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If you're like me and have been infected with the MAME bug, you might have at one point asked yourself, “What have I gotten myself into!??” Looking at an arcade cabinet thats sitting in a corner of your house can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time if you don't know where to begin.

Too many times have I seen someone buy or build a cabinet to start a project, only to find it's not going as quickly or smoothly as they'd like, so they either abandon it or do a half-hearted job. Building your own arcade can be likened to creating a one of a kind piece of furniture, and after all, why shouldn't it be? You plan on keeping it around for a while, right? So why not treat it with the same attention to detail as you would say a coffee table or homemade entertainment center? (pun intended)

A quick and easy way to get the ball rolling is to pick a job that isn't difficult, but has a lasting and dramatic effect on the overall appearance. I'm talking about coin doors. Every arcade machine ever put into circulation had coin doors, and not all of them survived the abuse dished out by angry patrons whose last quarter got “ate.”

In this article, I'll be describing a few methods that can be used to enhance the overall look of your MAME cabinet's coin door. The entire process takes about an hour, minus the time allowed for the paint to dry.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is to assess current condition of the coin doors you have right now. If you received a cab with all the hardware stripped (or your DIY cab didn't come with doors), you can usually find a coin door on eBay for about $20. Happs Controls also has a wide selection of doors to choose from, but I would recommend going through a reseller like Bob Roberts, rather than ordering straight from Happs. You'll save money and support the little guy!

So now it's time to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much do I care about the appearance of my arcade?
  2. Are the doors I have now damaged beyond repair?
  3. Is it worth my time to try and fix them, or should I just pitch it and buy new ones?

Once you've answered those questions, its time to get to work.

Straightening Things Out

We'll start by examining the physical condition of the metal. In the picture below, most of the damage was done to the cash door where the edge meets the frame, near the cam lock. More than likely, this was a failed break-in attempt that left the metal bent and twisted, but not unsalvageable.

Start by working the metal back into shape with 2 pairs of pliers. Use one pair to hold door, while the other bends the metal back.

After a few minutes, the edge should be getting pretty straight. It won't be perfect, but if you work slowly and pay attention to the details, you'll be happier with your results in the end.

After you've worked it as best you can, sand the rough edges with some high grit paper. In this case, I've chosen a 240 grit wet/dry. Sand the rough spots but don't go overboard. All you're wanting to do is round off those burrs (if you have any).

If there are more edges to be straightened out, use the same method as before and take your time — MAME will still be here waiting for you when you finish ;). Once that's done you're ready for the next step, prepping for paint.