The Cabinet







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April 2002

I knew I had to have a MAME cabinet, but I wasn't quite sure whether I was going to start from scratch or not. I'm fairly comfortable around tools and have the necessary equipment to build if I wanted to. I wasn't really crazy about lugging three sheets of melamine from Home Depot and, because my garage is currently full of crap, I really couldn't afford to make a big mess. I decided to find an existing cabinet.

I looked in the local paper and found a guy who bought and sold pinball machines. Although he didn't have arcade cabinets, he knew someone who might and gave me his number. As luck would have it, he did have two cabinets. There was good news and bad news though. The good news is that either or both were mine for free. The bad news is that they had both spent the previous night in the rain. I took my chances and drove out to look over the cabinets around 9:00 that evening. One cabinet (Kicker) was particle board and was already starting to swell. The other cabinet (Rabbit Punch) was plywood and in much better shape. We loaded the Rabbit Punch cabinet into the truck and headed for home.

When I got the cabinet home and into the light of the garage, I could see that it wasn't in great shape. The laminate was beat up, and anything useful had been removed from it and had been transplanted to another machine. What I was left with was a smelly, dirty cabinet that was little more than T-molding and plywood. I spent the next month or so taking my time, removing the plastic laminate from the sides with a stiff scraper and a lot of elbow grease. I was too lazy to take initial pictures, and I knew I would regret it. I do. The picture above shows the end result. Although I ended up with some large divots, my plan was to put on fresh laminate which would cover up the defects.

The laminate was much easier to work with, but I ended up really underestimating the amount of contact cement needed for the cabinet. I went through two quarts of the stuff and need more for the control panel. I used a laminate scorer to cut the material, but a utility knife would probably have worked just as well.