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Building an arcade cabinet

Over the past few years, the idea had already surfaced a few times, but I never actually got myself to start this little project. But a few days into January, the bug suddenly hit me hard, and I couldn’t resist anymore: I wanted to build my own arcade cabinet.

Every nontrivial endeavour starts out with a little bit of research, and luckily the idea wasn’t exactly original; there are a lot of tips and howtos, as well as some very strong opinions on How It Must Be Done to be found online.

Now one of the tips given most often is not to start from scratch, but to get an existing cabinet an repurpose it to your needs. It is less work, and much cheaper than going at it yourself.

But hey. Where’s the fun in that?

Despite not having any significant woodworking skills (and, now that I’m done, to be honest, apart from some common sense needed to keep your fingers attached, you don’t really need to be that advanced at it for a project like this), I wanted to build my own; partly because it is fun (or at least, that was what I hoped, and I was right), and partly because strangely enough, I don’t really like most cabinet designs. IMO they are often too big and too flashy, especially if they are intended to be placed in a home instead of an actual arcade.

So after some basic research (there are lots of good tips on ArcadeCab, and a couple of initial designs, I went out to the local hardware store, got a bit of wood and some tools I did not have already. And I was off!

I shall not bore you with a step-by-step guide, there are enough of those on the Internet already, but here are a few pictures:

The whole process took a couple of saturdays (sorry for the noise, neighbours!), and a lot of obsessing over How To Do It, but I’m quite happy with the results:

Some observations and lessons learned:

  • Building Stuff Is Fun.
  • I’d do lots of things completely different if I were to do it again.
  • Routers (of the woodworking, not the packet switching kind) are awesome!
  • Covering a room with plastic to paint big pieces of wood feels pretty awkward if you have just watched two seasons of Dexter.
  • The people at are great.

Again, I am pretty happy with how it turned out!

Now I only need to find a place to put it.