Acrylic display cabinets are ideal for showing ornaments, antiques and collectibles. They provide an all-round view of the objects within and keep dust at bay. Ready-built acrylic display cabinets, however, are costly. The answer is to make your own. You can build an acrylic cabinet to hang on the wall or stand on the floor. What's more, you can design the cabinet to suit the size and number of the items you want to display.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Acrylic sheets
- Acrylic hinges
- Graph paper
- Fine-toothed saw
- Chinagraph pencil
- Acrylic glue and applicator
- Masking tape
- Extra fine grade sandpaper
- Sanding block
- Angle plate
Use graph paper to create a scale plan of your cabinet. Be precise with your measurements. Draw an individual plan of each side, the top, the bottom, the back and any shelves or doors. Remember: for added strength, the top must rest on the sides.
Buy the acrylic sheets. A company such as Wootton Industries offers a good selection. (See References 1). The sheets come in thicknesses from 1/8-inch to ½-inch. Use ¼-inch sheet for a cabinet up to 24 inches wide and deep.
Place the acrylic sheet on a bench and clamp it. Use wood blocks beneath the clamps' jaws to avoid scratching the acrylic. Mark the lines of your saw cuts with a chinagraph pencil and ruler. Cut the acrylic to size with a fine-toothed saw. Clean the teeth of the saw as you cut: the acrylic shavings soon clog them.
Fold a piece of extra fine grade sandpaper around a sanding block and sand the acrylic's cut edges. Use careful, even strokes. Place the acrylic sheets together and ensure they match. Peel away the sheets' protective backing paper.
Place the top panel and a side panel together. Check the accuracy of the 900 join with an angle plate. Clamp the top panel and side panel together. Place masking tape approximately 1/8-inch from each of the joined edges. Using the applicator, apply glue to the length of the join. Never use anything other than suitable acrylic glue. (See References 2). Allow the glue to dry. This takes an hour.
Glue the rest of the cabinet's frame in place using the above procedure. Glue one piece at a time. Put the frame on its back and mark the position of the shelves with the chinagraph pencil. Put one shelf into the cabinet and keep it in place with blocks of wood cut to size. Attach masking tape along the bottom side edges of the shelf and the cabinet sides, leaving a gap of 1/8-inch. Use the applicator to apply the glue. Allow the glue to dry. Repeat the process for each shelf.
Use the chinagraph pencil to mark the position of the acrylic hinges on the doors and the sides of the cabinet. Be sure to use specialist acrylic hinges. (See References 3). Glue the hinges to the doors and wait for the glue to dry. Glue the hinges to the cabinet's sides and use masking tape to hold the doors in place. Leave the cabinet overnight. The following day, glue any door handles and catches in place.
Tips and warnings
- Handle acrylic sheets with care. It's easy to scratch them in a workshop.
- Ensure good ventilation when using glue.
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