Scott Hanselman

Building your own Arcade Cabinet for Geeks - Part 5 - Paint and Art

June 06, 2009 Comment on this post [1] Posted in Arcade
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This is the fifth part of a multi-part series I'm going to do about assembling an Arcade Cabinet for my house. This series has two disclaimers:

Software Disclaimer 1: There's all sorts of legal issues around emulating arcade games. This series of posts has nothing to do with that. I do own some original arcade boards, but if you want to emulate arcade games with MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), you can search the 'tubes. What I'm doing here is putting a computer in a pretty box.

Hardware Disclaimer 2: Many folks that build arcade cabinets have a purist view of how these things should be done. They will prefer original Arcade CRT monitors and more expensive, higher quality parts. I am more of a pragmatist. I also have no idea what I'm doing, so I've also got ignorance on my side.

Paint is pretty easy. Two coats people say. I am a believer. ALWAYS two coats. For this project I also did a few other things. John suggested that we use the orbital sander to really give the wood a little texture so the paint would grip. The sander also took off the side art nicely.


I sanded the heck out of it. I used some wood putty to fill in some holes and nasty parts, let them dry, then sanded over them. Then I used a small foam roller (brushes are too slow, and I really don't like the texture they often leave) to do a first coat with a "Killz" tinted primer. This stuff is amazing. It really covered stains and stickers and all sorts of crap.

IMG_0036 IMG_0332

Then I taped off all the important bits with blue painters tape. The Killz Tinted Primer is nice because I only needed an hour or so (I waited 2) to put the first coat of paint.

Cost: US$35
Cost So Far: US$341

I waited overnight for the second coat of black and let me tell you, it really took the paint to the next level. It looks cleaner, smoother, sharper, and the coverage is perfect. Really, people. Two coats. It's like flossing. If you don't floss, don't even bother brushing. Two coats, or don't bother. I'm a believer.

Art and Marquees

I went over to Mame Marquees to get the side art. I've heard nothing but nice things about their work. They often have sales and overstock, and while I was originally planning on custom "Hanselcade" art, I fell line love with this classic "atomic blue" design.


Cost: US$100
Cost So Far: US$441

The side art came with a sticky back and was surprisingly easy to install without any bubbles. You just start at the top, remove an inch of the back, and slowly remove the back pulling down as you smooth from the top. I would say it was skill, but the decals are very think vinyl and of high quality. I don't know what kind of printer he has but it's worth the money. The art really gave the project "pop!" IMHO.

DSC_0135   DSC_0136

As I mention in the Control Panel section, the vinyl for the control panel was sandwiched between the steel and the acrylic. No adhesive was used as the 19 buttons and the pressure of the outer screws hold it all in place.


Now, I get to put the computer inside and hook it all up!

Next Up: Computer Hardware and Software

  1. Cabinet and Power
  2. Monitor and Mounting
  3. Control Panel
  4. Sound and Lights
  5. Paint and Art
  6. Computer Hardware and Software
  7. Success and Conclusion

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 06, 2009 15:35
Great work! Another great site about building your own arcade machine from the ground with lots of tips and links I recently stumbled upon is - really worth a look.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.