Controller Wood Box Question

Hey guys/gals need some help before i purchase some wood tomorrow, any experienced arcade stick makers or wood workers out there that use exotic wood?

This is what i read on slagcoin “Natural wood panels expand, contract, and warp very easily”

I wanted to use one of these woods for the box: Beech European, Myrtle South American, New Guinea Rosewood.

So the questions are

  1. should i make the whole box out of one of these woods?


  1. should i use MDF for the controller panel and bottom panel and the rest use one of the woods?

Well, I’ve never used exotic woods or anything… but it comes down to personal preference.
If you’re gonna put artwork on your box and use lexan or plexi or something, i’d go with the MDF for the panel. Exotic wood is not gonna be seen, so theres no real point to spending extra money.

For the bottom, i’d suggest MDF again. Noone ever sees it. Even better would be plexi, so then you could see the insides and it’d be cool :smiley:

Again, it comes down to personal preference… and make sure you show us nice pictures of your exotic wood finishes :smiley:

yeah i was thinking plexi for the bottom, i thought plexi produces static? i would love to use the exotic wood on the control panel but with this quote below, i’m quite worried about the expand and contract part of things.

“Natural wood panels expand, contract, and warp very easily”

Remember that if you are working with hard woods you are going to need more powerful tools and it will take longer to cut them and do things with them. The harder the wood the longer it will take. If this is your first arcade stick, I highly recommend starting with MDF because its cheap, soft, easy to work with, and takes paint pretty good.

All wood contracts, warps, and expands… its a living organism.

With the panel area, its going to be tough to find hardwoods that are 1/4 and 1/8 thick that are not super expensive, and thats why many stick builders just use MDF, or I actually use HDF. A 2x6 MDF 1/4 and 1/8 board is like $4.50 and hardwoods at the same dimensions is going to be much more expensive.

at the moment money is not an option, prob gona be my only stick build so might as well use something nice =) i can get the exotic wood cut to size that’s no prob, looks like its going to be MDF for top and bottom

would a thickness of 6mm be to thick for a control panel? i’m going to mount a JLF with the plate

The way that I do it (not sure about other stick builders) is I sandwich 2 pieces of wood together, one 1/8th and one 1/4th which makes 3/8. With the lexan top being a 1/8 it comes out to be 1/2. I top mount the plate on the 1/4 piece.

So doing all the mat for that, it comes out to be 6.35mm of thickness. So yeah, 6mm is good. I think you should bottom mount yours.

For the top use MDF, its quite expensive and difficult to use hardwood for a top section. For the bottom, I lean toward Tempered Hardboard (Masonite board, a little over 1/8" thick, this is the stuff peg board is made out of). Its strong, inexpensive, easy to cut, and makes nice looking bottom panels. it is also similar in thickness to your plexiglass, giving you a touch more room inside the box, allowing slimmer boxes overall (Although that may not be a concern for your first box)

Heavier/more dense hardwoods can be difficult to shape, and some woods like to splinter along the grain. Keep this in mind if you plan to route the edges etc.

i was thinking of getting 2 pieces of 3mm MDF, bottom mount the JLF on one piece, then sandwich the pieces together, would that work?

Yes, it would, but you have to remember that this is an arcade stick and you’re going to be slamming it to hell and back, make sure you get a decent thickness, especially with MDF, so that its sturdy.

Also, don’t forget to measure in the lexan top.

fixed that for you :stuck_out_tongue:


are lexan top necessary if you plan to put art work on?

Lexan, acrylic, Plexiglas, polycarbonate… anything really.

Lol… wait… :shake: :sad:

i used half inch mdf for the top and the bottom for stability and weight.

Canto is a tree hugger…:sweat:

anyway… at least it’s more enviro friendly vs. plastic


quick question: What’s the recommended jointing method for a case?

It’s anything that works for building anything boxlike. I used to watch a lot of New Yankee Workshop and The Woodwright’s Shop so there are just hundreds of joins that are appropriate.

Butt joints might be the easiest. You can also peg those with dowels or use biscuits to add strength. Even countersunk screws work on these, if you are planning on puttying over and painting.

There’s also nothing to stop you from doing fancier joins like mortise and tenon or dovetails. It’s really whatever method works for you and what your goals are for the final results. If you’re looking to stain some kinda hardwood, I’d say go with a fancier join because it’ll look nice.

Really, it’s down to your goals for the case and your abilities. A good solid join of just about any type should hold well enough for this application.