In case you’re new to ILTMS, building my own arcade cabinet has been a really long standing goal of mine! I started the brainstorming and designing well over a year ago, and have finally gotten the project off the ground. I’ve been designing and redesigning the cabinet structure to take the best advantage of the fact that it’d be mostly open space. Since the modern electronics are so small, I turned almost all of the cabinet into usable storage by making one side panel swing open.
I’ve also been working with a good friend of mine who is an incredible artist to create custom artwork depicting my entire family as super heroes! Dave Montes created artwork that truly blows my mind and I’m SO happy to have it!! It was printed on really high quality vinyl and polycarbonate by the kind folks of Mastrographics. I HIGHLY recommend them if you’re looking to get graphics printed for you cabinet. They knew exactly what was needed, were extremely helpful and delivered a top quality product!
Now, It’s time to get back the arcade cabinet build with part 2! In case you haven’t seen the other videos in this series, be sure to watch Part 1 as well as the video about setting up the Raspberry Pi and controls! Part 1 showed the building of the cabinet and getting it ready for paint. In this part, I made some drawers for the hidden storage section, painted everything and added graphics and trim! By the end of part 2, the cabinet looks complete but is still missing the finishing touches.
If you’re interested in buying plans to make your own cabinet like this, you can now buy those plans! Buying my plans is a great way to help support my projects and I truly appreciate it!
Here’s what you’ll need:
(purchasing via these affiliate links supports ILTMS)
- Digital plans
- SawStop cabinet saw
- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
- Dewalt compact router
- Shop Fox Push Blocks
- Tack Cloth
- HVLP Spray gun
- Dremel Tool
- T-Molding (I got 40ft)
- Slot cutting bit & arbor
- Ergo Kiwi knife
- Vinyl squeegee
- Rubber mallet
- LED Arcade buttons
- Arcade joystick (Jamma style)
- 48″ Piano Hinge
- Classic steel ruler (cork back)
- 24″ Soft-close drawer slides
- 27″ LCD Monitor
- Silhouette Portrait (vinyl cutter)
- 3″ Speaker grilles
- Logitech computer speakers
I started out by cutting pieces for six drawers, all from MDF.
I rough cut some pieces for the short sides, then cut twelve pieces for the long sides.
I set up a stop block so that all of the short sides were cut to the exact same length. They’d come from several different scrap pieces I was using.
I lowered the blade and cut a dado in each piece, about 1/4″ from one edge.
I moved the fence over 1/8″ (the kerf of the blade) and ran all of the pieces through again, widening the dado.
I glued up all of the sides, and cut some 1/8″ plywood to fit as the bottom.
The plywood slid right into the dado.
I used brads to hold it together while the glue dried.
From the inside of the “front”, I countersunk two holes.
The ply wood drawer fronts got a little glue, although it probably wasn’t necessary.
I sat the drawer front in place and centered it on the drawer. This was done by measuring the overlap on both sides and adjusting until they were equal.
I added some clamps to hold the centered position.
Finally, I added two screws to permanently attach the drawer front.
Then, I made five more of them.
In my carport, I stapled up some plastic drop cloths to act as a paint booth. I also overlapped a couple of them on the ground.
All of the pieces got sprayed gloss black (paint/primer combo) with my cheap HVLP gun with a pancake compressor.
The paint raises the grain, so I lightly sanded in between the two coats.
I mounted a slot cutting bit in my router,centered at a depth of 3/8″. This is the center of a 3/4″ piece of plywood.
On the side panels, I went all of the way around the panel, cutting a slot.
Be sure to clamp down the work piece any time you use a router. They are high powered and FAST.
I also cut the slot into the side panel that was already attached to the cabinet. You should cut yours earlier, before it’s attached.
I had my good friend Dave Montes create my graphics, and they were printed by the awesome folks at Mastrographics.
I laid out the side graphics, and measured the overlap to get them as centered as I could.
Once they were placed correctly, I added some blue tape in several locations to hold the position.
On one end, I peeled back the backing and cut away a short strip of it.
I pressed down the exposed section of the adhesive vinyl, from the center moving outward.
I added a couple drops of non scented dish soap to some water in a spray bottle.
After rolling back the vinyl and using the area I had attached as a hinge, I lightly sprayed water onto the side panel. This helps suspend the adhesive temporarily so you can adjust the vinyl once placed.
I did this a small section at a time, removing the backing, and laying it down. I used a squeegee along the way to push excess water and air bubbles out toward the sides and front.
Even after it was all down, I was able to push out air bubbles with the squeegee. If any remain, you can pierce them with a needle and press them flat.
At the corners, I made cuts in the overlapping material.
Firmly pressing over the edge, I laid down these flaps to the edge of the side panels. I removed the excess by running a knife through the slot I’d cut earlier and pulling off the extra vinyl.
After all of the water evaporates, go back and press down the corners and overlaps so that it fully contacts the wood surface.
I’m still so blown away at how awesome these turned out!! Our entire family as super heroes!
T-molding has a barb that gets pressed into the slot on the panel edge.
I started it by hand, pressing it in then knocked the rest in with a rubber mallet.
At the corners, I found it best to remove parts of the barb section so that the outside can lay flat around, or in, corners.
Come back to your corners and knock them flat after you’ve pressed in the length after the corner.
I added t-molding all of the way around the side panels, even the bottom.
I followed the same process as earlier to add the polycarbonate to the control board.
PC is thicker and more durable than the other vinyl, which makes it hard to bend over a corner, so I lined it up with the front edge.
I squeegeed out the excess water and bubbles.
On the front edge, I lined up a piece of normal vinyl with the artwork from the top then folded it over the bottom edge.
On the underside, I just had to trim the vinyl a little to make it fit around everything.
I trimmed off the excess PC with a sharp blade right up against the edge.
With the board flipped upside down, I poked a little hole in each opening for a control.
This gave my knife a starting point to cut out each circle, when I flipped the board over.
With the holes all cut out, I dropped the buttons in place and tightened the from the underside.
To add the joysticks, I center their stick in the opening from the front side, then traced their outline and screw holes onto the back.
Keeping them lined up with the outline, I screwed them to the control board.
Then, from the front I added the covers and joystick balls.
There was one more piece of art that needed to line up, but it went on the cabinet itself. I lined it up with the other art and taped it in place.
I made tiny slits on the ends where they hung off the control board.
I removed the vinyl and used a straight edge to trim off the ends, using my previous mark for reference.
The piece was then cut to fit, so I applied it like the others.
The marquee was printed on Lexan with a white backing. I set it into place and adjusted it so that it was centered horizontally and vertically.
I marked where it should sit, the added some CA glue around the edges.
When I put the panel back in place, I lined it up with my marks and held it until the glue dried.
To cover the speaker holes, I bought some cheap 3″ replacement speaker grilles.
I predrilled holes, then screwed these into place.
I only had silver screws, so I blackened them with a Sharpie.
The speakers just got screwed into the wood above the holes.
For each set of drawer slides, I removed the section that goes on the drawer.
These were places as far front and down as possible, so that they all were in the same position.
Each got fixed in place with two screws.
All six of the drawers slid right back into their sliders until them “clicked”.
I used a Dremel with a cut off wheel to cut a 48″ piano hinge in half.
I screwed one half of the hinge to the top section of the side of the cabinet. The back of the hinge was lined up with the corner, overhanging the back of the cabinet.
I placed the lower hinge in the same way, pre-drilling the holes along the way.
I lined up the side panel by resting it on the same furniture sliders that the cabinet was sitting on.
I pre-drilled the holes in the side panel as well. It may not be necessary, but this far into the build I was trying to avoid any problems that all. Finally, I screwed the hinges to the side panel.
The panel swing freely and the cabinet build was pretty much complete!!