DIY Collectable Display Box



Introduction: DIY Collectable Display Box

About: I am a Mechanical Engineer who loves to design and build things. I'm always working on new and fun projects.

Do you have a nice collectable that you'd like to display nicely with your collection?

Well here is a step by step guide to help you to make a display box that really showcases your collectable.

I have chosen to make the display box for the re-released (2013) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers power morpher, but this instructable can be applied to any collectable.

Let's get started! :)

Step 1: Pick Your Materials

There are a few choices you are going to have to make to get the most out of your display.

1. The box

- You can pick one that is pre-painted, or unfinished wood.

- Make sure your item will fit into the box properly with a bit of room.

These can be found at most craft stores, and sometimes dollar stores.

2. Insert Material

- Pick up some foam sheets, make sure they are the thick kind (1/4" thick) also make sure you buy enough to stack them up to the height of the inside of the box. (ex. If box inside is 1" high, leave about 1/4" space on top, and get (3/4")/(1/4") = 3 pieces)

3. Insert Cover material

I've used felt and satin material to use for covering the insert, I will follow a process to use satin as the material requires a bit more care.

4. Other Materials/ Tools needed

- Wood Stain (If you will be staining, pick a nice colour you like)

- Brushes

- Polyurethane

- Elmers Glue All

- Eye-Hooks (screw on one end, eye loop on other end

- Metal chain to hold the lid open

- Exacto Knife

- Screw Drivers

- Staining Rag

- Rubber Gloves

- Stir Sticks (Coffee mixing sticks)

- Sandpaper (waterproof high grit)

- Sewing pins

Step 2: Staining Your Wooden Box

If you are using a pre-painted or finished box, skip to Step 4

- Start by removing all the metal hinges and clasps from the box so that you are left with just a wooden box.

- Set yourself up with your stain, gloves, rags, stir sticks, and box on newspaper so you don't make a mess on your tables or where ever you decide to stain.

Make sure the stain is well stirred before applying, do not shake the can.

- Stain the Inside of the box first.

- Wearing rubber gloves, brush the stain into the wood in the direction of the grains, depending on how dark you want the stain, coat it liberally and let sit for 15 minutes. Then wipe the excess stain off with the cloth. The wood should not be wet after, maybe a light damp feeling, but that's all.

Step 3: Clearcoating Your Stained Box

You can either apply the clearcoat by using a paintbrush and can, or by spray can.

Make sure to do some wet sanding in between each clearcoat, it makes them shine better.

- Get a high grit waterproof sandpaper. using a squirt bottle, squirt water on the box surface, and the sandpaper and rub the surfaces gently together; Enough not to scrape off the clearcoat, but hard enough to rough it up a bit. Dry the box after sanding with cloth before clearcoating again. Be sure no cloth fibres make it onto the box as you will seal them in with the next clearcoat if not careful.

Guidelines for clearcoating with a spray polyurethane:

-Put down a plastic drop sheet before spraying, do not reuse after spraying, cut a new piece.

-Spray from each side, the top will end up with the most coverage, be sure to cover the front and back additionally.

-Spray one side (inside/outside) then let dry on a clean piece of drop sheet

-Re-spray only after 3 - 4 hours, or after 72 hours. (This means do as much of your coating in 1 session then let sit for 3 days)

Guidelines for clearcoating with a can polyurethane:

- Wearing rubber gloves, apply the polyurethane with a brush evenly until the enitre surface is covered. let sit on a cardboard surface for min 4 hours, then wet sand and apply a new coat until desired finish is reached.

Step 4: Creating the Box Insert for Your Collectable

- Start by measuring out the inside dimensions of your box, and cut enough foam pieces to stack them on top of each other to fill most of the inside on the box, using an exacto knife.

- I made a stencil for my morpher, you can just trace an outline of the item onto the foam piece, then cut out the shape with an exacto knife.


You will need to cut a void in enough pieces to allow your item to sink far enough into the box to be held nicely, approx 1/4" less than the height, except for items like coins that you might want to be snug and fully recessed.

- Continue to trace and cut the pattern from the foam pieces as needed.

- Time to glue them together, starting at the bottom, apply Elmers glue all to the backside of the next foam piece as shown in the picture, then spread the glue out using a q-tip. carefully line up the pieces and press the glue side down onto the bottom piece. I place the sheets into the box so everything lines up perfectly.

- Continue to glue the various layers till you have glued them all in place, let sit overnight to dry.

- Pry the insert out of the box using a knife edge or ruler alternating sides.

Step 5: Covering Your Box Insert With Presentation Material

Time to make the insert look really nice.

For this section satin is used, substitute for whichever material you prefer.

- Spread your covering material out over the insert and place your items into the insert to see where the material will bunch up and stretch, remove the items and reposition as necessary.

- With the items in place, use sewing pins to hold the covering material in place around the spaces that the items will be held, then remove your items from the insert.

- Remove half the pins on any large spaces and pull back the covering material. Apply glue all and spread with a Q-Tip to the lowest point as shown in the photo.

- Reposition the material and re insert the pins.

Satin will develop dark spots where glue is applied, so we don't want to glue the covering where it will be seen.

- With the material pinned at the edges of the insert, cut the covering material along and up to the edge of the insert. Repeat for all 4 corners, you should have flaps on each side.

- Apply glue to the side of the insert and a small area on the bottom, and push the cover material against the insert, pin at the botom across the length.

- Repeat for all 4 sides After the glue dries, you can remove all pins, you can leave a pin in each corner of the bottom to make sure it stays in shape it you'd like, but make sure the sharp end doesn't exit the foam anywhere.

Step 6: Final Touches

- Install an Eye-Screw (wood screw bottom, and eye hook top) on the lid and base approx 1" to 1-1/2" from the hinge space as shown.

- Adjust you chain to an appropriate length to hold the box mostly open and install it in place.

- Add some flair to the lid of the box, I have included an image I designed for my morpher box along with a stencil.

- Cut the design out from fancy paper and glue the pattern in place with glue all.

- Place the insert back in the box and put you collectables inside and you are finished! :)

Step 7: Examples of Custom Display Boxes

Here are some examples of other display boxes that I've made using the same method, but for different objects.

The inserts can be custom tailored to whatever you are trying to display.

Be creative, and have fun! :)

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