Replacing T-Molding Last Updated on: 6/19/2013

Another great tip from Mark Jenison! Maybe I should just have a section for just his tips. Let me know if you like that idea.

NOTE: I do not agree with his use of Glue, I have found that the T-Molding stays in the grooves nicely and by adding glue, it makes it a real pain in the ass to remove later. I am not aware of any game manufacture that actually glued the T-molding in.

Also depending on the the T-Molding, cutting slits in them may not be necessary. It was not necessary when I did my Donkey Kong. However, I have run across T-Molding that would require it.

Now on to Mark's Tip #6!

Small Tip #6

Most all cabinets are made up of some sort of wood, and to protect the edges of the wood, the manufacturers used T-molding. T-molding is a rubber-like plastic which fits into a slot that has been routed at the edge of the wood, and protects the edges from splintering and chipping. Sometimes the T-molding did it's job but took a bad beating. And sometimes the T-molding would get loose and people would rip them out of the wood. Either way, you end up with an ugly, maybe severed, piece of T-molding on your game. Now you want to replace it. Here's how.

Purchase the T-molding that you're game requires. There are all types of T-molding, though. Some are smooth, some are textured, some are deeper, some are wider, some are black, and some are colored.

Mazzco, Happs, Wico all are sources for T-molding. Arcade games typically use 3/4" wide T-molding. Measure how much you will require for your game, and add an extra foot just to be on the safe side.

Once you get your T-molding, CAREFULLY and slowly remove the old T-molding. Take the new T-molding and do a "dry run"; insert the T-molding around the wood panel to verify you have enough T-molding to make it around. For example, imagine this ASCII art is a Tempest game (side view):
| \
| \
| /
| |

There are 6 straight edges on this game (the bottom is only partially T-molded). Do one edge at a time. When you get to a corner, take a utility knife and make some notches in the T-molding at the bottom of the "T", like so (more ASCII art):

Side view of T-molding
___________________ <--- top of the "T"
/\ /\
____/ \____/ \___ <--- notches in the bottom of the "T"

These notches allow more flexibility of the molding, allowing it to bend more at the corners, and STAY bent (prevents bowing). If the corner is an inside corner, you can simply put slits in the T-molding.

Once you've done your dry run, break out the wood glue. Use plenty of glue, and do one edge at a time. If the slot is broken out or the cabinet is starting to split such that the T-molding won't stay firmly, you may want to get some Liquid Nails (a common construction caulking tube dispensed adhesives) and squirt that in the slot first. Clamp until the glue dries if the cabinet is splitting.

Insert the T-molding into a straight edge, tapping it in with a rubber hammer if you can't press it in all the way by hand. Wipe off excess glue with a damp rag. If your game has curves, you may want to try using tape to hold the T-molding in place, but make sure first that applying the tape will not harm the artwork! If the slot it loose, you may want to wait until the glue on one straight edge dries before progressing to the next. It is possible to do it faster, but I personally would rather go slow to guarantee that no bowing occurs at the corners.

Repeat until the entire game is finished. For the bottom, you may want to consider driving some tacks or nails into the T-molding center in order to make sure the T-molding doesn't pull up from the bottom when moving the game around.

All done!


  • T-molding
  • Wood glue
  • Rubber hammer (optional)
  • Liquid Nails (optional)
  • References
    Wico, Mazzco, Happs, just about any amusement/vending supplier should have a source for T-molding. Just make sure you take the proper dimensions from the existing T-molding, including style, color, depth, width, and length. The rest of the materials you should be able to pick up at a local hardware store.

    Advanced Tips
    If you need to cut your own T-molding grooves for your own cabinet you're building, you'll need the correct T-molding router. This router piece can be picked up for around $25 from these stores:
    Woodworker Supply (1-800-645-9292. 24 hr. order number) P/N 132-053.
    The Woodworkers store (1-800-279-4441) P/N 48876 (1/16 Kerf) or P/N 95332 (5/64 Kerf), depending on what size you need. They also sell T-molding.

    Another Note from Nathan on USENET:

    The dremel cutting discs also work for the task of cutting groves for T-molding. I think I paid $5 for a package of discs and the spindle that they attach to. To cut the grove, first draw a centerline on the edge of the wood and then use the disc to cut the groove. This way may be more difficult and more costly than buying the tool, but it is cheaper and it does work.


    And one from Bob Roberts on Safety:

    If you decide to use the above tool, even if you are an experienced router user, use extreme care with these. They can do a number on you if you're not careful. This is the thing I dreaded most about building games...not the router, but the T-blade...real sharp teeth & if you hit a bad spot in the wood, you're apt to recreate a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

    Very well done Mark. I'd say that the rubber mallet is not an option, though, as it is the only way to get it to seat good without marring the face.

    You did this so well that I hate adding yet another tidbit, but it may be useful to someone. If your cab's opening is too wide, you can also use the spring clamps (clothespins) with plastic tips on them to hold it together in any weak spots.

    I keep a lot of different size spring clamps around here, as they have multiple uses. Almost as good as another pair of hands.

    Happy Gaming/Holidays.......
    Big Bear Thanks The Real Bob Roberts
    For parts

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