How to Make Shadow Box Display Cases

Written by katherine harder
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How to Make Shadow Box Display Cases
Display vacation keepsakes such as shells in your shadow box. (shell image by lena Letuchaia from

Shadow boxes display three-dimensional objects and tableaus inside a shallow, usually glass-covered and framed box. Organise and exhibit your many keepsakes and tchotchkes in a DIY shadowbox display case. Pay homage to any event or memory with your shadow box, with items such as family heirlooms, small wedding day or baby shower decorations, or vacation memorabilia, or create an open, functional shadowbox display to decoratively store and display jewellery or other small everyday items.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wood box with slide-out lid
  • Acrylic paint, more than one colour optional
  • Medium-sized paintbrush
  • Small paintbrush (optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Felt or decorative paper
  • Scissors
  • Spray adhesive
  • Balsa wood (optional)
  • Utility knife (optional)
  • Strong craft glue (optional)
  • Glass sheet cut to your lid's dimensions

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  1. 1

    Paint the exterior and interior of your box; use different colours for the box's border and interior walls if you want, but one colour works fine. Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat if necessary.

  2. 2

    Measure the inside of your box. Cut a section of felt or paper to these dimensions. Spray the back of the felt with adhesive and place it over the back wall of the box.

  3. 3

    Cut a section of balsa wood to a length that matches the box's width and to a width that is slightly less than the box's depth. Paint this shelf to match the box and allow the paint to dry. Attach this small shelf to the box using craft glue if you'd like a shelf in your box; otherwise, skip this step.

  4. 4

    Slide the glass into the lid's slot.

Tips and warnings

  • Find inexpensive wooden boxes in the unfinished-wood section of your local craft store. To minimise the cost of this project, choose a box with dimensions similar to picture-frame sizes, such as 5 inches by 7 inches or 8 inches by 11 inches. This way, you can purchase an inexpensive frame and use its glass in the project, instead of a custom-cut piece of glass.

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