How to make an Arcade Machine: Part 1

I’m going to show you how to make this awesome retro arcade cabinet that you can play all of your old school arcade games on. And if you stick around for part two, I’ll show you how to put the electronics in it.

So the first step in creating our arcade cabinet is to take two 3/4” sheets of MDF and sandwich them together. This will allow us to trace out and cut both side panels at the same time. So I am just using a compass to ever so slightly round off some of the edges for a decorative effect. In order to cut out the sides I’m going to use a jigsaw, and I’ve setup this guide bar in order to make sure that those cuts are straight.

In order to keep the weight down I’m gluing in these little 1 inch by 3/4 inch MDF strips. These will be the attachment points between the panels. I’m putting these rolling casters on the bottom of it. I think they will make it easier to roll it around and move it when I get it upstairs.

I’m going to install this decorative T-Moulding along the edges. In order to do that I have to route a 1/16 inch slot along the side of this. And I need to do it now, because I won’t be able to do it later. This is the control panel where the joystick and the buttons will go and I wanted to make sure that this was removable for maintenance in the future. So in order to do that I’ve added a lucky nugget that will keep it in place while your playing the game. This also provides some extra support for the monitor stand.

So because the door is set back from the front of the cabinet I used these inset cabinet hinges so that when the door closes it sets back on both sides. The barrel lock will allow me to keep the unit locked, and keep the kids out of the quarters. OK. So in order to install the coin door, I’m going to need to cut a hole in the front of the front door. I’m going to do that with my jigsaw, but before I do I’m going to cut some pilot holes with my drill.

Alright. That looks like it fits pretty good. Since the heart of this machine is going to be a Windows 8 PC, I went ahead and added a mouse and keyboard tray. That way I can configure the machine, as well as play games that require a mouse and a keyboard. I’ll go ahead and add a handle to it after we paint it.

OK. So all that is left to do now is drill all the of the holes for these little buttons and the joysticks. And I’ve created a little template that you can use.

All you have to do is put a little spray adhesive on the back and stick it on. And I will include a copy of this on the website. Now it’s time for a little caulk and a little painting.

Alright guys. Well that’s it for part one. Come back for part two and I’ll show you how to put all of the electronics in it. In part three we’ll put in the lighted marquee and apply all of the graphics.