How to Make an Acrylic Display Cabinet

Written by hugh patterson
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How to Make an Acrylic Display Cabinet
Cabinets come in all sizes and shapes. (kitchen image by Rich Johnson from Fotolia.com)

Acrylic display cabinets protect valuable objects while offering a complete view of the items within. Acrylic is a practical alternative to glass because of its greater impact resistance. Acrylic is lighter than glass and can easily be cut. Because acrylic panels can be glued together, it's an ideal material for transparent cabinets. Commercially made acrylic cabinets can be expensive. Making an acrylic cabinet can save you money while offering a customisable look.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Acrylic
  • Acrylic cement
  • Squeeze bottle syringe applicator
  • Gluing jig
  • Clamps
  • Grease pencil
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic hinges
  • Painter's masking tape

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Draw a layout of the cabinet. Include any shelves and doors. The drawing should have three sections: the front, top and side views. Add measurements to the drawing. Make a list of the individual pieces needed for this project. A cabinet with a single shelf will have a top, bottom, left and right sides, shelf and door panel. Acrylic bows under its own weight so ¼-inch thick acrylic should be the thinnest material used for cabinets under 2 feet square. Remember to include the material's thickness into your measurements. Have the acrylic cut to the correct sizes. Purchase the sheet acrylic, glue, applicator and acrylic hinges.

  2. 2

    Lay out the acrylic to make sure each of the component pieces fits together properly. The top and bottom are supported by the sides. The back fits onto the perimeter of the cabinet frame (the top, bottom and side panels). The shelf fits in between the side walls, and the doors attach to the front. Use 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the acrylic's saw-cut edges. Remove the protective backing from the acrylic. Fill the squeeze bottle with cement.

    How to Make an Acrylic Display Cabinet
    Double-check all measurements to ensure a proper fit. (tape measure ruler image by MichMac from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Line up the edges of a side panel and the top panel so that the side panel is perpendicular to the top panel. Clamp a gluing jig to the acrylic to hold it in place. Apply a thin bead of cement to the inner joint between the panels. Let the joint dry for an hour. Repeat the process for the other side and bottom panels.

  4. 4

    Place the back panel on a flat surface. Lay the assembled cabinet frame on top of the panel. Run a thin bead of cement along the inside joint between the frame and the panel. Let dry.

  5. 5

    Draw lines with the grease pencil to mark the shelf location. Cement the shelf inside the cabinet. Use the grease pencil to mark the hinge locations. Use acrylic hinges because they can be attached with acrylic cement. Tape the doors carefully to the front of the cabinet. Cement the hinges in place. Allow the doors to dry for two to three hours.

Tips and warnings

  • To avoid spilling acrylic cement onto the exposed acrylic, cover the areas near the joint with plastic sheeting held down with blue painter's tape. For a glasslike edge, use a plastic polishing compound to buff out the sanded areas.

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