Introduction: Retro Arcade Cabinet

About: Passionate woodworker and web developer. Also own

I set out to build a raspberry pi arcade cabinet but wasn't sure exactly how I wanted it to look. One thing I did know is I wanted it to have an old school vibe to it, something like an antique table top radio/tv. This is what I came up with.

Step 1: Cutting Plywood for the Front, Back and Bottom Panels

First up was cutting some 1/2" plywood for the front, back and bottom panels. I made these cuts over at the table saw.

Step 2: Adding a 3/4" Radius on the Top Corners

The top corners on the front and back panels received a 3/4" radius curve. I made a template out of some scrap plywood to make this task easier and to help produce consistent results. I trace the curve on one side, flip the template over and trace the other side.

The good thing about templates are you can then use a flush trim bit at the router table to get an exact copy which means the veneering process later won't have any irregularities.

Step 3: Routing the Template

Over at the router table I inserted a flush trim bit (also known as a template bit) with a bearing on top. This bearing will ride against the template that I put in to place using some double sided tape. I use push pads to keep my hands away from the bit.

After I route one side, I flip the template over and stick it to the other side of the panel and make the same cut. This leaves me with 2 identical corners.

Step 4: Marking for the 10" LCD Screen

I picked up an 10" LCD monitor for ( this project but regret not looking for a 4:3 monitor. This is probably my biggest response to this project. BUT, i'm super happy with the quality. Ok, back to the project.

I am tracing lines for the monitor on the front panel.

Step 5: Cutting Out the Monitor Panel

I drill 4 holes in the front panel using a 1/2" drill bit to then use my jigsaw to remove the traced on panel. This can't be done on a bandsaw because the bandsaw blade will leave a kerf cut in the panel.

Step 6: Lets Clean Up the Jigsaw Cut

As you can see, the jigsaw leaves a rough, crooked cut. To clean this up I used some scrap plywood pieces that have nice flat edges. I stuck them in to place using some double sided tape and then took the panel back over to the route table with the flush trim bit and cleaned them up.

Step 7: Cutting Grooves for the Speaker Grill

I used a 3/4" straight bit to cut these 2 grooves for the speaker grill. Since the plywood is 1/2" thick, I cut them in 2 passes, raising the bit each time. To cut the second groove I pushed the fence back 1" and made the second groove. I would recommend using a nice sharp straight bit if you do this.

Step 8: Lets Make Some Rabbets!

I put a 1/4" by 1/4" rabbeting bit in my router table and cut rabbets on several sides of the front and back panel for the curved panels. I also used this same bit to cut a rabbet for the LCD monitor.

Step 9: Back Door

I knew that I would need constant access to the raspberry pi so I cut a spot in the back panel for a door over at the bandsaw.

Step 10: Mounting the Monitor

I take the screen out of the bezel and mount it in the front panel simply using hot glue. I didn't want a permanent bond in case I needed to replace it. It's a tight fit so the glue is going to be fine for this task.

Step 11: Speaker Grill and Brad Nails

I cut a 2" hole in a piece of 1/4" ply for a little 2" pc speaker I had lying around. This ended up working perfectly. I also picked up some antique radio grill cloth from Etsy and used super 77 spray adhesive to glue it to the speaker plywood panel.

With that done I started putting the box together with some brad nails.

Step 12: Painting the Plywood Edging

I didn't have any material to act as a bezel so I painted the plywood edging with some gold metallic paint(Gold paint: I applied the paint with an artists brush.

Step 13: Putting the Curve on the Box

I cut some 1/4" plywood panels for the top, left and right sides of the box and traced the arch to help determine what I needed to remove from the panels. I tried kerfing plywood but this radius was too tight and it caused the plywood to break.

Step 14: Veneering

For this project I picked up some nice mahogany veneer. I used a product called "heatlock" veneering glue. It's super simple to use and all you have to do is apply the glue to the plywood and the veneer, let it dry and then use an iron on medium to apply the veneer. It reactivates the glue, causing the pieces to bond.

Step 15: Back Door

I attached the back door using some small brass hinges and also glued on a brass knob. This added a nice touch to the look of the box granted it was the back lol.

Step 16: Finishing the Veneer

I ran into an issue while applying the veneer which caused it to rip. I put some timbermate wood filler on the rip and it did a great job hiding the rip. You can still see it but it's better.

For the finish I applied 3 coats of this semi-gloss varnish, sanding in between coats with 320 - 400 grit sandpaper.

Step 17: Accessories

This box looked great, but it was plain. I added 4 antique radio buttons to the front and some brass feet to finish it off. It really made the box look great.

Supplies used:

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:

Veneer Supplies: Heatlock veneer glue:

Super-soft veneer softener:

Step 18: Raspberry Pi Info

I used a raspberry pi v3 model b with retropie for this arcade cabinet and couldn't be happier. It was super simple to get installed and is a blast to play.

Maker Olympics Contest 2016

First Prize in the
Maker Olympics Contest 2016

Wood Contest 2016

Participated in the
Wood Contest 2016