I knew that I'd want to have something with a bit more flair than just plain straight black on the cabinet. The huge majority of people seem to cover their control panels with marble-print shelf paper. That sounded good to me, so I picked up a roll from Home Depot. Unfortunately, because I had already put the sides on the control panel, it was a near impossibility to get the paper to stick to the panel and look right.
I then decided to use one of those "crackle"-finish spray paints. However, NOBODY seems to make the crackle finish paint that's black with white crackles. Every other wacky color combination under the sun exists, but not black with white crackles! I was so close to finishing this damn thing, and this one roadblock was really holding me up. I had finally given up and was searching around for other options (I was going to maybe go with one of those "stone" or "metallic" finishes) when I found one hardware store that had one set of Krylon "Marble Craft" paint left...black with white accents! Woo-hoo!
The Krylon Marble Craft is a pretty odd product. The base is just normal black spray paint, but the white accent actually spurts the paint out in a consistency that's pretty close to silly string. It gives you a look that's somewhere between a true marble finish and a "paint splatter" finish. I first tested it out on a piece of wood (the first draft of the control panel to be precise) just to get a feel for how it flowed, and also to make sure that I was happy with the results of how it looked. Once I was satisfied, I painted up the control panel. After I applied the white finish on it and let it dry, I gave it three coats of good old Mixwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Clear Gloss. It turned out better than I had hoped.
I also picked up one of those clear plastic 90-degree corner pieces that you normally nail to the corners of your walls to keep them from getting nicked, and I nailed that to the top front of the control panel. Not only does it keep the corner from getting chipped, but it also feels nicer on the wrists than the plain wood.
It's funny, because you would normally think of a 19" monitor as being pretty big, wouldn't you? However, once you mount it in an area that's 32" wide, that 19" monitor starts to look a little dwarfed. Not only that, but you're left with a LOT of plain black surrounding the screen. Taking my cue from Shadow's PC Arcade cabinet, I decided to place artwork from various classic games around the screen to spruce it up a bit. Shadow has his pictures available for download on his page, so I grabbed the ones that I wanted - although they were smaller than I needed them to be. I also pulled quite a few other pictures from various places on the Net (most of them being artwork from pictures of the original marquees), blew them up, cleaned them up a LOT, and then printed them out on a color laser printer.
I cut the pictures out using an exacto knife, and stuck them around the screen on the poster board using a spray-adhesive.
I also printed up an instruction sheet on how to play games on the cabinet, as well as a picture of the control panel layout and what keys everything maps to. All of these are stuck directly on the poster board. They're behind the plexiglass, so they're well protected. This was a great move, as they REALLY add a lot to the look of the cabinet. Once you walk up to the cabinet and notice a whole bunch of your favorite arcade characters adorning the front of it, you know that you're in for a wild multi-game arcade ride! Big thanks to Shadow for this idea!
So that's that. I poured an awful lot of time and work into this thing, but it was worth every second. I have to admit that it's pretty cool being the only guy on the block with his own home-built arcade machine. And now I can regress back to my youth any time that I want to! I hope that this page was a fraction as fun for you to read as the cabinet was for me to build.
So here it is in all its glory. These pictures were taken in various levels of lighting to show different parts of the cabinet. Click on any of these for a bigger pic:
Why did I do that? How did I do that? Feel free to drop me a line.