How-To : Giant NES Controller




Here is my instructable on how I built a giant (working) NES controller/trunk.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: What You Need

I added a downloadable file of the basic parts and measurements you need for this project so you can print it off if you'd like. If not here is a list of the basic parts needed.


Bolt/Screw - 14
Washers - 24
Switches - 8
Spade terminals ( 4 – 6 stud ) - 30 or more
5 pin plug ( both male and female ) - 1
P – Clamps - a bunch
Locking Nuts - 14
Small Springs ( must fit over bolts ) - 10 - 14
Non-Skid Protectors (felt ) - 14 or more
“Piano” Style Hinges - 2 ft at least
Different Colour Wires - 9
NES Controller - 1
Various amounts and sizes of screws

The Controller:

48 x 21 in. - 1 ( ¾ in. MDF )
48 x 3 ½ in. - 2 ( ½ in. MDF )
20 x 3 ½ in. - 2 ( ½ in. MDF )
48 x 21 in. - 1 ( 1/8 in. MDF )
47 x 20 in. - 1 ( 1/8 in. MDF )

The Trunk:

(all ½ in. MDF)  

48 x 16 in. - 2 
20 x 16 in. - 2 
47 x 20 in. - 1 
47 x 2 in.   - 2 
19 x 2 in.   - 2    
48 x 3 ½ in. - 2 

I also made up some blueprints for myself to follow. I photocopied my controller and placed a sheet of tracing paper on top of the regular paper that the controller was copied on to. the reason i did this was so i could write and erase measurements and whatnot. I then took calipers and measured the actual controller in millimeters and just transfered that to centimeters. These measurements are more of a guide line than anything.

Step 2: The Controller

Depending on where you get your wood at you can usually get them to cut out the sizes for you. When i first started this project i had only a small idea of how big i wanted this thing. I Don't have a table saw, or one that works rather, so i had to rig up a jig so i could make straight cuts with the skilsaw. 

I then  took the 1/8 in MDF and cut out the raised parts of the nintendo controller. I relied on my blueprints and a rough estimate to get the spaces between the placing of the 1/8 MDF

For the sides of the controller i got a trim that was 3 1/2 in tall and 1/2 in thick. All i did was glue and brad those pieces to the bottom of the top piece to form a box. Once i got the sides on i then glued down the 1/8 MDF that way i had no nail holes to deal with.

Step 3: Controller 2

Once you have all the 1/8 mdf in place and glued i took the router router and recessed the space for the start and select buttons. i also routed out the hole for the D-pad. I then routed the edges of the whole top to give it a cleaner look.

I then took some fill to all the edges and later sanded it to clean up all the unwanted lines and imperfections.

The next step was to prime the lid.

Step 4: The Box

Im not going to take to much time on this part since all your doing here is building a box..
If you have any questions on building a box check out some of the instructables here.

The only major things i did to the box were routing all the edges for a cleaner took and i also added a lip on the inside to give it a little more strength and room for hinges.

I then Sanded, filled and primed the box to get it ready for paint.

Step 5: The Buttons

The  Buttons were tricky but fun to figure out. I got ahold of a 10cm hole saw bit and cut out my A and B buttons. Then got a 1in bit and cut out the holes for the start and select buttons.

The d-pad was cut out of 3/4in MDF and the arrows were cut out of the 1/8 MDF then glued them together and routed the edges.

To mount the buttons i cut out square pieces of MDF and used the Bolt/Screw to mount them with washers and springs giving it resistance and keeping it level.

To make the buttons actually work i needed switches. I found some momentary switches which you can get at hardware stores or tech shops like the source or radioshack.

For the D-pad i used a ball joint type bolt that my Dad found at work. it acts as a pivot point for the d-pad since it has to move in 4 directions. on the bottom of the D-pad i drilled a small dip so the ball could sit in comfortably. 

Once all the buttons were done i set them into the table to measure them for mounting and adjustments.

Step 6: Wiring

In the pictures a made up a wiring diagram for soldering to the board and to the plug. 

Cut off the chord that runs from the board in the controller to the console and solder those wires to one end of the plug. The rest of the chord that you cut off gets wired to the other end of the plug. This way you dont always have a chord coming out of the chest and when you want to play your favorite NES games all you do is plug in the chord.

Now solder your wires to the other side of the board and run the wires out to its corresponding switch. I used P-Clamps to hold my wire harness down and i used spade terminals tightened down by screws for easy removal if i need to fix or change anything.

I cut a hole and mounted the plug roughly where a real controllers chord would come from.

Step 7: Painting

Time for painting! for the body of the controller i unfortunately couldnt use Krylon products because i needed to colour match the ones from the controller. I did use Krylon paint and clear coat on the buttons though. It was wanting to spray paint the buttons in the beginning since they are funny shapes and would be easier.

Once i had a few coats of the light grey on the controller i masked off a small portion and rolled on the dark grey. Then i masked off the rest of the controller and rolled on the black. When i peeled of the masking i was pretty stoked!

The box i put the light grey on the inside and the black on the outside. i didn't want to do the whole thing black cause that just didn't feel right :p but do what you like to yours if you decide to make one!!

Now that it was painted i needed to get the decals. i tried cutting them out myself but it just wasn't coming out how i wanted. so rather then take away from all the work i had done by using crappy decals i just went and got them professionally done.

Step 8: Final Touches!

I wanted to make a cover for the underside of the table so you couldn't see all the wires and stuff. i added these spare pieces of wood to the inside and got some more 1/8in MDF and made a backing. Its held on by 6 screws so you can access the wiring fairly easily still.

I also routed out a recess for the hinge to sit in so it would be flush. I also added a chain to both sides so the lid wouldn't fly all the way back when you opened it. 

Step 9: DONE!

So there it is! How to build a giant NES controller.

If you have any questions about this or how i did something just leave a comment or message and ill try to answer it the best i can!

Happy Gaming!

Krylon Summer Projects Contest

First Prize in the
Krylon Summer Projects Contest

5 People Made This Project!


  • Indoor Lighting Contest

    Indoor Lighting Contest
  • Metal Contest

    Metal Contest
  • Make It Fly Challenge

    Make It Fly Challenge

157 Discussions


Question 6 months ago on Step 9

Omg. I love this. This is what I grew up playing. Would you ever consider selling one of these. I’m a lady and don’t have any of the tools to make this. If so please let me know the cost. I live in so cal.


Question 7 months ago

For the D-Pad the 4 Switch look dome shaped. Where do I get those dome shaped Buttons? Or are they something else?


2 years ago

I just purchased one of these from Etsy


Reply 2 years ago

It only took 1 sheet of 4x8 MDF for me, but I didn't build the box underneath.


3 years ago

A customer made one of these and brought it in for decals. We are able to make 100% official decals for your controller. Shoot us an email for the custom decals. $20.00 + shipping for the set.

2 replies

Reply 3 years ago

as in decals, do you mean the word nintendo, et cetera, or a decal set to make the entire controller image/top? Im making a coffee table with just the image, interested to know more of this set you mention.


Reply 3 years ago

as in decals, do you mean the word nintendo, et cetera, or a decal set to make the entire controller image/top? Im making a coffee table with just the image, interested to know more of this set you mention.


3 years ago

How many amps were the switches?


3 years ago

Can this be done in one day?

Lily The Creator

3 years ago

super cool I'm planning on making one for my brothers birthday...or mine :p


4 years ago

Hey man, I was looking at this and I really wanted to make this in the future. I have no experience with carpentry so is there any way I can buy the buttons pre built?


4 years ago

Can anyone let me know what type of switches were used for the Dpad I can see that push switches were used for start select, a and b buttons but I can't identify the d-pad to save my life

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Hay mate momentary swithes are used for all buttons there 99p for 5 on ebay and if your looking for the ball bolt thing the d-pad sits on its called a ball stud £3 on ebay


4 years ago

Hay can any one help me with a more detailed how to wire the controler ( from momentary switches to board )


Reply 5 years ago on Step 6

Mmm I used 16 but that's only because I found that whole wiring harness in the trash at my dads shop. I would recommend smaller. 18 or maybe even 20. 16 was a little clunky and hard to solder to the board.


4 years ago on Introduction

Has anyone considered trying a lift mechanism hinge for this? Could be cool having it lift up towards you and locking in place.