How to build a medal display case

Updated November 21, 2016

For those who have enjoyed success in a high school sport, Olympic competition, or military service, what to do with their medals is a serious question. Building a shadow box to display the medals not only protects the medals from becoming lost or damaged, it also displays them in an attractive and visible way. A shadow box can be created to display a single medal or multiple awards. Custom shadow boxes can be ordered through framing companies, or can be built from a few simple woodworking supplies.

Cut two lengths of 25 by 50 mm (1 by 2 inch) lumber 305 mm (12 inches) long, and two lengths 230 mm (9 inches) long, using a skill saw.

Square the ends of each piece using the mitre box and a hand saw. The finished length of the 305 mm (12 inch) pieces should be 11 inches. The finished length of the 230 mm (9 inch) pieces should be 215 mm (8 1/2 inches).

Cut an 215 mm (8 1/2 inch) by 280 mm (11 inch) rectangle from the 6 mm (1/4 inch) plywood, using the skill saw. This will be the back of the shadow box.

Create a rectangular frame, using the 280 mm (11 inch) lumber pieces for the length, and the 215 mm (8 1/2 inch) pieces for the width. Square each corner, and use the staple gun to attach the boards to one another. Staple the plywood to the back of the frame.

Stain and varnish the frame to give it a finished look and to protect the wood. Allow the frame to dry completely before working any further with the project.

Cut a rectangle of corkboard 215 mm (8 1/2 inches) by 280 mm (11 inches). Use the craft knife to shave away at the edges until it just slides snugly into the frame. Remove the corkboard from the frame.

Cut a 230 by 305 mm (9 by 12 inch) rectangle of velvet. Wrap the velvet around the corkboard and use fabric glue to attach it to the corkboard permanently. Allow the glue to dry completely.

Slide the velvet-covered corkboard into the frame. It should fit snugly, but should not bulge. Glue the back of the corkboard to the plywood back of the frame, using wood glue.

Attach frame hangers on the top side of the back of the display case, using 12 mm (1/2 inch) wood screws. The two hangers should be located near the corners, one-half to three-quarters of an inch in from each end of the box.

Use straight pins pushed into the corkboard to hang the medals in the box.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Hand saw
  • Mitre box
  • Skill saw
  • Craft knife
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Fabric glue
  • Wood glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Stain
  • Varnish
  • 25 by 50 mm (1 by 2 inch) lumber, 120 cm (4 feet) long
  • 6 mm (¼ inch) plywood, half sheet
  • 12 mm (½ inch) corkboard
  • Velvet
  • Straight pins
  • Frame hangers
  • 12 mm (1/2 inch) wood screws
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About the Author

Misty Barton has been working in the fields of composition and journalism for over 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in English education and a Master of Arts in English and composition. She has written for various online publications including a blog that specifically addresses the concerns of work-at-home mothers.