Miniature Shadowbox




I like small shadowboxes and dioramas. This is a small shadowbox I build in a short period of time.

Shadowboxes are great for keeping memories, collectables, or miniatures. I personally like to create miniature memories with them. This one happens to have a small, dead frog in it. You can read about it on my blog: Ossa Piscium .

Step 1: Materials, Tools, Etc...

The first thing you need to do is gather the matrials and tools. I won't go into great detail here. The is the standand "what you need..." step.

Paint mixing sticks (thin, about 1/16" thick)
Plexi-glass (also about 1/16" thick)
wood glue
masking tape

small razor saw
blah, blah, blah...

Step 2: Cut the Wood Pieces

I cut 5 (five) pieces of wood.

2 @ 1 5/8" x 5/8"
2 @ 7/8" x 5/8"
1 @ 1 5/8" x 1"

This is all based on the fact that the wood is 1/16" thick and will piece together to form an open top box.

The dime is for comparason.

Step 3: Tape It Up

Next you need to tape the sides together into a strip. This helps for holding it together and alligning it when you glue.

Cut small pieces of tape to hold the sides together.

The short sides butt up to the long sides as shown in the picture. This isn't rocket science. This helps to allign it while you glue.

Step 4: Glue the Sides and Back

Now use some wood glue and a coffee stir stick to apply small amounts of glue to the butt joins of the sides. Once glued, tape it together to hold it together.

Next apply glue to the back edges of the box (check the fit first). If it is a bit large, that's okay. Glue it down and tape to hold until it all dries.

Step 5: Clean Up Drips and Let Dry...

Clean up the inside edges and let it dry with the tape on. Make sure it look fairly square and proper before it can't be adjusted anymore.

Step 6: Sand It Up

Remove the tape after it dries. Use some sandpaper to clean up the sides. Take your time on this or you'll have sloppy joints.

Step 7: Cut the Widow

Now you just need to cut a piece of plexi-glass to fit the top of the box. I like to use a draw knife and snap the cut. Acrylic smalls bad and cutting it with a saw, hand or otherwise, is nasty. Scribe the lines on the plexi and snap it apart. It is a bit like cutting glass, but with plexi you need to draw the knife a few times on each side. Snap it with your fingers (careful) or on the edge of a table top.

Try to make the cut size close to the size you need, but just a bit larger. Sand down the edges with sandpaper or a file to make a tight fit on the box.

Step 8: Fill the Box and Glue in the Window

The final step is to mount whatever you want in it and press the window in. I decided to line the box with some self-adhesive green felt available from the hardware store. If the fit of the plexi is too tight you will pop the glue joints on the corners of the box, so use caution. Use a bit of epoxy to seal the window.

There are a lot of things you could do with this box to customize it. Put a ring on it for a keyring or necklace, make a small scene in it, whatever. Staining or painting wood would be good, even put a crackle finish on it. I'd like to add a small led light or something, maybe. Heck, put wheels on it for all I care. I'd love to see any pictures of anything someone makes based on this.



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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A few years ago a customer in the antique store where I work told me that she went to yard sales and thrift stores and bought picture frames and then cut them down to make miniature frames and shadowboxes. This could be a more decorative alternative to the paint mixing sticks. A regular 8x10 frame could probably be cut down into 3 or 4 mini frames or shadowboxes.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I'd never heard the phrase "shadow box" until I saw your your Instructable. Googling around a bit I see it's a general term for a flat display case and I was a bit disappointed. "Shadow box" conjures up a more mysterious, 'lost world' type image to me.
    However, your frog in a box (and the coin) do just that.  Strange objects which have an unknown (to the observer) story behind them.  They have a sense of mystery and ethereality about them.  A small slice of someone else's memory which you can see but not touch.
    It's my wife's birthday today.  We were out walking and I found a large, white snail shell of the type the Romans brought over to Britain.  It would be ideal for a shadow box.  I think I'm going to have to make one.

    1 reply

    Because a live one would be sick and wrong. ;-)

    No, really, because I found this one many years ago and it just holds memories for me. That's all.


    I actually think its pretty awesome how you decided to choose that. Im not sure what im gonna do. I think a beetle might look cool.