document updated 14 years ago, on Dec 22, 2008
The benefits of rack mounting includes:

normal-size rackmount

Professional-grade computer rackmounts are nice, but are almost universally priced out of the range of home users, probably because there aren't many home users. So they have to resort to repurposing audio racks (which mostly have the same dimensions, but are targetted towards more economical users), or otherwise fabricate most of the rack themselves.

mini rackmount

Sometimes there are a lot of smaller devices (USB hub, network switch, KVM, VOIP box, etc) that you'd like to be able to rackmount. The equipment isn't standard-sized, but you can use wire ties: This uses vertically-oriented racks, which makes it easy to open the layers up, so you have room to work on the wire ties. The downside is that the cables don't have much to rest on, so you may have to wire-tie most of them. It might be possible to design horizontally-oriented racks, but you'd have to come up with a way to slide the shelves out so that you have enough room to work on the wire ties. Even then, it may be difficult to access the rear sockets on equipment that's relatively shallow.

I was lucky to find all of the wire shelves in one $15 package at Target. They were originally designed to be used for a cubical shelf.

Other materials can be used for the racks. A more upscale version is to use metal pegboard, but that can be expensive. Wooden pegboard would work too, but may be flimsy. It's even possible to use solid metal or wood, and use 3M Command Strips to attach equipment to the racks, but using so many adhesive strips would get expensive (though this would be the nicest-looking option).

If you're clever enough with the design of the "book spine" hinge, it may be possible to mount one "book cover" flat against the wall, so that when the whole thing is closed up, it takes up relatively little space.

If aesthetics are important, you can use solid "book covers" to cover up the mess of wires on the interior of the rack.

mini rackmount planning

Sometimes there are a lot of smaller devices (USB hubs, small network switches, VOIP boxes, etc) that would be good to mount vertically, to keep the wires neat, and minimize their footprint.

One way to do this is to wire-tie the equipment to wood or metal pegboard. The wires can be wire-tied also.

Another way is to 3M equipment to solid wood paneling or metal sheets.

A hybrid of the above is to repurpose wire shelves, which have built-in structural reinforcements, have "holes" of a sort, and require far less metal to manufacture. If you only use wire ties, the equipment can slide side-to-side on the much-larger "holes", so you have to also use sticky tape on the bottom of the equipment. However, because the sticky tape is mainly to avoid sliding, and it doesn't provide the main support, it's possible to use much cheaper sticky tape than 3M.

Whatever method is used to mount each piece of equipment to a "flat plane", it's possible to mount several of these "flat planes" back-to-back, either vertically or horizontally, to further minimize footprint while maximizing storage space.

Mounting horizontally allows us to avoid having to secure every single cable. Most likely, you'd want some way to rotate the stack as a whole, so you could access both the front and the back. However, mounting and removing equipment to a board can be tricky, since each board is very very close to its neighbor, and we use "bottom mounting" rather than "face" or "side-edge" mounting.

Mounting vertically allows us to use a "book" mount, where each board has a "hinge" on the back edge, and each board has a wide "slit" in the back that wires can be run through, but the front of each board can swing away from its neighbor, allowing you much more space to reconfigure things. While each board moves a fair bit in relation to each other, wires that run from one board to another still don't move very much because the distance between boards at the cross-over point (the "book spine") has a fixed distance. The main downside is that wires have to be more carefully secured, versus a horizontal mount (though a flexible "compression strip" near the "spine" of each board, that could be opened, may be enough to secure wires that run between boards).

Is it possible to make it look as nice as possible in its closed-up form? Possibly mount the whole thing against a wall? i.e. one of the "book covers" is actually mounted directly against a wall, and the other "book cover" is a solid sheet that's painted, so that the bulk of the unit is covered. The outer "book cover" could swing very far out, to allow room for readjustment. And then when you want to put everything away, it closes back up against the wall, just sticking out from the wall the minimum distance needed to maintain space between the "pages"?