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Check my steps for painting arcade cabinets

Discussion in 'General Airbrush Discussion' started by rackoon, Feb 20, 2017.


  1. rackoon

    rackoon Young Tutorling

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    I am painting several arcade cabinets and need them to turn out great. Just materials for each cost about $1800 so a crappy paint job wont do.

    If you dont know what i am talking about, think a pac-man arcade machine.

    Each side is about 6' x 3' and I am only painting the sides.

    Goal: space background with realistic green flames on the bottom and aliens attacking from above, only the flames will be freehand the aliens and ships will be from stencils I have made.

    Material is MDF or multi density fiber board

    primer - duplicolor sandable primer (once sprayed do I need to sand and how long till I need to paint, can I wait weeks?

    Base coat- house of Kolor bc25 I think. I was going to buy this in a spray can (should I do more than one coat and should I sand it?

    Intercoat- never used this before. I was also going to buy this in a spray can. Not sure how much time it will buy me.

    Art Kandy colors are green, neon green and white

    Clear coat - Spraymax two part Should I sand before this or how many coats are needed?

    you guidance will be a big help
  2. JackEb

    JackEb Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    You've stated in your intro thread that you are building these as part of a teaching class..... HOK are urethane, appropriate ventilation and respirators needs to be right at the top of your consideration list for the health of your students, the rest of the school and yourself
  3. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    I hope this doesn't come across as disrespectful - but with such an expensive job, and with so many questions I suggest a practice panel, even with advice, not having used the products, or methods before it will save some issues in the long run, and you will learn how the products and processes behave in relation/reaction to each other. Running before you can walk could prove costly with so much money at stake.

    Before you get advice, is the mdf raw or already treated, and if so how? You should treat this as any other hard surface job, but knowing exactly the surface you're starting on can avoid paint reactions later.

    Also it doesn't sound like you have cleared before? I strongly suggest you practice this too, it can make or break a job. Not that its hard but you need to be precise and comfortable with flash times. Also with aa 2k,( and urethanes generally) you need to be properly set up to avoid making yourself (family,, neighbours etc) ill, or polluting the environment/water table.
  4. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    After typing at the same time as JackEb, I checked your intro after reading her post.

    In view of that, I strongly suggest a water based approach, taking the cabinets elsewhere to be cleared. Uros/2k is not good for a school environment, (I'm assuming no paint booth, but even so, with kids water based is safer) and with the health risks I'm pretty sure either the schools or your own personal insurance will not cover its use. I know I would not be able to use it in my school. Even with water based I would need proper ventilation/fans, masks, safe cleaning station etc.
    JackEb likes this.
  5. Basstrack238

    Basstrack238 Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Yeah, I think a bit more research and practice. 2 part clear and urethane is nasty stuff.
  6. rackoon

    rackoon Young Tutorling

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    No disrespect taken. Been practicing for months with these paints outdoors and I yes have a proper mask. I almost have true flames down, been lots of fun. Back in my days we did flames on motorcycles with tape, no freehand. I worked in a paint shop in my 20's airbrushing signs on trucks.

    Also, my school is half high school and half construction school. My students are cleared to build houses and are hazmat certified through the union. We have several large roofed ports to work under. Its an old navel yard donated to us.

    I was told not to use water based paint on mdf. Just a sweat drop makes it swell. If you think the primer will protect it from the moisture of water based paint I could try it.

    You are correct though I have never clear coated with spray-max.

    I am open to any sugestions
    MeeshellMP likes this.
  7. Malky

    Malky Pencil Pushing Protagonist Elite Member! Very Likeable!

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    You can use water based paints on MDF, my day job is painter and decorator and I do it almost every day, you would only get swelling if you had pools of liquid lying on the panels wet for long periods of time, but normal painting with even coverage would have no adverse effect since water based paints are generally quick drying, many of us coat MDF panels with gesso for doing artwork on and gesso is water based, the only problem we come across is warping which is easily counteracted by coating both sides evenly and allowing to dry.
    JackEb likes this.
  8. Amra

    Amra Gravity Guru

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    When I did my own arcade cabinet, I laminated the sides. Not sure if that's an option but would give you a more forgiving surface for airbrushing, given its a hard and sealed surface. If not, it would be best to prime the mdf, then do two or three coats of a quality paint, then airbrush on top of that.

    There are a couple of web forums entirely devoted to the building, restoration and playing of arcade cabinets. Plenty of posts specifically about painting those cabs. Cheers!

    http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/

    https://forums.arcade-museum.com/
  9. rackoon

    rackoon Young Tutorling

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    Thanks for the replies, I have been posting on arcadecontrols for close to 10 years. I have built 5 arcade cabinets and now working three more at the same time. A lot of people have the stickers put on the sides. Those run about $200 bucks. So in the past I have spray painted them and did a logo down the side with a hand made stencil. Or, I paint them black and put a small 24" round sticker on each side.

    Wanted to do something special this time. I am kind of looking forward to using my artistic skills.

    Regardless, I have several colors of auto air paints on the way and I was wondering if I should use primer under the auto-borne black sealer? Its label says it sticks to wood well. If I should use primer what kind?
  10. Amra

    Amra Gravity Guru

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    Nice to meet a fellow long term member, been a member on that site for around 14 years myself! Yeah, I agree that vinyl prints are a pretty common methods for doing sideart, but can be quite expensive. I like your idea of doing something special and more personalized.

    I can't speak for everyone, but I don't usually paint directly on wood because it often ends up looking washed out or faded as the wood is porous and soaks up the paint quite readily, not to mention that the neutral tone of wood doesn't always make a good base color and finally because occasionally natural oils in the wood can cause issues with certain kinds of paints (water based paint esp). I prime to seal the pores, and paint to give me a good background color. I've used Gesso to prime smaller wood projects in the past, but given the size of a cabinet that might be prohibitively expensive, but any non-wax and non-oil based sealer/primer should work. Just sand first, then sand between coats to smooth out any raised grain/surface texture, 320grit or so should be smooth enough between coats, generally no need to go with super fine grain sandpaper on wood.

    Hopefully someone else with more experience painting on less prepared wooden surfaces can offer additional assistance. Good luck!

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