How to Build a Hinged Shadow Box

What You'll Need
Plexiglas panel
Silicone adhesive
Door latch
One half sheet of 3/8-inch particle board
One length of hardwood (approximately 10 feet by 6 inches, 3/4 thick)
Wood glue
Wood screws
Pin nailer (optional)
Portable drill
Various drill bits
Set of hinges
Stud Finder (optional)

Building a hinged shadow box is not a great secret consists of constructing a picture frame with the sides and bottom extending out from the backing anywhere from 2 to 3 or more inches. This extension depends on what is to be displayed within the shadow box. The hinge will connect a glass panel cover to the shadow box, protecting the objects inside from dust and keeping them more secure. 

Step 1 - Measuring Shadow Box Dimensions

As mentioned earlier, the depth should be determined by what is to be placed within the shadow box. It should also be decided if shelves are to be installed within the shadow box. These will facilitate adding additional items to the shadow box for greater variety and appeal. Once the width, length and depth of the hinged shadow box are determined, the hardwood and particle board backing should be cut to the desired dimensions. Dry fit all pieces for accuracy before final gluing.

Step 2 - Shadow Box Construction

Cut top and sides of the hinged shadow box to approximate dimensions. For greater strength and aesthetic appeal, cut miters on the ends of each of these pieces and glue together using masking tape to hold them in place. For additional strength, consider using a pin nailer to nail these pieces together.

Lay face down on the workbench and router a 3/8-inch border around the back of this frame. Fit the piece of 3/8-inch particle board within this border. Apply a thin bead of woodworking glue inside this border. Next, fit the particle board backing into this frame, using the pin nailer to secure it tightly to the framing top and sides.

Step 3 - Shadow Box Hinged Cover

Build a 1½-inch wide frame to cover the width and length of the hinged shadow box frame. Miter the ends of this piece for strength and its appealing joinery. Put this piece on the workbench, face down, and then carefully router out a ¼-inch border on the inside of the frame. Apply a thin bead of silicone adhesive within this border, and then carefully attach a precisely measured and cut piece of Plexiglas.

Step 4 - Attaching Hinged Cover

Hold hinges against the top of the shadow box approximately 3 inches from each end. Mark and drill the holes to accommodate the hinge screws. Carefully align the hinges to the shadow box cover, and then mark and drill holes. Secure one screw in each of the hinge sections. When hinged shadow box and cover are aligned perfectly, tightly screw home remaining screws.  

Step 5 - Sand and Apply Finish

Sand all surfaces to desired smoothness with grades of sandpaper beginning with 100 grit and finishing with 220 grit. Stain the shadow box to desired color, and then apply several coats of varnish.