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How to Make a Shadow Box Frame

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Old 03-20-2020, 12:40 AM
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Default How to Make a Shadow Box Frame

You can easily make your own shadow box frame to display your favorite objects or artwork with a few materials and a little bit of effort. Start by measuring the item you want to display so you can gather the right materials. Choose a thin sheet of plywood to serve as the backing and a thicker length of plywood that you can cut to size and form the sides of the frame. Use wood glue to hold them in place and use nails to secure the sides of the frame. Use a wooden picture frame with the glass already attached to it to make a front panel. You can then paint it a color that will make your item stand out, and youíre ready to display it!


[Edit]Cutting and Sanding the Wood
  1. Measure the item that you plan to place in the frame. The artwork or objects that you plan to place inside of the shadow box frame needs to fit inside of it. Use a ruler or a tape measure to find the length and width of the item so you can make a shadow box frame that fits it.[1]
    • Write down your measurements so you can easily remember them.
    • For example, you could have a painting that measures that you want to install inside of a shadow box frame.
    • If youíre giving the shadow box as a gift, or you donít know the dimensions of the artwork, choose a common shadow box measurement such as , , or .
  2. Buy a piece of thick plywood for the backing. Purchase a sheet of plywood in good condition that is as close to your measurements as you can. Look for pre-cut sheets of plywood that fit the dimensions, or purchase a larger sheet that you can cut to size.[2]
    • You can find thick plywood at your local hardware store or online.
  3. Cut the plywood to size, if necessary. Use a ruler and trace the dimensions of the shadow box frame onto the thinner sheet of plywood that will serve as the backing. Then, use a circular saw to cut along the lines and cut out the plywood so it matches the measurements.
    • Use a pencil or marker to mark the dimensions on the board.
    • Use the ruler to draw a straight line so you can cut along it with the saw.
  4. Get an board measuring . Buy a length of thicker plywood that you can measure and cut to size to build your shadow box frame. The thicker board will form the top, sides, and bottom of your frame, so cutting them from the same piece of plywood will ensure that theyíre uniform and consistent.[3]
    • You can purchase plywood boards at hardware stores, at home improvement stores, and online.
  5. Cut the top and bottom pieces from the board. Measure the top or bottom of the plywood backing that you cut and then mark the measurements onto the plywood board. Use the circular saw to cut 2 segments from the board to form the top and bottom pieces of the frame.
    • You can also use a table saw or a hand saw to cut the board.
    • You will end up with 1 sheet of thinner plywood and 2 lengths of the thicker plywood.
  6. Subtract from the length and cut the side pieces. Subtract the thickness of the top and bottom boards from the total length of the backing to find the length of your side boards. Then, cut them out of the plywood.[4]
    • The 2 top pieces will be the same length as the width of the plywood backing of the frame. The 2 sides will be slightly shorter than the length of the backing because of the top and bottom pieces.
  7. Sand all of the pieces of wood with 180-grit sandpaper. Use gentle, circular motions to lightly sand all of the pieces of wood to remove splinters and rough patches. Pay extra attention to the edges and the sides that were cut so the boards are even and consistent.[5]
    • Wipe or blow off any sawdust from the surface of the wood when youíre done sanding.
    • You can use an electric sander as well.
    • Look for sandpaper at hardware stores and online.
[Edit]Assembling the Frame
  1. Apply wood glue to 1 of the short boards. Take 1 of the shorter length of boards that will form either the top or the bottom of the shadow box frame and squeeze a line of wood glue across the bottom edge of it. Use enough glue to form an even and consistent line along the bottom.[6]
    • Wood glue is available at home improvement stores, at hardware stores, and online.
  2. Press the glue side of the short board to the top edge of the backing. Press the short board at either short end of the plywood backing so the edges of the board and the backing are flush against each other. Hold the board in place for about 10 seconds so it sticks.[7]
    • Gently release pressure from the board so the glue holds it in place.
  3. Clamp the boards together with a C-clamp for 1 hour. Tighten a C-clamp on top of the board to apply pressure while the glue bonds the 2 pieces of wood together. Leave the clamped pieces of wood alone to allow the glue to dry and bond them together. After an hour, release the clamp and gently wiggle the wood to make sure itís held securely by the glue.[8]
    • You could also use a jaw clamp or a screw clamp as well.
    • You can find C-clamps at your local hardware store and online.
    • Check the packaging of the wood glue for specific drying times.
  4. Drive nails into the 2 ends of the board. Use a hammer to drive the nails through the plywood backing and into the thicker board. Drive nails at both ends of the board to secure it to the backing.[9]
    • Use light hammer strokes to drive the nails into the wood so you donít crack the frame.
  5. Attach the rest of the boards to the backing to form the frame. Apply wood glue to the bottom edge of a board, press it to the backing, and then clamp it into place with a C-clamp. When the glue dries, drive nails through the backing and into the top and bottom of the board. Continue working until all of the sides are connected to the backing.[10]
[Edit]Painting the Frame
  1. Choose an acrylic or latex paint in a contrasting color. Shadow box frames are often black because it causes the art or object being displayed in the frame to stand out. You can choose any contrasting color to add depth and dimension to the item in the frame.[11]
    • Acrylic or latex paints are easy to apply to the wood.
    • You can find paint at paint supply stores, hardware stores, department stores, and online.
  2. Lay down newspaper or drop cloths over a clean work area. Clear a desk or table to use as a workspace while you paint your shadow box frame. Cover the space with drop cloths or newspaper so you donít get paint on anything and cleaning up afterward will be easy.[12]
    • You can use a tarp, plastic sheeting, newspaper, or anything else you donít mind getting paint on to protect your workspace.
  3. Use a paintbrush to apply a thin coat to the sides, inside, and back. Dip a paintbrush into the paint and use smooth, consistent strokes to apply a thin layer of paint to the wood. Paint the inside, the backing, and 3 of the sides. When the paint dries, paint the last side so you donít create smudges by holding the frame to paint it.[13]
    • Work to apply an even layer of paint.
    • Be sure to paint the corners and edges of the frame as well.
  4. Allow the paint to dry for at least 1 hour. Drying times can vary based on the type of paint youíre using as well as the temperature and humidity of the room youíre working in, but you need to wait at least an hour to allow the first coat of paint to dry. Test to see that itís dry by touching the paint with your finger.[14]
    • Check the packaging on the paint for specific drying times.
    • Work in a well-ventilated room to avoid breathing in the paint fumes and aim a fan at the frame to speed up the drying time of the paint.
  5. Apply a second coat of paint for better coverage. You may notice spots where you can see the wood through the coat of paint, so apply a second coat using the same smooth strokes to create an even and consistent finish. Allow the second coat to dry completely.[15]
    • If necessary, you can apply an additional coat of paint to the frame.
[Edit]Adding a Front Panel
  1. Use a picture frame with glass that matches your dimensions. A simple way to add a front panel to your shadow box is to connect a wooden picture frame that already has the glass connected to it. Choose a frame that fits the dimensions of your shadow box so it fits onto it evenly.[16]
    • Remove any backing or other materials from the picture frame so that only the front wooden frame and the glass remains.
    • You can buy new frames at craft supply stores and department stores.
    • Look for old picture frames at thrift stores that you can upcycle for your project!
  2. Drill 2 hinges onto the inside of the picture frame. Flip the picture frame over so the back is facing up. Use a power drill to attach a small hinge to the outermost edge of one of the sides of the frame near the top. Then, attach another small hinge to the outermost edge of the frame near the bottom so there are 2 hinges on the same side.[17]
    • Make sure the hinges are aligned with each other and evenly spaced from the top and bottom edges of the frame.
    • Use the small screws that come with the hinges.
    • You can find small hinges at home improvement stores, department stores, and online.
  3. Screw the hinges to the front edge of the shadow box frame. Lay the picture frame on your shadow box frame and align the hinges so they lay flat on the outer edge on the front. Use your drill to drive the screws into the shadow box frame so the hinges connect the picture frame to it.[18]
    • Open and close the front panel to make sure it works and the edges are lined up evenly.
    • You can also use a screwdriver if you donít have access to a power drill.
  4. Paint the front panel to match the rest of the frame. Use the same paint or stain that you used to paint the rest of the shadow box frame and apply a thin coat over the front panel. Allow the paint to dry completely and then add a second coat so none of the original paint or color is visible.[19]
    • Use as many coats as it takes to cover the panel without any of the original paint visible.
[Edit]Things Youíll Need
  • thick plywood
  • plywood board long
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • C-clamp
  • nails
  • Hammer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 2 small hinges with screws
  • Power drill

[Edit]Quick Summary
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