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Retro Arcade Cabinet

author-gravatar Sean Jul 20, 2016

This project was probably the funnest project i've done in a while. This little arcade unit is a blast to play. There's not a whole lot to this little case. The case is made up of 1/2" and 1/4" plywood and is covered in mahogany veneer. Check out the video below to see how I made it and feel free to ask my anything in the comments section. The arcade unit is ran off of a raspberry pi that's loaded with retropie. For the screen, it's just a simple 10" LCD monitor that I picked up off of amazon. You can find links to these items below.

Products Used In This Project (Amazon affiliate links help support my builds!)

Gold paint:
Surge protector:
USB game controller:
Micro SD card:
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B:
Raspberry Pi 3 case:
Raspberry Pi 3 heatsinks:
10 inch LCD monitor:

Retropie resources
How to install retropie on the raspberry pi
A great how-to video on installing retropie on the raspberry pi

I start by cutting the cabinet front, back and bottom panels out of 1/2 inch plywood.   

The top, left and right panels are then cut out of 1/4 inch plywood at roughly 11" long and 7 3/4" wide.

The front and back panels get a 3/4" radius arch on the top left and right corners so I made a template to help with this and to get consistent cuts.

I use the same template for both sides of the panels, just flip it over and trace.

Using a band saw, jigsaw or hand saw, remove the waste.

Now over at the router table I use some double sided tape to tape the template in to place and use a flush trim bit to make the panels match the template.

After I get the left side routed, I flip the template, add more tape and then repeat the same process for the other side.

I'm tracing a 1" line from the edge on the left, top and right sides for the LCD monitor. Yes, i'm using an LCD monitor for this project and not an old school crt. Some consider it a crime.

Now, from the top, I trace a line 6 inches in for the bottom of the screen.

To cut this out, I drill 4 pilot holes for the jigsaw blade to fit in to remove the waste in the center of the front panel.

With the waste removed, I needed to clean up my lines. They are no where near straight. 

I took some scrap plywood and lined them up on my pencil lines from an earlier step. I used double sided tape to hold them down.

Using the same flush trim bit, I straighten out my lines and removed the jagged edges left from the jigsaw.

I was happy with the results.

The front of the cabinet has two 3/4" grooves for aesthetic purposes so to cut those out, I used a 3/4" straight bit at the router table. Since I used 1/2" plywood, I took this in two passes, raising the bit 1/4 inch at a time.

I moved the router fence in an inch and cut the second groove.

It looked good but next time I will be using an spiral bit for a cleaner cut.

The front panel received a 1/4" rabbet around all 4 sides with the back panel only getting the rabbet on 3 sides (no rabbet on the bottom inside of the panel).

Before I put the box together I cut an opening in the back panel for a door.

This is a 10" LCD screen.

I traced the screen on the front panel to make sure the rabbeting bit I had would work for this process.

Back over at the router table, using the same 1/4" rabbeting bit, I put a rabbet all along the inside area where the screen goes for mounting purposes.

Since the router bit leaves rounded corners, and the screen had square corners, I used a chisel to clean them up.

It fit perfectly!

I used a piece of scrap plywood to mount the circuit board to the back of the screen using hot glue.

I also used hot glue to mount the touch sensor to the back of the front panel.

I used brad nails to put the box together.

I used a 2" and then a 1 3/4" forstener bit to cut a recess for a 2" speaker.

Using some super 77 spray adhesive, I glued some cloth to the speaker panel.

I mixed some gold metallic paint with some black paint to achieve an old "gold" look for the exposed plywood edges.

I tried to kerf some plywood for the curves but it kept breaking. So I traces the curve on the plywood panels and used my block plane to shape the radius in them. It worked out great. Using the same brad nailer, I tacked the rest of the panels in place.

I used some mahogany veneer for this project and since I don't own a veneer press, I opted to use the iron on glue. I went with heatlock veneer glue and a cheap iron to apply the veneer.

Start at the middle of the piece and iron out to the edges. Check out the video above for more information, it goes into more detail. I ended this project by putting on 3 coats of a wipe on varnish and finally added some antique radio buttons and brass feet. It was a super fun build.


Hey, this looks like an awesome build, looking to attempt it myself. Can you provide some information on how you connected the interior components like the Pi and Speakers?  

@Baltic98  said:

Hey, this looks like an awesome build, looking to attempt it myself. Can you provide some information on how you connected the interior components like the Pi and Speakers?  

The LCD panel has an HDMI port so the video/audio came through that which plugged in to the rpi3. As for the speakers, I took speakers out of the cases and soldered them to the LCD panel's audio port that the LCD speakers were connected to I believe(it's been a while since I looked at that project).

Good luck!

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