Let’s Build an Arcade Cabinet: Episode II

Our busy season is winding down! That means more time to dedicate to the arcade cabinet. I didn’t get as far as I would have liked last Wednesday, unfortunately. The shell’s interior supports ended up being about an inch off on one side, and it was causing the whole cabinet to lean significantly. That oversight has been addressed, though it ate up a lot of time. Measure twice, and cut once…

I did manage to get the kickplate installed with a coin door. The majority of panels on the arcade cabinet will be installed using techniques similar to those I will describe in this post, so take note!

Cutting the Panels

Plate Measurements - Not to Scale

Plate Measurements – Not to Scale

I would recommend starting with Kickplate, the bottom-most plate on the front of the cabinet. We cut ours in two pieces (Kickplate and Addition on the left). I’d like to chalk it up to an aesthetic choice, but we really just screwed up and measured from the base rather than the ground. If you can avoid cutting your Kickplate in two pieces, do so. You’ll save on wood filler and/or calking, though you will inevitably need both once the plates have been set.

As you progress through the build, you will notice inconsistencies in the widths as you measure for the plates.  If your measurements hover around 25 3/4 inches (as was the case in our build), keep all the plates the same width rather than readjusting to each differential. This will ultimately help keep the cabinet stable, assuming your side panels are completely different. Use a level, and make sure you’re building on flat ground

Under-Panel Plate A will sit directly under the control panel (not yet built), and Under-Panel Plate B will connect A with the Kickplate at an angle, more or less in line with the cut of the side panels (see the example picture below). Remember that for increased authenticity, we’re leaving a space between the edge of the side panels and the plates, so you don’t want the plates and side panels to be flush. This will also help hide imperfections in your cuts thanks to the wood filler and/or calk we will eventually be slathering into the gaps. Flush edges and corners would only serve to accentuate the bumps and curves.

Under-Panel Plates

Under-Panel Plates

The Coin Door

I purchased an X-Arcade coin door through Amazon. It’s the same model I used on my home machine. If you end up using an X-Arcade control panel (which, as we progress, it’s looking more and more as if that’s the road we’re going to take), the coin door integrates very smoothly with their control panels. More importantly, it actually works as expected!

My measurements for the coin door obviously correspond with the door I purchased, so adjust accordingly. The hole for the door is 7 X 10 inches; the door’s lip gives you some wiggle room for your cut, but when all is said and done, the door should sit snuggly in the hole. Draw the outline of the hole on the kickplate, drill a hole an inch or so from a corner, and then use a jigsaw to follow outline for two sides. Then repeat the process in the opposite corner.

Drilling/Cutting the Coin Door

Drilling/Cutting the Coin Door

Improvising...

Improvising…

The door should come with clamps that screw in from the rear to hold it in place. I have misplaced the clamps to our door, so we had to improvise as is apparent in the picture on the left.

Leave all the door’s hardware wrapped up for now. And don’t screw down the clamps to the point of no return. You’re going to want to remove the door when you go to paint everything. It’s easier to leave it loose and accessible for now rather than having to rip it out (or get paint all over it and ruin the door).

 

Assemble!

As I mentioned earlier, as you start to slide the plates into place, don’t be afraid of gaps and bumps on the edges. Sand as you see fit, but it’s unlikely, if your an amateur carpenter, like myself that anything will be perfectly flush. We can hide our imperfections with filler and caulk.

The key to assembly is repetition. Cut a bunch of small sections of 2X4 (one to two inches in depth). These will be used to secure you plates to the side panels. We also used two scrap pieces of MDF to secure Under-Panel A.

Predrill Holes in Block and Side Panel

Predrill Holes in Block and Side Panel

As I mentioned in the first post, whether or not you choose to put vinyl art on the side panels, everything will look better if the screw heads are flush with the sides. To that end, if you do not have access to countersink drill bits, when you drill your holes (definitely do this when working with the cuts of 2X4, or they will inevitably split), simply follow your initial drill with a bit slightly larger than the screw heads. A quick tap will eat a small space in the wood in which your screw head will sit nicely. If you go too far and the head sits in a divot, just fill it in with wood filler later.

No Countersink Bit, No Problem!

No Countersink Bit, No Problem!

Use a block for each of the corners of the Kickplate, two screws per block.. For the smaller plates, a single block on each side should be sufficient. In fact, for Under-Panel Plate B, we ended up just drilling into the side of the plate; this is not recommended, as the MDF will split pretty easily, especially in smaller pieces. Nevertheless, the plate has held so far. Below is a side view of the screw jobs for each of the three plates.

For the kickplate addition (if you screwed up like I did), just drill it into the base and balance the kickplate on top of it.

Side View of the Screws

Side View of the Screws

Here’s what the assembled panels should look like up close:

Assembled

Assembled

 

Next Time

I should be able to finish the remainder of the paneling next week and drill the speaker grills. Some of it will simply be rinse-and-repeat with new measurements. Time permitting, I might get to the gap filling and painting. Thanks for reading!

patchwork

patchwork

Former military intelligence. Physical security and network penetration testing.
patchwork

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