Architectonic Photo Cube




Recently I stumbled upon a Web-based service called "Fracture" ( that prints images on shatterproof glass. This inspired me to come up with a novel way to display a series of photos; one which capitalizes on the inherent physical properties of the glass (resisting small compression and shearing forces).

Pictured here is the end result of this thought experiment. By way of a very roundabout process, which included conceiving an intricate 6-way panel connector that, sadly, is almost impossible, or at least too expensive, to manufacture (the subject-to-be of a later instructable), I settled on an assembly constructed from parts found in the hardware aisle at Home Depot.

Rather than focusing on the imagery alone and allowing the framing mechanism to disappear--or perhaps just play a minor supporting role (literally)--in this project I chose to celebrate the display architecture. Follow these steps to do the same...

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Step 1: Ingredients

Here's a list of everything you need; no tools required (almost... the springs will slide onto the bolts more easily if you open up the ends a bit with a pair of needle-nose pliers). It's important to leave the nuts and bolts slightly loose or the glass may crack (I learned that lesson the hard way... twice!). The springs will hold the corner pieces in place, although it will take a little practice and dexterity to pull all of this together. Don't get frustrated. It can be done!

* 5 images of your choice printed on 8"-diag square glass (~5.6" per side) via (Note: Be sure to add the following in the comment field before completing checkout: "no mount please, but include white backing on all photos")
* 40 flat corner braces; 1-1/2"
* 24 corner braces; 1"
* 20 utility extension springs; 5/32 x 2-1/2 x .020
* 96 machine screws (round head combo); #6-32 x 3/4" (Note: You will only need 80 bolts, but you will need all 96 nuts.)

Step 2: Glass Corners

Assemble glass corner pieces using 2 flat corner braces and 4 machine screws per corner. Per my earlier comment, keep these loose and gently slide them onto the corners of the glass.

Step 3: Connecting Bottom Corners

Add the corner braces on the inside corners of the bottom of the cube. This will take some care and patience. This will not be the only time you'll need to remove and then reconnect some nuts and bolts to complete a step. No one said it was going to be easy!

Step 4: Connecting Top Corners

Add the corner braces to the top corners of the cube. Connect the springs on all vertical sides only. As I mentioned earlier, this will be easier if you open up the ends of the springs a bit with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Step 5: Adding Feet

Add the "feet" of the cube using 2 corner braces per corner. Again, you'll need to remove and reconnect a couple screws to complete this step. You'll see how these feet look in the next step when we turn the cube upside down.

Connect the springs on the horizontal sides of the bottom of the cube only.

Step 6: Top Assembly

Assemble the top of the cube as shown on the right side of this photo. Note: For correct spacing, the corner braces that connect the top of the cube to the base need to ride on top of the nuts that are holding the bolts in place on the flat corner braces. Then an additional nut needs to be threaded on the screw to hold the corner brace in place (loosely... as always!). This is where 8 of those 16 extra nuts that I mentioned in Step 1 come into play. Finally, connect all four springs around the sides of this top assembly.

Carefully turn the top assembly and the base assembly upside down as shown. (Now you can see how the feet were assembled in the previous step.)

Back off the inner screws along the tops of the four base images (see the one closest to the top of the lighthouse) so the base will fit on the top. Carefully lift the base assembly onto the top assembly. Turn the screws that you previous backed off so that they extend through the corner braces that are waiting to receive them. Add the final 8 extra nuts to attach the top to the base.

Step 7: Completed Assembly

Gently turn the cube over, add the final 4 springs along the top edges of the base photos and voilà... you're done!

Step 8: Final Version

... with internal illumination! For the lighting, I used three battery-powered "under-cabinet" led lights. The lights are carefully positioned to avoid lighting hotspots; the one pointing upwards is rather low to allow the light to spread out and soften. The remaining two lights are aimed horizontally at the back of the cube; this allows the light to bounce off the white backing on the backward-facing prints, resulting in a soft and even glow on the forward-facing prints.

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51 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction


I am itching to make this but i'm wondering, if i were to use smaller glass even just 5x5, do i need to change the size of the screws/springs/corner braces I buy as well?

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction


I believe the only part you may have to reconsider is the length of the springs. The corner braces will work the same--they'll just appear a bit "heavier" in proportion to a smaller cube.

Good luck!

Great job PG! And awesome to see my concept carried further with your design and functional enhancements. You made my day!


7 years ago on Introduction

ohhhhh you know i gotta make one of these...awesome. did u say you broke it twice? i thought it was shatter proof glass?

1 reply

7 years ago on Introduction

do you know if this project would work with regular 8x10 pics - i think it would be cool to be able to swap the pics out from time to time and if you used reg photos instead of the fracture glass then you could


7 years ago on Introduction


Took about 2.5 hours -- no accidents!

Definitely a patience-tester, though... but it looks great. The photos here don't do it justice because you can't tell the scale of the thing. Sorry for the blurry photo -- may try to reshoot but you can see that it's a solid match to your own!

Thanks again for sharing the steps!

1 reply

Thanks, Dan! I do remember you saying you got everything at the hardware store, but just wanted to confirm. Those springs seem like an odd item to carry.

Ordered my 5 pics... 10 day wait, but I'll be patient.

JK... FYI: Given the quantities required, don't be surprised if you have to visit more than one Home Depot to buy everything you need (I had to go to two). Also, the springs came in a 2-pack along with a different size spring that was of no use in this application--a bit of a waste of both money and materials--but I was too anxious to complete this project to spend time researching other sources to acquire only the springs I needed.

Hope that helps and thanks for the patch!

It does help, thank you. I found the exact springs on and will be going to check price comparisons today -- with shipping costs, I think buying locally may be just as good an option.

Just a follow-up -- pricing for the springs, flat braces, and corner braces was MUCH cheaper with McMaster-Carr than at Home Depot, even with shipping costs. The braces are slightly less at MC, but the springs are a BIG savings with MC versus the 4 pack you buy at HD where 2 are the right size and 2 are a different size... waste of money IMO buying springs at HD unless you can come up with a use for the left-over 2 springs per pack.

Thanks for doing that research JK. And good luck putting together your APC. Remember to be both patient and careful. Also, at times it won't hurt to have another pair of helping hands. A few days ago I built my final version on my own, but it took almost 3 hours and I used a couple large books to help stabilize things at various times during the build. Let me know how it goes!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

You are so correct maxxflow. My final version has three battery-powered "under-cabinet" lights inside and it looks freakin' awesome! Thanks for the inspiration.