that’s so far been write-only and I can’t really imagine that it’ll make the laptop happy either.

Now, I have a Sun Ultra 20 and it’s a meat-grinder all right, but if I wanted to use Lightroom on it that’d have to be Windows, which I prefer to avoid. Also, I need to use that for Solaris and some Web work, so I bought a Mac Pro and the Ultra will move downstairs.

Sun Ultra 20 and Mac Pro

But there’s a problem. The Mac won’t fit in this nice piece of furniture we have that makes the computer available in the living room without having to look at it. It’s a serious problem; our house is kind of small for a family of four and there’s really absolutely no other good place for a stationary computer.

However, there is a solution: cut the handles off.

Mac with hacksaw

Without the handles, it’ll slip right in. I took a couple of strokes with Lauren’s hacksaw and sure ’nuff, it’ll do the job.

This does feel like kind of a drastic measure, so I thought I’d ask for other opinions. The survey’s now off, but here’s how you voted.

Solution · Lauren, who’s much more mechanically inclined than me, figured out that the space was big enough, there was just a lip around the front keeping us from squeezing the Mac in. So she got a saw that wasn’t a hacksaw, and opened up the flimsy plywood back of the desk. There was already a hole there for wires and ventilation; now it’s much bigger. The Mac slipped right in.

Macbook Pro mounted in position

I only very slightly regret not using the hacksaw. As for the commenters who were urging me on, some of you guys are sick puppies.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: BWJones (Apr 04 2008, at 21:22)

Yikes! Bold move. I'd like to see a Macpro case with the handles removed from a purely voyeuristic perspective I suppose...

Ideally, what I would like is a mid-tower option with four cores and two hard drives.


From: Drew (Apr 04 2008, at 22:18)

I'll one up on crazy solutions:

Take one of these


and mount it to your basement ceiling under a spot where you could route a video cable through.

As an added bonus the floor should mute the fan noise.


From: Jay Shepherd (Apr 04 2008, at 22:24)

What about the heat that will be generated from the MacPro in that tight spot?


From: thunk (Apr 04 2008, at 22:29)

Well, the mac pro has been rumored to be up for a redesign, which might give you another option. But who knows when that may happen. My guess is when nehalem is in volume this fall Apple will redo the pro because of the new memory architecture and because it's been awhile.

But isn't it a crime that Apple doesn't have a headless midrange? I've held off upgrading my G4 for ages because of this, the pro isn't in the right price range and the mini doesn't do dual monitors and has other deficiencies.


From: walter (Apr 04 2008, at 22:52)

why not sleep on it and see if another solution presents itself... can you sit it on it's side? will it fit flat? can put elsewhere...


From: George Phillips (Apr 04 2008, at 23:17)

If you only need to chop one end, do the bottom ones. Those handles are very handy for lugging the beast around.


From: Darren (Apr 05 2008, at 00:37)

Incidentally, SurveyMonkey seems kind of like overkill for a one-question survey. I've had good luck with PollDaddy.com, though BlogPoll.com has been satisfactory (if less slick) as well.


From: Fred Blasdel (Apr 05 2008, at 01:23)

I recently had to use a hacksaw to get a Mac Pro to fit into something — except I cut out a portion of the 19" rack in a podium that the Pro was going into, instead of hacking at the computer.

Be forewarned that if you hack off the ears, you'll have to de-burr the remains with a dremel to avoid super-sharp jaggies, and your case may lose some structural integrity (it may vibrate more).


From: Codepope (Apr 05 2008, at 01:39)

Just a thought but what's the structure of the cabinet like? Would it be possible to cut the bottom of the cabinet out... this would also have the advantage of giving a freer flow of air for the Mac Pro.


From: Alan Phillips (Apr 05 2008, at 04:35)

If you decide to do this, two obvious things to watch for:

1. Removing handles may affect the heat dissipation (putting computer in small cabinet will make this issue even more critical).

2. Be careful with the resulting metal shavings. Completely remove the guts of the computer and do this hacksaw hack in another location. Triple clean the Mac of all metal shavings before assembly.



From: Dr (Apr 05 2008, at 05:15)

Cut the furniture's bottom, So that the mac sits on the floor.


From: Weiqi Gao (Apr 05 2008, at 05:19)

How about hacking the furniture? You don't have to do anything too dramatic. Just take the bottom panel out, and you can slide the furniture over the Mac.


From: razmaspaz (Apr 05 2008, at 05:58)

I'm finding it hard to believe that there is no other way to get those handles off. I would be most worried about heat dissipation after you cut the bottom ones off and stuck it in that tight space. There are a lot of cores in there, and the Pros, at least they used to, have a lot of heat problems. Though that might have been a strictly G5 problem.


From: Alan Little (Apr 05 2008, at 06:27)

If it matters to you, used Powermacs / Mac pros tend to have remarkably high resale values compared to used PCs. This one post-surgery wouldn't.

(I have a standing offer to buy my G5 Powermac from a friend of a friend who's working on gcc for 64 bit PowerPC, and having difficulty finding a suitable testbed. Despite which I still can't afford a Mac Pro just yet)


From: Fabian Ritzmann (Apr 05 2008, at 06:39)

Leaping over the boundaries of politeness and good taste here, but that's OK since we don't know each other and you mentioned the word philistine first (in the survey). :-) The owner of that cupboard certainly deserves the attribute philistine. Move into the modern age and get yourself something nice looking from Ikea or any Scandinavian or Italian furniture store.


From: Mark (Apr 05 2008, at 06:50)

I always hated those handles, especially in the plastic case days.

If you do this, video it and put it on YouTube. I guarantee it will go nuclear. You'll get a lot of new RSS subscribers out of it.


From: Dave (Apr 05 2008, at 07:12)

I'd recommend taping up all the ventilation holes before you start -- keeps all stray metal shards out of the innards.


From: Bob Aman (Apr 05 2008, at 08:00)

Ok, this may just be me... but personally, I would hack the desk rather than the other way around. Cut a whole in the bottom and have the Mac rest directly on the floor maybe?


From: D Grady (Apr 05 2008, at 08:05)

You should definitely hack them off. Then tie them to your belt, and get us a picture.


From: John Minnihan (Apr 05 2008, at 09:33)

Hack the cabinet, not the Mac.


From: Carolyn (Apr 05 2008, at 09:43)

On a tangent…

I was reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (paperback version) and still, the book was so heavy it was bothering my wrists to hold it, so after I got past page 1,000 (that’s a lot of patience and pain!) I ripped the book apart to read the remaining pages. I horrified my librarian friends, but my wrists felt better.


(Vote: hack!)


From: Jeremiah (Apr 05 2008, at 10:17)

Even if you cut the handles off, you're not going to be able to use it in the cabinet. it is intended to have constant airflow running through it. if you close it in, the fans will go crazy and it will overheat.

That's my feeling anyway.


From: David (Apr 05 2008, at 10:21)

That's a HOT machine -- take the back of the cabinet off for ventilation, while you're hacking.

Oh, and don't hack the machine :)


From: Francis Hwang (Apr 05 2008, at 10:25)

Not that I know a lot about furniture, but isn't it possible that sawing out part of the cabinet bottom would affect the structural integrity of the cabinet?


From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Apr 05 2008, at 11:08)

I agree with the person who says he can't believe there isn't a better way to get the handles off.

I'm sure the case _opens_ somehow. Look for machine screws with heads on the inside of the case that screw into the handles.


From: David Smith (Apr 05 2008, at 13:18)

Hack the Macintosh or the furniture? Let's see - computers last what, 3-4 years at most, while furniture can have a half-life of centuries (if it's nice) or just decades (if it's Ikea-ish).

See to the cooling, but it's an object - trim the protrusions off.


From: len (Apr 05 2008, at 14:34)

A growing family needs a bigger house. As those kids gain bulk, the backseat of a four banger won't cut it.

Rent or buy, but put some distance between the kids room's and your own. If real estate in mooseland is doing what it's doing in the states, there are deals and by the time you want to put it back on the market, it will be a seller's market again.

Ya just can't live that groovin' lifestyle with yard apes to tend. Sad but so.


From: DJ (Apr 05 2008, at 21:48)

len said: "If real estate in mooseland is doing what it's doing in the states..."

Just the opposite, len.


From: paul (Apr 05 2008, at 23:36)

I think by the time you get the handles off, file down the jagged bits, make sure it still works (ie doesn't over heat and you didn't get any shards inside the case), you could have found a better solution. At the very least, it doesn't seem like a great use of anyone's time: anyone who can afford a Mac Pro is probably going to be able to find a way to get what they want. A different cabinet, a different room for it, maybe a new case: who knows?

Looking at that butt-ugly Sun box against the Pro, I understand why people put computers in cabinets, but it looks like one of those companies didn't want to make it mandatory ;-)


From: Unfazed (Apr 06 2008, at 00:18)

1. Thank your wife.

2. You just missed a colossal opportunity to get about 50,000 views of what should have been a "How I Butchered a MacPro" video on YouTube. Well done!

3. Thank your wife, again.


From: len (Apr 06 2008, at 03:06)

Too bad, DJ. It sounds like Frostbite Falls filled up with squirrels when Boris and Natasha took over Fatland.


From: Jacek (Apr 06 2008, at 05:49)

Hi Tim, great that you didn't have to hack those handles, even tho I voted for it. I have two small ongoing bugs to report, though:

1) it's probably not intentional that your picture of the mac with the saw is bigger in the text than it is behind the link; I suspect there's a height limit missing in some resizing script.

2) please add the link to add a comment also at the end of the page; after going through the comments, when I want to add mine, I gotta scroll to an undetermined position in the page (undetermined as far as the scrollbar goes) to be able to do so.

But I won't bug you about it if you don't fix these; the content of ongoing is well worth bearing with the little things. 8-)


From: Kman (Apr 06 2008, at 17:10)

Where did you get the desk? I've been looking for something just like that.


From: paul (Apr 08 2008, at 13:22)

I learned some time ago never to trust a software engineer with any hand tools. Ms Woods' skill set is more varied than that, it seems.


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April 04, 2008
· Technology (90 fragments)
· · Mac OS X (118 more)

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