Find out how to make a Waterblock which performs on par with some of the best commercials blocks out there!
I'd like to start with stating the intentions of this article. It is not my aim to sell blocks so don't look at this how-to as a commercial. The goal is to motivate you, yes why not you, to consider making your own block too. You won't make big bucks doing so without disproportionate high investments though. The method I would like to get you acquainted with will show you how to do so with the most limited investment. This means however that making 1 block will cost you a lot of hours, but the 10th will still be hard to make under 10hrs. I can only hope that some will see that it isn't one big mission impossible, but a dozen of doable steps. The advantage that you guys will have over me is that i will inform you of the snake pits i blindly fell into. I will also do my best to accompany every step with the tools/cost needed.
Reasons not to even start thinking of making your own custom block:
Everything else considered there were 2, oops forgot one, 3 reasons holding me back. I will tackle them one by one.
Price: it is easy to look at the popular commercial blocks and think about all the machinery needed to make them perfectly, as they are. If you would like to make a maze3 block that would take a CNC mill that is 3-axis programmable. I would estimate this costs you around 100.000$ for a good one. But you forgot that other option: the 'Humanoid CNC-machine'. It is known for its moderate accuracy and incredible tenacity when the labour gets tough.
It's just impossible: I mean, look at all that shining plexi and silver lining, ooh, did I forget that hard looking copper? Let’s start out with a lesson in life, don't expect that your first attempt at the long jump will get you an Olympic gold medal. Decent craftsmanship might not turn the heads of all those supermodels looking at your awesome water cooling rig, but wait till you tell them you made it with your bare hands.
Are you crazy: c’mon, mere mortals don't craft things out of raw metal! That's a job for dwarves, no?
This is one of those tales where you meet someone who seems to go out of his way to help other people. There are a lot of incredible people all over the globe without whom this endeavour would have never even happened, more about that later. But it all stands or falls with the inventor of the poor man's block making method. Meet #rotor. Not only did he invent the method, but he also helps n00bs with precious advice to get started and overcome their fears. My Croatian friend Puzzdre was giving #rotor's method a go, and steadily i kept interrupting them. The whole thread is like a novel with a beginning and 22 pages later a happy ending. Those two tackled all my fears one by one and guided me through the process of drilling, dremel-ing, tapping and sealing up the actual block. The actual method #rotor invented handles the way we will make channels into the copper bar, so the water can flow from inlet to outlet. More about the specifics later.
Getting your hands on some copper:
If one thinks logically, one has to start off by acquiring a bar of copper. Living in Belgium where there is only a very small block making community, makes it impossible to buy a small amount off another crazy hobbyist. Finally this made me grab the yellow pages and do a search on companies that provide copper and aluminium bars. After numerous calls, the best i could find was a company that was willing to sell me a bar of minimum 6 metres. Yeah, real funny guys, ok so this means that me ..., my children ..., and lots more generations to come could enjoy the copper stock their crazy granddad bought. But in the end it cost me about 20$/m, which isn't too large a setback.
Something to keep in mind deciding on the section:
You can get anything you want, Intel boys might want to buy a bar that is 60mm wide, I decided on 50mm width as that is perfect for the Socket A motherboard holes.
The thickness can be anything around 5 - 10mm. If price is an issue, the copper is sold by the kg, so the smaller the section, the less money it will cost you. I won't get into the physics but, on average 1kg of copper costs about 4,5$ in Belgium. My 50x10x6000mm bar weighed in at 27kg. Maths, who ever thought they'd need that out of school.