Where to find small, off-the-shelf front panels?

I made a smart mirror for my girlfriend and it has an LED strip for accent lighting, with an Arduino controlling it. I've got a pot to control the brightness and an encoder to control the colors, so now I wanted to make a simple panel to mount on the side of the mirror frame for the knobs to hang off of because the wood is too thick to mount them directly without counterboring the hole, and I'm not set up to do that.

I don't know if I'm just not Googling the right phrases, but I cannot find a small (2x4") black, blank panel made of metal or plastic for this. I can find larger metal panels, but the only metal-working tool I have access to right now is a drill. I bought a couple blank outlet covers from Home Depot but they cracked every time I tried to drill a hole. I only need one panel so I think a custom designed panel would be prohibitively expensive.

Maybe a hobby blank PCB?

Why not get an enclosure so the electronics are tucked away in a nice box? You can find them in a large variety of dimensions for a reasonable price on eBay, etc.

Raddy13:
I made a smart mirror for my girlfriend and it has an LED strip for accent lighting, with an Arduino controlling it. I've got a pot to control the brightness and an encoder to control the colors, so now I wanted to make a simple panel to mount on the side of the mirror frame for the knobs to hang off of because the wood is too thick to mount them directly without counterboring the hole, and I'm not set up to do that.

I don't know if I'm just not Googling the right phrases, but I cannot find a small (2x4") black, blank panel made of metal or plastic for this. I can find larger metal panels, but the only metal-working tool I have access to right now is a drill. I bought a couple blank outlet covers from Home Depot but they cracked every time I tried to drill a hole. I only need one panel so I think a custom designed panel would be prohibitively expensive.

Several ideas come to mind.
Use thin hobby plywood for the front panel.
This is the plywood used to make dollhouses, RC wood airplane models, RC boats, etc.
RC=Radio Controlled.
That would be my first choice.

hobby plywood sheet

Use thin hobby plastic sheet for the front panel
This again is used to make dollhouses, etc.
This would be my last choice.

Hobby Craft UK

I have used this in the past.
It is normally used to patch automobile rust.
fiberglass fabric and auto body putty.
cut the fiberglass fabric to the size you need.
gently spread the auto body putty across the fiberglass and smooth as well as you can.
Let the auto body putty dry.
sand so it is as smooth as you need.
you can provide the holes you need.
paint as you like.

there are also epoxy kits, but i have not used these.

The advantage of the fiberglass fabric is that you can shape the fabric into simple shapes

a friend has tried this and says it works great.
Make you own Sugru

if you decide not to make your own search for "sugru moldable glue".
In my opinion it tends to be expensive.

The Make Your Own Sugru may be the way to go.
You could embed the encoder and pot in the sugru substitute.

Those are my suggestions.

Do you know anyone with a 3D printer?
Super easy to knock up a project box for something like this.

aarg:
Maybe a hobby blank PCB?

That's an idea, I'll look into that. Thanks!

pert:
Why not get an enclosure so the electronics are tucked away in a nice box? You can find them in a large variety of dimensions for a reasonable price on eBay, etc.

I thought about that, but I want the end result to look polished and I don't have the tools to precisely cut the wood to fit an enclosure.

artisticforge:
Several ideas come to mind.
Use thin hobby plywood for the front panel.
This is the plywood used to make dollhouses, RC wood airplane models, RC boats, etc.

I was trying to avoid plywood because I didn't think I'd be able to cut the wood cleanly enough for a finished product (I do have a small hand saw), but this might be the way I end up going. Thanks for the suggestions!

vinceherman:
Do you know anyone with a 3D printer?
Super easy to knock up a project box for something like this.

Unfortunately not, I agree, though.

A custom PCB can make a great front panel. $5 per square inch or less, depending where you look and how long you can wait.

The PCB maker will warn you that there is no copper on the board but they will still make exactly what you designed.

I have even put a logo on a panel which was formatted as a gold-plated copper pad. It added a nice accent to the finished look. (Normal pads are gold plated with most PCB manufacturers. It's called ENIG process.)

Or just buy a sheet of thin plastic or aluminum at your local hardware. Cut with almost any saw and buy a small file to smooth off the rough edges. Drill holes, paint as required.

Those darn switchplate covers. I never new they broke like fine china. Try a plastic drilling bit that has the point on it, wood ones, and spades, lol, will crack em good. Best be off with hand when that happens. Glad to see I'm not the only one. I also managed some holes using wood drilling bits, but had to go from 1/8" to the 5mm size

Raddy13:
I made a smart mirror

I'm curious to know what one of those is.

wilfredmedlin:
I’m curious to know what one of those is.

This should give a general overview:

Update. I had luck dremeling the switchplate covers and drilling them using a pointy plastic drill bit which looks like the point of a spade bit with the auger thread of a normal drill bit with reverse cut angle. Otherwise, yeah, BAM! They shatter like glass.