Solid Oak Arcade Cabinet: When Particle Board Won’t Do

Having an arcade cabinet of one’s own is a common dream among those who grew up during the video game arcade heyday of the 80s and early 90s. It’s a fairly common build that doesn’t take too much specialized knowledge to build. This cabinet, on the other hand, pulled out all of the stops for the cabinet itself, demonstrating an impressive level of woodworking expertise.

The cabinet enclosure is made with red oak boards, which the creator [Obstreperuss] sawed and planed and then glued together to create the various panels (more details are available on his Imgur album). The Mario artwork on the sides and front aren’t just vinyl stickers, either. He used various hardwoods cut into small squares to create pixel art inlays in the oak faces. After the fancy woodwork was completed, the build was finished out with some USB arcade controllers, a flat-panel screen, and a Raspberry Pi to run the games.

While the internals are pretty standard, we have to commend the incredible quality of the woodworking. It’s an impressive homage to classic arcade machines and we wouldn’t mind a similar one in our own homes. If you’re lacking the woodworking equipment, though, it’s possible to get a refined (yet smaller) arcade cabinet for yourself with a 3D printer instead.

25 thoughts on “Solid Oak Arcade Cabinet: When Particle Board Won’t Do

    1. There’s plenty of options for formaldehyde free hardwood veneer ply nowadays (your local Big Orange Home Good Store has some). Put some edge banding on it and you’d have a build that:

      – costs a quarter the price,
      – looks just as good,
      – is more dimensionally stable,
      – supports more load in another axis,
      – avoids the time consuming process of manually jointing / biscuiting / gluing up huge heavy hardwood panels

      I am at a loss as to why the maker opted to go with rough sawed solid oak lol

    1. In the same way that buying an off brand stereo protects you from 10 years worth of audiophiles rabid opinions about it and they just instead sneer, you can avoid the CRTphiles by declining to participate in the argument by failing to make a choice which they expect you to defend unto death.

      1. I have been very satisfied by a “CRT Emulator” board that I bought (embarrassingly; it’s fairly easy to make one) that dims every n lines of the LCD screen and is installed between the game VGA output and LCD input. No additional power required. Not exactly the same, but gives my arcade some of the old-timey look.

        1. Or use an emulator with a scanline simulation option. If there’s a small 4K monitor I bet it could even simulate phosphor stripes and a slot mask. All you’d be missing is the large radius spherical section curved glass.

  1. This was a very laborious and expensive solution to a common problem from the Significant Other : “I don’t want another piece of your ugly junk in my beautiful house”.

    With my tabletop arcade, I solved the problem by using more expensive surfaced, higher-grade particleboard; then I did a vinyl print, that my wife provided the artwork for, over most of its surface. She also made the artwork for the marquee. It is fancy enough to be upstairs on top of the bar.

  2. Few here remember the heyday of arcade machines in bars, etc. I have seen what these machines looked like at last call back in the day. They looked like they had taken a ride in a a large washing machine; on the cleanliness side, once you had seen them with the lights on, you wouldn’t want to touch them!

  3. I’m perplexed why people go trhough the trouble of building these fantastic cabinets and then don’t put a real arcade crt in them… sure, games can look okay on LCD, but they don’t look RIGHT..

    1. As nice as CRTs are,

      1) Have you tried to find one lately? When they do show up in reasonable condition, it’s $250++ delivered.
      2) Screen burn.
      3) If it’s used (and almost certainly will be), figure on spending an evening recapping it.

      I’ve been hoarding a few for about 25 years, and am thinking about converting some of my 80’s arcade games to LCD.

  4. Seems like a solution to a problem that wasn’t there. Nothing wrong with particle board as there’s no heavy structure to maintain, and it’s all painted anyway so you don’t know. I think this looks ugly; nasty brown wood chosen – same color of doodoo. Looks very strange. At least pick a beautiful wood. But wood isn’t exactly a common theme in arcades -should be going for cheap plastic and bright colors.

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