April 19, 2015

Arcade Cabinet: Frame Construction

Some would argue that an arcade cabinet doesn't need a frame, or that it makes it too heavy.  I disagree.  The frame will give additional weight on the bottom, to prevent the machine from being too top-heavy.  Also, it'll provide a skeleton that should make it less likely that I'll build a crooked cabinet.

Weekend #1

The base was cut from 1/2" MDF: 19.25" x 24" (this 24-inch width is the factory cut width of the 2x4ft MDF sheets I'm using throughout this project).  Reinforcing 1x4 boards are glued with Gorilla Glue and screwed to the bottom.  Before attaching the 1x4's, however, I had to cut notches with my jigsaw for the vertical attachment points on the frame (visible in the second picture below).

Bottom view of arcade cabinet base.  Rear wheels are closest to camera.

Two fixed-wheel casters are bolted to the back, and two swivel casters are bolted to the front (where the brake can be easily accessed when the cabinet door is opened).  When attaching the swivel casters, I had to make sure that there was clearance for them to spin with the brake both engaged and disengaged.  The holes were drilled using a slightly larger diameter than the guide holes in the actual casters, to allow a little bit of error in the hole placement.  The casters are only loosely attached for now, because they'll need to come back off when I'm ready to paint.  Also, the swivel and fixed casters were slightly different heights, so I had to use washers to even them out.

Arcade cabinet base with boards needed to construct frame.

I also cut all of the boards necessary for the frame using my trusty speed square.

Weekend #2

I removed the wheels, and assembled the frame on top of the base using wood screws and Gorilla Glue.  In doing so, I realized that adding a frame was, by no means, making my cabinet construction any easier, since it's a pain in the butt to try to keep the boards square without any fancy right-angle clamps.  So, basically, I checked that everything was square with a carpenter's square, and checked often.  

Once I got the vertical boards and their cross-braces attached, I found that the frame was actually sturdier than expected.  In reality, once the side panels are installed, the braces connecting the front and back posts would have no function whatsoever, so I decided to omit them.

Completed frame for arcade cabinet.

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