This is a rebuild of my first pair of joysticks. The new ones are the same size and shape as the old ones, but are made from 3/4" plywood. The MDF just wasn't holding up. I finished the playing surface with Hammerite, while the bottom is finished in truckbed liner. Both finishes are more durable than regular spray paint, which is always a plus with something that gets handled a lot. Additionally, the truckbed liner provides a little grip to keep the sticks from sliding around on one's lap.
Inside are buttons from Happ Controls wired to a cheap Logitech gamepad. The stick is an optical model, and it has a much better feel that the microswitch joysticks I was using before. The one caveat with the optical joystick is that it works by breaking a beam of light. So the signal coming out of it is active-low. The gamepads expect the opposite, so I built a small quad inverter using discrete MOSFETs to "glue" the joystick and gamepads together.
Overall, this was a worthwhile rebuild. The optical sticks feel much better, and the plywood cabinets are a lot sturdier. The next step is to go wireless.