Here’s a great project to make sentimental showcase display boxes as a gift, jewelry box, or to showcase memorable moments. This is an affordable way to not buy new pricey shadow boxes and also a unique way to recycle your old picture frames. I’m going to show you a super easy way to make these without using nails. Do you remember my jewelry box ? This is a great base for that DIY.
First, you will need a wooden picture frame. This will be the display door for the case. You will need to remove the backing and glue the glass directly onto the frame. Next, measure the outside dimensions of the frame. This will serve as your measurements for the box portion of the DIY. The outside perimeter of my frame is 13 inches x 16.5 inches. The thickness of the frame is 1 inch. Now I will be using my measurement as a guide but keep in mind your box measurements will be different depending on the frame you use.
Next, you will need material to make the box of the case. I am going to use a 1x4x8 pine in a finished surface. I like using the stain grade wood(a little more expensive then the rough studs) as the surface is smooth and ready to paint. There are cheaper options for lumber, but you may need to do some extra finish work and sanding to get the surface that you desire. I like using stain grade wood as it is pre sanded and there is a ery small chance of getting splinters =)
Now, with your lumber cut it into 4 pieces. You can have them cut this for you in the store. Most major hardware stores will cut it for free or for a minimal cost. This is where the dimensions of the frame come in handy. I asked for 2- 11.5 inches and 2- 16.5 inch pieces to make the box. Ok, so this is how I figured out the lengths of the pieces. Time to break out those calculators =) Just kidding. This is pretty easy math. I decided to use the long side of the frame as the main length of the box. I then subtracted twice the thickness of the wood from the shorter side of the frame to get the shorter box sides. Easy right?
We are going to use a simple straight butt joint, but if you have access to a mitre saw or know someone with a miter saw, you will cut the pieces at a 45 degree angle at the actual lengths of the sides. The miter method is stronger(and looks more finished), but if you don’t have access to that kind of saw, no big deal.
Now that you have the wood sides sorted out, you will need something to use as a backing to your box. You will need something thick and sturdy. I recommend using foam core board like this one. It’s less than $3 at the craft store for a large sheet and super easy to work with.
Next, you will need wood glue or a high heat glue with a glue gun. I will be using my hot glue gun for quicker results. If you use wood glue, I recommend using clamps or books to help hold your box together when drying.
To ensure you have night square corners and lines, you will need a ruler and a 90 degree ruler(carpenters triangle) to help perfect your corners.
If you want to have your case open up like a book, you will need cabinet hinges; I found these from home depot in the hardware section.
Finally, paint, brushes, and any decorations! Get creative and go nuts!
Now that you have all your materials, it’s time to build your box! Are you ready?
Step 1) Lay all 4 pieces of your wood together forming your box. Place your frame on top to make sure that you have measured and cut the sides right as well as ensure it is the right side. Next, mark the corners by drawing a connecting line. I do this to help remind you where to glue. It would be terrible to glue everything up and realize you glued up the wrong sides! The simplest thing can easily be overlooked so this little tip can be a lifesaver!
Step 2) Now it is time to glue all four corners together. Glue one corner at a time. A helpful tip is to use your angle ruler and press the wood against it. By doing so, it will help perfect your corners and make the other corners hold properly against each other. Work fast if you are using a hot glue gun or you wont have a tight joint if the glue cools before putting he corners together. Repeat this for the next corner, then glue the last piece on. Pretty easy right?
*To keep the box looking neat, Make sure to wipe off any excess glue.
Step 3) After the glue is setting in your box, it’s time to make the backing of the box. Take out the foam board and pen and trace around the outer lines of your box. Make sure your lines are nice and straight, than cut the board with a box cutter or blade.
*If you’re cutting a foam board like I am, I suggest you cut the same line several times with a fresh blade. Doing this will ensure a clean cut.
Once your back is cut, go ahead and glue that to the back of your frame. Run a bead of hot glue around the perimeter of your box and then place it on the foam backing.
Step 4) Ok, this is fun part! Time to finish the box with your personal touch! You can paint your box whichever color you like. Make sure to paint the frame as well. After a few coats of paint, I like finish it off with a coat of gloss for a shiny look.
Voila! You have just built yourself a DIY shadow box!
Now that you have made your case, it’s time to customize it to suit your needs!
I added hooks to my showcase and turned it into a jewelry case to protect my expensive statement necklaces.
To give it more of a personal touch, you can glue in decorative scrapbooking paper on the interior of the box. There are so many kinds of colors and textures available!
You can also add shelves. I suggest using balsa craft wood from the doll house section at the craft store (Michaels or Ac Moore). Balsa is super easy to use with a common utility knife. If you have access to a miter saw, I would recommend a more durable wood. You can also use more of the sturdy foam sheet it you like. They’re both easy to cut by hand.
To put in shelves, start by measuring the inside of the box. Then cut your material accordingly. Next, to glue in the shelves, simply measure and mark where you like to place the shelves, place them in and then glue the bottom and then the sides.
Last step to complete the shadow box is to add the frame. Place your frame over your box and make sure all sides are aligned. Take out your hinges and place it on the top. You frame should open like a book so make sure the hinges are opening outward before you screw in the hardware
Here is a great tip to make it easier to screw in the hardware. When you first place the screw on the box, use a hammer to lightly tap the screw down making a divot into the wood, then screw it in. This will help keep your screw from going in crooked.
To see how I made this into a jewelry box click here: http://bit.ly/XrTgIM
Other than that, enjoy you your new box and remember to have fun and be creative!