How to build a glass display box

Written by debbie dragon
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A glass display box is a beautiful way to display precious collectibles that are simply too special to keep tucked away in a cabinet or a box. With a step-by-step plan and basic carpentry skills, you can build a gorgeous glass display box for a small item.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Table saw
  • Router saw
  • Power mitre box
  • Measuring tape
  • Wood for box: one 1x48x48-inch board and one 12x24-inch board
  • Band clamp
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Wet-or-dry sandpaper (very fine grade, 200-600 grit)
  • Stain
  • 5 glass panels, cut to dimensions
  • Finish nails

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  1. 1

    Draw the design for your cabinet on paper, including the dimensions for the size box you want to make. To determine the proper size, measure the items you will be displaying in your glass box then add a couple of inches to the measurements so the box is large enough. These instructions are for a small glass and wood box to display a single item or two.

  2. 2

    Cut the wood to the dimensions of your cabinet. In this first cut, all pieces can be about 2 inches longer than the final dimensions. Measure for the base of the box and mark those measurements on the wood you are using for the base. The base should be larger than the inside size needed for your display. The easiest base to build is box shaped with right angles and equal sides. Cut a second base piece, an inch smaller all around to place on top of the first piece. This gives your box height and dimension. Now measure the wood for the frame of the display (1" x 1" wood) and mark them. Make the frame an inch smaller than the smallest base piece. You need eight frame pieces.

  3. 3

    Cut the boards with a crosscut to the exact measurements needed for the length. Cut the wood lengthwise, called ripping, to the exact widths needed.

  4. 4

    Cut the grooves into the frame pieces that will hold the glass in place with a table saw or a router. The groove should be 1/4-inch deep. The inside pieces of the frame will need grooves cut into two sides to hold the glass.

  5. 5

    Use a mitre saw to cut the outside edges at a 90 degree angle on one edge of six of the eight frame pieces.

  6. 6

    Measure the area inside the frame to make sure the glass panels fit properly. The glass panels each need to be 1/4 inch larger than the frame so there is excess to fit into the grooves. You will have a total of five glass panels--the four sides and the top of the box.

  7. 7

    Use the router to cut a square groove into the inside of the smaller base piece.

  8. 8

    Stain all pieces with two coats, letting dry thoroughly between coats and after the final coat.

  9. 9

    Apply a thin layer of carpenter's glue to the bottom of the small base piece and lay on top of the larger base. Use nails or screws to secure--making sure to nail or screw from the bottom up.

  10. 10

    Put the frame together on top of the base. Insert the glass panels to hold the frame pieces together. Using carpenter's glue, attach the bottom of the frame pieces to the base.

  11. 11

    Nail from the bottom base up through the frame pieces at each corner, avoiding the glass panels.

  12. 12

    Put your items for show inside the case.

  13. 13

    Put carpenter's glue on the 90 degree angle cuts and place the remaining glass panels in the grooves.

  14. 14

    Place clamps on the top edges and allow to dry completely.

Tips and warnings

  • When cutting narrow wood, use a stick to push it through the saw to avoid injury to your fingers.
  • Always remember to measure carefully, twice, before you cut the wood.
  • Only a small amount of carpenter's glue is needed.

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