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Author Topic: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet  (Read 814 times)

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ericball

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Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« on: February 19, 2021, 10:10:00 am »
At some point I need to build the final cabinet for my vertical bartop (see http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,164521.0.html for details).  However, I need some advice on the best cheap way to finish it.  While I'd love to go whole-hog with custom vinyl and Lexan, each of those would double the cost of the project.

Sides - the sides are a 15"x22" L shape.  I've seen mention of using clear Krylon over artwork printed on wide paper instead of custom vinyl.  Can anyone comment on how well this works?

Control Panel - 15"x7".  My plan is for a two layer construction to hide the joystick mounting plate & screw heads - 5/8" plywood inside the sides & front and 1/8" hardboard or similar top over the sides and front.  I'd love to have some artwork, but I'm open to suggestions on what works best for control panels.

Edge treatment - while the flame printed hockey tape was okay for the prototype, I'm open to suggestions.  Unfortunately T-moulding is probably out as I don't have a 1/16" slot cutter.
MAME Projects % completed:
2004 3 sided cocktail cabinet w/ modular CP <25%
2004 Tempest cabinet & CP > 75%
2017 Raspberry Pi Zero W w/ Lakka microconsole 50%
2021 Vertical Bartop - in progress

Gilrock

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2021, 10:38:33 am »
So from your signature you've never actually finished a project in 17 years?  Maybe you don't need to worry about painting.  :)

If you don't want to spend money why not just leave it black like I see in that thread.  Once you build it and post your "pretty photo" you really never look at the sides much you just play it.  If you wanted to get artwork printed it would only be around $100 for the sides and control panel.  I'm not very good at giving advise to people that want to cheap out.  I like to brag about spending more than my neighbor...lol.  Just buy a 1/16" slot cutter that can't break the bank.  Do you have a Woodcraft nearby?

MartyKong

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2021, 11:55:28 am »
Well, I didn't cheap out on mine as well but you can always trade cost for elbow grease. I would still recommend a good quality primer sanded for smoothness and a foam brush to lay light coats of paint onto (sand in between coats). Cheaper than designing artwork and printing out vinyl. I also would rethink not using T-molding. Edges will take a beating when kids are involved. Good luck with your build:-)

javeryh

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2021, 12:54:07 pm »
I don't think "cheap" and BYOAC go together... at least not for something I'd want to display in my house.  That said, you can easily paint the side panels and have it come out very nice without any art at all.  Get creative with some painter's tape and you can add racing stripes or whatever.  But paint, sandpaper, rollers, etc. all add up.  Still cheaper than custom art but not "cheap" either.

As for the edges, you can either suck it up and buy a $15 slot cutter or use hardwood to treat the edges.  Slot cutter would be a lot cheaper and easier but you have to do something or the edges will chip and take a beating over the years even if you are careful.

You might have some luck with lexan/plexiglas to cover your CP but personally I will never build another cabinet without a polycarbonite CP covering.  My DK has plexi (like they all do) and after 15 years of home use there are light scratches on it and I'm anal as they come.  The polycarbonite control panels still look as new as they did when I installed them.  For a bartop like you are building it's probably like $30 from gameongrafix.

I guess this is all dependent on what your goal is - just a playable cabinet?  You are already there.  Anything "nicer" is going to cost money.

jennifer

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2021, 01:26:16 pm »
Building a machine is more about learning the skills and the job well done, not really the cost involved, If you want a cheap game, I would say a used arcade 1up perhaps?...When I was a kid I taped some box's together and made a Toosie roll machine, that was cheap looking back at it, But secretly that was just Jennifer sitting in a big box poking candy out a hole at people.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2021, 02:21:10 pm by jennifer »

ericball

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2021, 04:11:57 pm »
Thanks to all (so far) for your frank feedback.

So from your signature you've never actually finished a project in 17 years?  Maybe you don't need to worry about painting.  :) ...
I kinda want to finish this project to prove to the CFO that I can actually finish one.  Good point on the side-art.  I'm in Canada (near Toronto), so no local Woodcraft.

Well, I didn't cheap out on mine as well but you can always trade cost for elbow grease. ...
I don't think "cheap" and BYOAC go together...
Two more votes for paint over side art & the importance of T-molding.  Although it's really only the edges on either side of the monitor, so less likely to get abused.  My son is 21, so not so much a kid anymore.

I'll have to look into whether I can find a piece of polycarbonate for the CP.  Might even be small enough that I can get an off-cut.  My big worry is putting the holes in it.  (Note: Lexan is a brand of polycarbonate.)

Building a machine is more about learning the skills and the job well done, not really the cost involved
Very true.  There is something satisfying about building something.  However, I have to try to balance the final result with the monetary cost to get there.  Thus asking the forum whether they might have suggestions for alternatives which look good but may not cost a lot.
MAME Projects % completed:
2004 3 sided cocktail cabinet w/ modular CP <25%
2004 Tempest cabinet & CP > 75%
2017 Raspberry Pi Zero W w/ Lakka microconsole 50%
2021 Vertical Bartop - in progress

bobbyb13

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 05:46:23 pm »
Cheapest thing that will look good in your instance is T molding.
If you have a router already, slot cutter arbor and bits are cheap.
Maybe you'll use the bit on your next project and finish it faster as a result!
 ;)

Other easy/cheap one for plywood is iron on edge tape.
It is real wood with adhesive already on it.  Ridiculously easy to apply if you just follow the directions.
Only thing is you are left with wood grain.  There may be other alternatives that aren't wood that glue on ion the same fashion but I have never had a need to look.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/EDGEMATE-13-16-in-x-25-ft-Birch-Edge-Tape-657608/202843396

Not sure what the Canadian equivalent of Home Cheapo is though!

Bobby
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ericball

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2021, 09:41:39 am »
Cheapest thing that will look good in your instance is T molding. ...
Home Depot and Lowes both exist in Canada.  Unfortunately they don't have the same breadth of specialty items, e.g. cheap slot cutters.  However, one edge treatment I'm considering is to make the sides from a prefinished bullnose shelf e.g. https://www.homedepot.ca/product/okaply-mdf-bullnosed-black-shelving-5-8-inch-x-15-1-4-inch-x-96-inch/1000148254 (which is basically what I used for prototype) but cut the bullnose off the back edge and glue it on to the angled front edge.
MAME Projects % completed:
2004 3 sided cocktail cabinet w/ modular CP <25%
2004 Tempest cabinet & CP > 75%
2017 Raspberry Pi Zero W w/ Lakka microconsole 50%
2021 Vertical Bartop - in progress

leapinlew

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2021, 02:07:38 pm »
Agree with Javery - if you want best/cheap, I think your best option is paint. Stripes is what I did for my racing cabinet


I had the red paint, so it cost me a dollar tree brush and some painters tape. But, with extreme creativity, you could recreate stenciled artwork like they did with many games, or you could create something original.

A well placed and protected poster could look pretty good. The thing is, sideart can totally make a cabinet, depending on what it is and how it's displayed. Here is my tempest bartop before sideart:


Here it is with sideart:


To me, it's money well spent.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 09:27:44 pm by leapinlew »

javeryh

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2021, 02:13:01 pm »
Here is my tempest bartop

One of the best looking bartops ever.  Every time I see it I think to myself I need to build this.

bobbyb13

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2021, 02:29:53 pm »
The only thing as awesome as full print side art- which is NOT actually full print side art- is well done stencil work!
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leapinlew

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2021, 10:49:30 pm »
Here is my tempest bartop

One of the best looking bartops ever.  Every time I see it I think to myself I need to build this.

Thanks. Ultimately, the game selection on it didn't hold my interest. I even used a hacked up version of Gyruss and Time Pilot to expand the game list. I consider rebuilding it occasionally, but I'm just not a huge Tempest fan.

javeryh

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2021, 12:56:40 pm »
Here is my tempest bartop

One of the best looking bartops ever.  Every time I see it I think to myself I need to build this.

Thanks. Ultimately, the game selection on it didn't hold my interest. I even used a hacked up version of Gyruss and Time Pilot to expand the game list. I consider rebuilding it occasionally, but I'm just not a huge Tempest fan.
I need to locate that version of Gyruss... I canít believe it isnít a native spider game based on how it plays.


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leapinlew

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2021, 07:28:44 pm »
Here is my tempest bartop

One of the best looking bartops ever.  Every time I see it I think to myself I need to build this.

Thanks. Ultimately, the game selection on it didn't hold my interest. I even used a hacked up version of Gyruss and Time Pilot to expand the game list. I consider rebuilding it occasionally, but I'm just not a huge Tempest fan.
I need to locate that version of Gyruss... I canít believe it isnít a native spider game based on how it plays.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Don't kill yourself looking for it. It's the version of mame that's modified, not Gyruss. I can send you a link to download it if you like. Send me a PM.

ericball

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2021, 12:10:00 pm »
Here is my tempest bartop before sideart
Very nice.  Coincidentally one of my (unfinished) projects is based on a Tempest cabinet (with original control panel & controls) I rescued from the curb.  I've set it up with all of the games playable with those controls - which includes a bunch of 2 way games and AtomicFE using a custom layout which displays the games as 3-D cabinets arranged in a giant circle.
MAME Projects % completed:
2004 3 sided cocktail cabinet w/ modular CP <25%
2004 Tempest cabinet & CP > 75%
2017 Raspberry Pi Zero W w/ Lakka microconsole 50%
2021 Vertical Bartop - in progress

javeryh

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2021, 02:38:39 pm »
Don't kill yourself looking for it. It's the version of mame that's modified, not Gyruss. I can send you a link to download it if you like. Send me a PM.

Eh... thanks for the offer but I'm not messing with mame now that things are finally working...  ;D

yamatetsu

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2021, 04:53:25 pm »
A cheap way to get graphics on wood would be inkjet to wood transfer. You print your mirrored graphics on a sheet of paper that barely holds the ink but doesn't absorb it, press it onto the piece of wood and thereby tansfer the ink to the wood.

This is a big one that I did as a standalone:


This one is from my 'Pinup' cab:
                  

Vigo

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2021, 05:47:07 pm »
Cheap is my jam.

I'm going to agree with Lew on his recommendation that paint and some creative work with painters tape will go a long way. I did it with the original Vigolix and the paint job still looks good. The big thing I personally recommend, although I don't see it done much is skip the paint and brush and just get some and enamel spray paint and spray on primer. Since you are using MDF for your CP, it should add a nice gloss sheen, feel slick and smooth, and be a bit more rugged than a standard latex. Watch a youtube on how to apply paint if you don't have experience.




I also wouldn't touch edge banding. It eventually does fail. If I had another go again at that Vigolix, I would have just slightly rounded the edges with a router and faked T-molding by just painting the edges black.

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2021, 05:53:25 pm »
Imho t-molding is a requirement.   Much like the bumpers on a car door it's worth it's weight in gold when it comes to preventing dings and scratches, both on your cabinet and your house when it comes time to move it. 

Vigo

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2021, 05:59:21 pm »
Control Panel - 15"x7".  My plan is for a two layer construction to hide the joystick mounting plate & screw heads - 5/8" plywood inside the sides & front and 1/8" hardboard or similar top over the sides and front.  I'd love to have some artwork, but I'm open to suggestions on what works best for control panels.

If you want cheap and easy, you can always just learn to love those bolt heads. :cheers: (Just use mushroom head carriage bolts, nothing with a screw head.)



Imho t-molding is a requirement.   Much like the bumpers on a car door it's worth it's weight in gold when it comes to preventing dings and scratches, both on your cabinet and your house when it comes time to move it. 

I agree, but I am going to say it is forgivable on a budget bartop/mini. Anything with 3/4ths wood, then for sure yes. Also good to have a pile of cheap T-molding on hand if you do the random project, then you don't even think about it as an expense.  8)

bobbyb13

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2021, 09:33:14 pm »
A cheap way to get graphics on wood would be inkjet to wood transfer. You print your mirrored graphics on a sheet of paper that barely holds the ink but doesn't absorb it, press it onto the piece of wood and thereby tansfer the ink to the wood.

This is a big one that I did as a standalone:


This one is from my 'Pinup' cab:


This is very cool.
Special type of paper and/or ink I imagine?
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yamatetsu

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2021, 12:32:28 am »
This is very cool.
Special type of paper and/or ink I imagine?

No special ink. To quote the internet: 'The process is quite simple: use your inkjet printer to print the image on a non-porous surface, like the leftover glossy part of a used sheet of labels. '

There are tons of vids how to do it on youtube, this is the one that I stumbled upon a few years ago.
                  

Vocalitus

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2021, 02:48:59 am »
Dowels and wood glue is my version of cheap.

You would be surprised how well it makes a cabinet solid.

ericball

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Re: Q: best cheap way to finish a cabinet
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2021, 04:12:17 pm »
No special ink. To quote the internet: 'The process is quite simple: use your inkjet printer to print the image on a non-porous surface, like the leftover glossy part of a used sheet of labels. '
I got tired of dealing with inkjet printers years ago and invested in a color laser printer.  But neat effect none the less.
MAME Projects % completed:
2004 3 sided cocktail cabinet w/ modular CP <25%
2004 Tempest cabinet & CP > 75%
2017 Raspberry Pi Zero W w/ Lakka microconsole 50%
2021 Vertical Bartop - in progress