Introduction: Card & Photo Display Stand

About: Hi, I'm Doug Neiner! I'm a web developer by day with a passion for making things in the physical world. Most of what I make is primarily out of wood, but I'll also use paper, cloth or metal depending on the pr…

These easy-to-make card and photo holders look great, work well, and would make perfect gifts or products to sell at craft fairs or on Etsy.

The curved cut lets these stands support even thinner paper that would otherwise fall over if the slot were straight. They use only a small amount of wood to make one, and can be built with limited tools.

They came about as I was prototyping an idea – and got fascinated with making this curved cut. I found several different ways to do it, and eventually tried making the cut with a jigsaw instead of my band saw to make the project accessible to more woodworkers.

So grab your jigsaw, and lets dive in!

Step 1: Tools & Supplies

As with most woodworking projects, they can be tackled multiple ways. I've attempted to use limited tools on this build and hopefully you already have most of these in your shop. If you have access to a bandsaw, you can of course use that in place of the jigsaw.

For tools and supplies you’ll need:

  • Jigsaw with a titling base and a clean cutting blade
  • Either wood glue or CA glue
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Pencil
  • Compass
  • Sandpaper of various grits
  • Wood finish
  • A few clamps
  • Playing card you don't mind cutting up
  • Double sided tape (Unless you have a vise)

Optional tools (That will speed up the build)

  • Random orbital sander or belt sander
  • Small hand saw (I use a pull saw in the video)

Step 2: Materials

I love builds that let you use up scraps around the shop – or that let you use nicer wood because there is so little of it used in the project. THIS is one of those projects, so dig through your off-cut bin for pieces that match these dimensions:

  • ½" × 2" × 2½" Hardwood for the top (I used Cherry)
  • ¼" × 2" × 2½" Hardwood for the base (I used Walnut)

This project is very forgiving – if the parts are a little thicker or thinner than these measurements, it will probably still turn out fine.

Step 3: Marking the Piece

Take the ½” thick piece (for the top) and hold it so the 2" sides are on the top and bottom, and the 2½” sides are on the left and right.

Mark both 2" sides at 1¾” and 1 3/16" in from the left (What is on the left will become the back – so make sure you have the grain oriented the way you want it).

Set your compass to 5” and connect the 1¾” marks. You can just use trial and error to find the correct spot for the compass, it only takes a few adjustments to get it right. All you need to do is connect the dots.

For the outside curve, set the compass to 7" and then connect the remaining two marks. When finished with this step, your piece should look like the final photo.

With the lines marked, we need to set up for this cut. Finding a good way to clamp the small piece for this cut might be a bit of a challenge.

Step 4: Securing for Cutting: Option 1

If you have a vise, you may be able to use it to hold the small piece for the cut. Just be sure to use an offcut of similar width on the opposite side of the vise to prevent the vise from racking.

I'd not recommend this if all you have are metal jaws – as that could cause a problem if your jigsaw slipped and hit the jaws during the cut.

Step 5: Securing for Cutting: Option 2

If you don't have a vise, you can just use double sided tape to hang the piece off the edge of your table.

The tape will hold better after pressure is applied, so I used a clamp to ensure a good bond. To do this, clamp down hard on the piece, then release. Move the clamp over a little and repeat the process.

Strike a balance of hanging the piece far enough over you won't cut into your table, but far enough in it is as supported as it can be.

Step 6: Tilting the Jigsaw

I’m not sure if all jigsaws have moveable bases, but both of mine do, and hopefully yours does as well. To make an angled cut, you loosen the screws on the base, and then you can eyeball an angle at around 10º using the markings on the saw. You may need to slide the base back or forward to release the hard stops on the base. You'll want the blade angled away from the back of the workpiece when cutting.

Install a good quality blade. I am using a BOSCH T101AO "Clean for Wood" blade for this cut.

If your jigsaw has a setting that controls how aggressive the cut is, turn it down so you have maximum control over the cut. This controls the forward movement of the blade, and is separate from the speed. I used a higher speed for the cut, but you can play the control to find which speed works for you.

Step 7: Cutting the Angled Curves

Carefully cut just on the outside of the first line.

If you have trouble balancing the saw, you can use double sided tape and another piece of similar thickness to help stabilize the saw.

With the saw in the same orientation as the first cut, cut the opposing curve.

When you are done with the cut, you can remove the double sided tape.

Step 8: Refining the Curve

You might have a some uncut fibers at the end of the front piece – you can remove these with sandpaper. Just be careful to not flatten out the curve like I did here.

If needed, you can refine the curve some and clean up any cut marks, but a good quality blade will mean there is very little to clean up.

To test the fit, just slide the two pieces together (first picture). There should be a fairly tight seam. While the gap will hide some errors, try to get a good fit.

Before moving on, sand a very slight roundover on the mating edges.

Step 9: Gluing the Back

Before gluing the top parts to the bottom, make sure the faces that will be glued together are flat. Just a little sanding on a flat surface may be all you need to do here.

I’d suggest gluing the back first and using some small clamps to hold it in place.

Once you have that situated, clean up any squeeze out from the curved area. I used a straw, and just pushed along the seam to remove the glue.

Step 10: Gluing the Front

Before applying glue to the front, cut the playing cards into strips.

Next apply glue to the front of the stand. Be sure to keep this aligned the correct way during glue up so you don't apply glue to the top instead of the bottom!

To size the gap, use two of playing card pieces. I found that two cards gave me the gap I was looking for more than just one card - but feel free to experiment.

Press the piece firmly toward the back, then clamp it in place. Remove the cards before any glue squeeze out can set up. After a minute or two, run a card through sideways a few times to remove any extra glue.

I am using wood glue here, but you can also use CA/super glue (last picture) as long as you are careful not to get any squeeze out into the gap. If you do, it is very difficult to remove as it sets up very rapidly.

After the glue has set up, scrape away any remaining squeeze out.

Step 11: Trimming the Base

You'll end up with extra base where the curve is cut on the front. While you can sand away the extra material on the base, it will go faster if you use a saw to cut closer to the curve first. I am using a pull saw here, but you could also use the jigsaw to trim this closer.

Step 12: Flushing Up the Base: Option 1

If you don't have a power sander, getting the base fully flush with the top can be done with just some patience and a piece of sandpaper. I think I was using 150 grit in this photo – and a more aggressive grit would have done the job even faster.

You want the bring the base flush with the top pieces, matching any angles that are present.

Step 13: Flushing Up the Base: Option 2

If you have a power sander, the process of making the base flush with the top will go much faster. I clamped an orbital sander upside down in a vise, but you could also just hold the sander with one hand and the piece in the other.

Be sure to use an aggressive grit so this process doesn't take too long. The goal is the same as with the hand sanding: a base that is flush and matching any angles of the top.

Step 14: Refining

After the base is flush with the top, inspect the stand for any problem areas. If found, you can refine those areas with hand sanding.

It is hard to see what I am doing here, but I pulled sandpaper across the edges to even up the gap.

Step 15: Final Shaping and Sanding

At this point, the shape is almost complete. All that needs to happen now is applying a round-over to the outside edges of the stand. You can accomplish this with the orbital sander or just hand sanding if that is all you have.

To round the edges on the sander, just roll the piece over – checking frequently – until you have a curve you are happy with.

After that is formed, keep sanding away any saw or sanding marks until you work up to a finish grit of 220 (or higher if you prefer).

Ease the sharp edges of the top and bottom with sandpaper – and do any final refinement before applying finish.

Step 16: Applying Finish

Once you are done, apply a finish of your choice. I love the look of oil on wood, so I am using Danish Oil. I applied it a few times over the stands and let it sit a short bit before wiping off any excess finish.

Step 17: Putting Them to Use

These stands can be used to hold a number of different paper and cardstock items. Here are some usage suggestions – but I would love to hear more in the comments!

  • Photos
  • Menus or Daily Specials
  • Verse Memory Cards
  • Placeholder Namecards
  • Inspirational Quotes

If you have a piece of paper that isn't quite as sturdy as you'd like in the stand, you can insert a scrap of cardstock behind it into the slot. This could be fixed with a smaller gap in the stand, but then you'd be limited on how thick a piece of card stock you could use with the stand.