Navy Retirement Shadow Box and Chest

Introduction: Navy Retirement Shadow Box and Chest

This project was inspired by Tommy McDonald.

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Step 1: Design

I have a friend who was retiring from the Navy after 25 years of service as a Gunner's Mate Chief Petty Officer. He wanted to make a shadow box and a chest to hold some of his uniforms. memorabilia and history in the Navy. We discussed the building of two boxes and then made the decision to build a chest with the shadow box as the lid. The detailed design was drawn in Sketchup.

Step 2: Construction Details

After the design was finalized, My friend wanted to use materials that had meaning to him, he lived in a home that was built in the early 1920's and he had recently remodeled a portion of the house and had some walnut and cottonwood that was salvaged from the remodel. (the dark wood is walnut and the lighter wood is cottonwood locally milled in the 1920's). The engraving was routed on a cnc desktop router and the lettering was painted silver on the walnut and black on the cottonwood. The frame work is doweled for strength. The panels float in a dado (slot) in the frames. The lids are hinged on wooden hinges with a steel rod pivot.

Step 3: Cedar Lining and Special Features

The bottom of the chest is lined with aromatic cedar for insect repellent. (left over material from the remodel) Note the handles, they are cleats from a target vessel that was used as target practice, before sinking. The lid restraint chains are from a parachute flare. The practice (chalk marking rounds) 40 mm shells holding the flag are spent brass with a plastic nose cone.

Step 4: Display of Challenge Coins and Certificates

Display of challenge coins and certificates are a two sided frame so that both front and back of the coins can be observe. There are 16 frames and are held at the top of the chest on a rail. The frames are 3/8 plywood with a glass on top and bottom (coins are mounted in through holes), the walnut frames are three pieces screwed together so the frames can be taken apart. The frames capture the glass and plywood. One frame is a key/index that describes the metals, ribbons, challenge coins, and insignias so that his decedents will know the significance of the items.

Step 5: Arranging Display

The display boards have blue fabric glued on and the items are attached with glue or screws. He did not receive his ceremonial sword until he retired, so a wooden model was used to locate the items.

Step 6: Finished Chest/Shadow Box

The completed display has about 300 man hours in the construction. The cross cannon on the top front corners are hiding a mistake, the depth stop on the dowel jig came loose and a hole was drilled completely through the leg, so to cover the hole the cross cannon (gunner's mate insignia) were added.

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is a Fantastic way to remember this mans past, present, and continued service to our country. This box is of museum quality in my humble opinion. I hope your family appreciates it as much as it deserves. Not only for the beautiful craftsmanship but also for the many years of memories and exemplary service to our country it contains. Thank you for sharing!!!


    3 years ago

    He may get a call back some day, you never know. When the battleship New Jersey was recommissioned for sea duty in Vietnam in '68, the Navy made some very handsome financial inducements to get qualified turret (technically called a gunhouse) captains to come back for training purposes since nobody on active duty at the time had any experience with the 16- inchers. The Navy thought it was gonna be a missile war years before and never schooled their gunnys on the big stuff. Their favorite visual image: take a Volkswagon and throw it 20 miles away, that's what a 16 could do.

    A great save BTW, making the guns a foil for the mishap- "it's a feature, not a defect." ☺