Where To Do The Work?
The kitchen is the most appropriate place to do this kind of work. It is winter in California. The garage is cold and damp. The cat does not like it there. It is dusty and not safe for expensive electronic components. The kitchen serves no useful purpose in a geek’s life other than to host a refrigerator and to provide a repository for cat food. There are appliances there that never get used, such as the oven, stove, and dishwasher. The lighting is good and there are plenty of bench surfaces. If the kitchen had a bench-mounted vise, it would be complete and perfect.
There are many challenges associated with the custom build of any computer in a case that has very limited clearances and was not originally built to safely house fragile components. Building out the framework to support the motherboard, drives, and connections consists of fashioning a lot of custom brackets and making sure things fit properly. Repeated handling of the motherboard and drives is not safe.
Handling Fragile And Expensive Components
I built cardboard cutouts of the drives and the motherboard. This allowed building up the internal frames and repeatedly dropping in the mockups to test for fit, without having to worry about dropping things or scraping the underside of a PCB against metal brackets.