The MAME Cabinet

mame cabinetmame cabinet

Let me start by saying that building a cabinet is a wood working project and I know nothing about wood working. Even with my limited knowledge, building the cabinet is still the most fulfilling home project I have ever completed. There are many sites out there with people that are more capable than I am to instruct in the basics of building a cabinet - those URLs are listed below. This page is geared more towards people like me that have absolutely no wood working skills, but don't want to let that hold them back from building a cabinet.

I found these sites an absolute neccessity before you start building or planning your cabinet.

One thing I would like to help out with is all of the dead links on Build Your Own Arcade Controls, not that it is their fault. It's just that a lot of people's arcade sites go down after a couple years. To help remedy this problem I have no problem donating space up on my site for anyone that is interested. If you want to document the construction of your cabinet, but need someone to host the pages for you then contact me and I can probably help you out.

Cabinet Construction

The cabinet construction itself was extremely simple. Once I got by the fact that you do not need to build a full 2x4 frame on the inside of the cabinet then things went smoothly. I only used 2x4's to brace the bottom, the monitor shelf and also one 2x4 across the top. The final cabinet is plenty strong and not too heavy. Supercade's site has great plans for the internal construction of the cabinet.

I used particle board for my construction, not knowing there was a difference between this and MDF. In hindsight I would definitely spring the extra bucks for MDF (next project) - it's heavier than particle board, but also much stronger. The ideal would be a product called Melamine, which is a laminate/MDF combo, so you don't have to worry about putting a finishing coat on the cabinet. I looked around and could only find white, but I have seen other people who have found black and built great looking cabinets.

Once I had my plans laid out I clamped two sheets or particle board together and did a single cut for the sides of the cabinet. I figured if I was going to screw up at least the cabinet would be symetrical. One mistake I made was to cut all sides (including the long ones) with a jig saw instead of a circular saw. Big mistake. No matter how straight I through I was cutting the finished job was a bit wavy. I ended up going over some of the long straight edges with a circular saw and getting rid of all the wavy edges.

I spent the better part of a night making all of the cuts for the major pieces and started screwing the sides together at about 1:00 AM. I had one side screwed on and was leaning the second side up, went for the drill and side #2 started to topple. I made a dive to save it, but didn't make it in time. The top 2 feet or so nailed my ping-pong table and snapped right off. I laid there for a while completely defeated, and was forced to make a decision between starting over or else fixing the top section. I figured the particle board is just wood chips glued together (skip to next paragraph if you are a good wood worker - this is embarassing), so I would just glue two sections together and it wouldn't be too much different than the original crappy wood. I put glue on both sections and jammed them together. Amazingly the jagged edges lined up perfectly. I used a spare piece of particle board to hold the two sections together and called it good. Later I ended up doing some extra sanding/spackle on that area, but if I didn't mention it you would never notice where the break occurred. Luck was on my side at this point.

Now that I've admitted to a total hack job on the cabinet, I'll also admit that I used a circular saw to cut the groove in the cabinet for the t-molding. This technique works (sort of), but it's also a total hack. Spend the bucks and spring for a router and the correct bit. I ended up having to glue parts of the t-molding down where the groove was too wide, shave part of the groove that was off center. It was bad. The t-molding in the end was saved, but overall it took me much longer to complete and looks okay, but not great.

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