Memorial Flag Case With Only 45-degree Angles




Introduction: Memorial Flag Case With Only 45-degree Angles

About: Be limited only by your imagination.

In this Instructable I would like to describe my version of the case for the memorial American Flag used to honor military veterans at their funerals.  I wanted to simplify the woodwork and so came up with this version which only uses four 45 degree cuts.  Even these cuts don't need to be exactly perfect, though you should try to make them as close to 45 degrees as possible.  Note that the first picture is of a flag case I previously made with a darker stain.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

These are the materials you will use:
  • ¾ inch oak plank (at least 67 inches long) and at least 4 3/8 inches wide
  • Round wood plug
  • Square glass cut on the diagonal (to yield two isosceles triangles)
  • 1 inch wood screws (2)
  • 1 ½ inch wood screw (1)
  • Masonite
  • ½ inch wood screws (6)
  • Stain of choice
  • Polyurethane or finish of choice
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Brass plaque with adhesive backing
These are the tools you will use:
  • Table saw with ability to tilt blade 45 degrees
  • Tape measure
  • Phillips head driver
  • Drill
  • 1/16 inch bit for pilot holes
  • Drill bit for wood plug
  • Sabersaw or jigsaw
  • 90 degree clamp (optional but it really helps)
  • Paint brushes

Step 2: Get the Glass Cut

You begin by getting a square piece of glass.  The length of the glass in my case is 18 inches.  There is a 1/4 inch deep slot cut into all three piece of wood.  The glass is cut so that 1/4 inch protrudes from the two upright sections and this allows you to attach the base and have it set.  Go to a good hardware store that cuts glass.  Get single-width glass and ask them to cut two isosceles triangles. 

Step 3: Cut the Lumber to Size

First you have to rip the lumber so that it is the correct width.  My cases are 4 3/8 inches deep.  Second you need to chop the three pieces.  I begin with uprights that are about 1 inch longer than I need and a base that is about 1/2 inch longer than I need.  So for my case the uprights were 18 7/8 inches long and the Base 26 3/4 inches long.  Note that both upright pieces are trapezoids.  The measurement is along the long edge.

Step 4: Cut 45 Degree Bevels in the Top Pieces

In this step tilt your saw blade at 45 degrees.  Note that when you make a cut you are making a reciprocating 45 degree cut on the adjacent piece.  If you flip the board over you will at that time have a perfect 90 degree joint.  Then measuring carefully make another 45 degree cut on the other end of each piece.  Remember that your measurement (18 7/8 inches) is on the long side of the trapezoid.  I found that it was best to cut a bit long and then keep working in until I hit my "cut mark."  The tricky part here is making sure that the 45 degree cuts are at the right orientation.  You are making a trapezoid and not a parallelogram! 

Step 5: Cut a Slot for the Glass

Using a scrap keep raising your saw blade until it is 1/4 inch deep.  Then set the fence to 1/4 to 3/8 inch away from the blade.  Then run all three pieces (the two top pieces and the base along the fence to create the slot your glass will fit into.  My saw blade's kerf is wide enough to only require one pass but test your glass for fit and if it needs to be widened then move the fence 1/36 inch further and make another pass.

Step 6: Join the Two Top Pieces

Make sure that the glass slot is on the same side and then spread a light layer of wood glue on both pieces and join them at 90 degrees.  A 90 degree vise helps here but you could also just use a 90 degree measure and hold them together with masking tape on the joining and along the top.  Just make sure that they are joined.  You will let this dry and then drill a hole for the screw that joins the pieces.  Make sure to use a drill bit that creates a wide enough hole that you can use a flat-head plug which you will wood glue in.  Alternately you could fill it in with wood putty or sawdust and glue.  After everything sets, sand this down.

Step 7: Temporarily Join the Base

Put the base piece on, again being sure that the glass slot is in the right place.  Your glass should be extending about 1/4 inch as you can see in my picture.  when you put the base on the glass should seat into the slot.  Then drill holes on the base extending into both uprights at a 45 degree angle and drive 1 inch screws in.  Be sure not to screw thru the uprights.  You might have a wee piece of base jutting out.  Just run that in small passes thru a table saw on a sled until it is flush.  Then unscrew it all.  Carefully remove the glass.  Now sand all over.  I like to "break the edge on the uprights to give it a bit more of a finished look.  I've also used a router to round it slightly but I really like the sanded look.

Step 8: Stain and Seal the Project

Use stain if you want to and then apply three coats of polyurethane or your choice of protectant.  Leave ample time between coats and rough the coats with very fine grained (220 or more) sandpaper.

Step 9: Insert the Glass Again and Screw It Tight

Insert the glass and screw the bottom on tightly.  I don't glue the base down because this will allow me to repair the glass if I ever need to by disassembling the unit.

Step 10: Trace the Outline in Masonite and Attach the Back

After tracing the outline of the case in Masonite, cut it with about 1/16 inch removed.  Then use the 1/16 inch bit to drill six pilot holes for the backing.  Use the 1/2 inch wood screws to attach the Masonite to the back of the case.

Step 11: Insert the Flag and Use Foamboard to Hold It in Place.

You might need to shave the foam board to get the right width.  Once it is in place screw the Masonite to the backing.  Attach the brass nameplate in the front.  Enjoy. 

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    8 years ago

    Danieljay. Brilliant idea. You will have to adjust the width I use foam to fill the space in. I'd live to see that. You'd also want to not glue the bottom so you can access the flag. Also you'd reinforce the bottom joint more. I rely on the backing as a stabilizer.


    8 years ago

    Articpenguin. Good point. In fact all the cuts are 45 degrees but yes at the top it combines to 90


    I agree it is a nice display case, as well a great instructable.
    The title says "only 45' angles", where it is actually "one 90' and 2x 45' angles". Maybe just edit the word 'only' out. To have all angles the same they would have to be 180/3= 60' angles.
    I'll have to see if this would work with our flag here in Canada.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice work. And thank you for the hand-drawn diagrams. They really help.

    Is there any reason I shouldn't use the extra piece of glass to make the flag visible from either side of the case?


    8 years ago

    hello i from Denmark. really enjoy the way your have made it. beautiful work. all the way from Denmark, Jan Jochimsen.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Jan - Thank you so much for your compliment. This is my first-ever compliment from Europe!


    8 years ago

    Phil thanks for your thoughtful and encouraging comments. I agree on all fronts. The back is only screwed on and not glued for the reasons of access you note.

    I consider it an honor to make these for my family. And as someone that never was called upon to serve I feel it is a patriotic obligation.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    8 years ago on Introduction

    A flag case you make is so much nicer than some of the cheap things available in craft stores and elsewhere, and so much less expensive than some of the solid wood flag cases available commercially. I am seeing more flag cases made with 45 degree angles, like you did. Those 22.5 degree angles are difficult. I would like to make jigs that hold the pieces at just the right angle and slide against a table saw fence, but I have not done it, yet.

    When making a flag case there are a number of decisions to be made and those govern how the case will be made. I think a flag case should be capable of being opened, in case the flag needs to be repositioned or removed, etc. If the back can be glued to the sides of the flag case, there is more rigidity; but, then the bottom must be made so it can be removed.

    As WW II and Korean War veterans die, or even Viet Nam veterans, there will be more and more people who need a flag case. Thank you for publishing how you made yours.