Monday
Nov162009

The Cabinet Start

After spending an eon tediously painting my backbox I decided it was time to build the cabinet. I don't like painting at all so it was good to get back into the wood working.

Cutting It Up!

For the main cabinet I'm using 18mm thick MDF, same as the backbox. Real pinball machines use plywood but MDF is a much cheaper option and does the job well. I mentioned before that cutting MDF makes so much dust but did you know that some hardware stores (Bunnings here in Australia) can do a lot of the hard work for you? Thanks to a fellow Hyperspin-fe.com forum member 1up doing the same thing I saved my self a lot of time by buying a new sheet for $32 and had Bunnings make all the straight cuts for the cab. With a circular saw and homemade saw board you can do this yourself, but at $1 a cut (which they didn't even charge me for some reason) I saved a lot of time which is great when you have a young family to attend to!

Straight cuts for the cab. I had enough MDF already for the job, but $32 for a new sheet and to save me a morning worth of work and a load of dust was well worth it.

Make sure you double check your measurements with Bunnings and they will do a very accurate job. Remember measure twice cut once, especially when someone else is doing the cutting for you!

A Firm Foundation

The cabinet will be nudged, lent on, bashed angrily and suffer many other forms of abuse over the next few years so you want to make sure it's strong, really strong. The key to this is creating a solid floor for the cabinet and here some straight pieces of pine make a rigid base for the MDF floor to sit on. This floor structure height also provides a good base for the sides to be screwed into.

Clamping the base. Do yourself a favour and get some quick grip clamps like these.Using the sheet of the MDF as the guide I measured and cut the pine to size. I'm not sure what the strongest arrangement is but I went with shorter pieces on the inside of the structure. A single screw holds these in place on each corner and then I flipped the entire piece over and screwed the MDF to the pine all around the edge to get a real strong and tight fit. All screws were pre-drilled first, a very important step with MDF and pine or you can split it

The large clamps come in very handy. I really don't see how you can build anything without some clamps like this. I thoroughly recommend them.

Side Panels

When designing the cabinet shape the side panels needed an angle to match that of a real machine. As the cabinet is shallower (i.e. the side length is less) I just followed the same angle and ensured it matched. The end result is a pinball cabinet that is literally shallower but the height of the front remains the same to fit the coin door etc. It doesn't matter if the back is lower in height provided the angle looks right.

Using the circular saw I cut the angle on both pieces by clamping them together. This way the two sides are identical.

The side panel in place. It is starting to look like a pinball cabinet now.

With the side panels in place, I added the front panel and placed on the lockdown bar just to make sure it fits. Seeing the lockdown bar on just made me want to nudge and bump it but I better finish it first!

Testing the lockdown bar and it fits. Phew!

Air Cooling

With a powerful computer installed and this cabinet sealed with an LCD TV and glass it is likely to get hot, very hot. I will be installing two fans on the bottom of the cabinet to pull air in and another two at the top / back to blow air out. You want to consider where you place the fans on the floor of the cabinet because you need to fit a computer in there aswell as subwoofer speaker preferably.

Inlet holes for air intake placed towards the front of the cabinet.

To cut the holes i stenciled a hole to the size of the fan (standard computer case model) that I will be using. Then pre-drilled a hole and used the jigsaw to steadily cut these out. I tried to keep the spacing all even and matching, especially on the back of the cabinet because attention to detail is important! "Perfect" holes are less important here as a fan grill will be covering any imperfections, however I tried to keep the circles as smooth as possible.

These fan holes are placed up top for blowing the hot air out of the cabinet.The back panel has been cut in size for a future door I will be adding. This feature is optional but being a computer based cabinet I want to be able to access this area easily.

Putting It Together

With the remaining pieces already cut it's just a matter of clamping it in place and drilling and screwing it together. I predrilled all the holes and counter sunk them. It's important not to miss this step because I need a super smooth finish on the exterior. All the screw holes will be filled with (wood filler) and sanded back smooth when installed.

Next I will be building a drawer and back door for the back to make that side of the cabinet easily accessible when assembled.

 

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