Shadow Box

Building medium sized frame box with variable sized compartments is fairly simple and cheap. Here’s the material and tool list followed by the “how to” steps.

Tools/materials required:

  1. 1 – 2 inch x 1 inch x 8 foot stick of wood
  2. Wood glue (or in retrospect pin nail or other small gauge brad nails from an air nailer would be easiest)
  3. Miter saw (optional)
  4. Table saw
  5. Sanding paper
  6. Clamps (not necessary if you use brad nailer)
  7. Stain/paint

Steps to make shadowbox

  1. Determine desired size (mine was ~16 inches x ~ 14 inches)
  2. Mark cut lengths on wood with pencil and cut at marks on miter saw. (I cut my ends at 45 degree angles, but this made the gluing and clamping step more difficult. I don’t recommend this)
  3. Position frame on flat work surface and glue and/or air nail the joints together to create frame.
  4. Take the remaining wood stick and rip it down the middle on your table saw to result in 2 thin slats of wood, half the widths of your frame. I find this 2:to:1 ratio of interior partitions to exterior frame to look the best
  5. Cut a length of slat a couple millimeters longer than the width or frame of the interior of the frame.
  6. Sand down one end of the slat until you are able to just barely squeeze it into the wood frame without it bending. Remove the slat, apply a tiny layer of glue and slide back into the frame.
  7. Now cut a length of wood a couple of millimeters longer than the distance between the new slat and one of the sides of the frame, and repeat step 6.
  8. Continue steps 5, 6, 7 repeatedly until you get to the desired look/number of compartments.

Sometimes it’s easier to learn by seeing:

Note that I made my frame by cutting at 45 degree angles. This is a moderate aesthetic improvement not nearly worth the increased level of difficulty.