Once I decided that I really wanted to go through with tackling this project, I needed to figure out exactly how I was going to go about it. The biggest tip that I could give anyone would be to check out all of the sites that you can under the "Examples" section of Saint's Build Your Own Arcade Controls FAQ. There's a wealth of knowledge to be found just by checking out what and how other people built. Most people are more than willing to share what they did that worked, as well as what they did that did not work.
So on to the cabinet itself. Your two basic choices are to either acquire a junk cabinet from somewhere and gut it, or build your own cabinet from scratch. Given the level of customizability (is that even a word??) of this project, I opted to build my own. I didn't want to be tied down to the dimensions of a cabinet that I bought from someone. In hindsight, it was a pretty arrogant decision when you consider that I had never built anything out of wood or even operated a circular saw in my life, but it's the one that I went with.
Building my own cabinet meant that I'd have to design the whole thing myself from top to bottom. I basically just started looking at the dimesions of every cabinet that I could find (both home-built and commercial) and drawing them out on graph paper to compare and contrast them. That gave me a decent groundwork, but I knew that I'd want my cabinet to be pretty different from most. First off, I'm a big freakin' gork. I'm not the 12-year-old who remembers playing a lot of these games so long ago; I'm now a 6'3" guy who would probably end up with some kind of spinal disorder if I spent too much time hunched over a "standard"-sized arcade cabinet. So I spent a lot of time doodling around with graph paper and doing a lot of measuring to try to get a general "feel" for what I wanted. I eventually came up with the design that you see here.