Custom Shadow Box

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Project by WistysWoodWorkingWonders posted 12-25-2014 06:53 AM 4039 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was commissioned to build this shadow box by the husband of a friend who retired in 2010. He wanted it as a gift for Christmas this year and it was to be a surprise for his wife.
After meeting over lunch, we came up with the concept pictured above. One of the more challenging aspects was the addition of coins into the shadow box. I came up with the plan that they should be able to rotate to view both sides of the coin vice just gluing them inside the box.
It took some time, some very careful measuring, and tons of cutting circles on the drill press, but I finally came up with a workable solution to include the coins and present them in a great fashion, allowing people to see both sides of the coin simply by rotating the coin in its holder.

About the shadow box – I used mostly walnut in the build, with the addition of a small amount of maple in the coin holders. The box itself was constructed very similar to the Al Walker retirement shadow box I posted earlier in my projects. The main difference was the coin holders. These were cut using various sized hole saw bits on my drill press – some very careful measuring, cutting, and sanding, followed by even more careful and precise drilling, ended up with some pretty cool coin holders.
I used 1/8” metal rod cut into short lengths to use as pivot points so the coins could be rotated.

This project certainly challenged some of my woodworking skills as well as my patience – not sure how many of you have spent 4 hours drilling holes, but let me say, it was all worth it in the end. I think the shadow box turned out great and truly reflects appreciation for Darlene and her career in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The box measures approx 32” wide by just over 23” high and took approx 82 hours to complete (although this included a total of 6 shadow boxes)

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

12 comments so far

View Northwest29's profile


1721 posts in 3982 days

#1 posted 12-25-2014 09:27 AM

That is a great design and the ability to view both sides of a coin without having to mount two coins separately is really a great idea. His wife is bound to be pleased. Well done!

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View Gianni's profile


232 posts in 3466 days

#2 posted 12-25-2014 12:06 PM

Love the coin holders. This got me wondering about how canadians fold their flag, too.

Nice work!

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4296 days

#3 posted 12-25-2014 02:13 PM

Wow! That’s a super nice build.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Ken90712's profile


18123 posts in 4681 days

#4 posted 12-25-2014 02:50 PM

Love it, I will have to use the coin idea. Blondie has a few really nice two sided coins from Homeland Security that would look great with this type of display. Congrats to your friends retirement and great work.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View AlBCuttnWud's profile


747 posts in 4182 days

#5 posted 12-25-2014 03:24 PM

Excellent job. I agree on spending a lot of time on the small details in that it is all worth it when you get to the finish line. I know your friend will be excited to receive it.

-- -Al, Jacksonville, FL

View mikethetermite's profile


602 posts in 4758 days

#6 posted 12-25-2014 04:13 PM

This is the best shadow box design I have ever seen. The coin idea is a really great way to display the two sided coins. Walnut always looks good.
Another great job Steve.

Thanks for sharing.

Michael A. Ragan US Navy Retired

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12854 posts in 4649 days

#7 posted 12-25-2014 11:18 PM

Hi Folks,
Thank you all for the pleasant comments. This was certainly a fun, but challenging build and I am sure Darlene was very happy to receive this from her husband this morning.

Gianni – the flag is not folded per the typical standard – I usually cut out a piece of poster board to the size of the triangular opening, then I center the flag so the points of the maple leaf are showing. Then the rest of the flag gets folded back on itself as best I can to make it all fit into the shadow box. I find this looks the best for the presentational value.

Merry Christmas to all :)


-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

524 posts in 4622 days

#8 posted 12-25-2014 11:56 PM

Awesome box great job.

-- Dale, Ohio

View DartheStar's profile


1 post in 2736 days

#9 posted 12-29-2014 07:05 PM


Thanks so much for the Shadow Box it is the Nicest one I have seen, your workmanship is amazing.
Once again thanks!!

View Tim_CPWD 's profile


421 posts in 2737 days

#10 posted 01-01-2015 10:13 AM

The ability to see both sides of the coins and the way you incorporated it into the overall design was great.
Very nice!

-- Tim Haenisch, San Diego Ca.

View tomb8's profile


81 posts in 1727 days

#11 posted 10-07-2017 10:32 PM

First of all Thank You for Your Service. This is a really nice design and execution. Are the commeration And Service panels etched glass?The Coin holders are outstanding. I understand the hours at the drill press I built Victorian mill work for a while and spindle runs on porches could be demanding. 60 – 70’ @ 4 – 6” on center for top & bottom rails.

-- TomB

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12854 posts in 4649 days

#12 posted 10-07-2017 10:38 PM

Hi Tom,
Thanks for your comments, support and feedback.
The panels are engraved in black brass and mounted behind glass panels.
Good to see someone out there understands the pain and monotony of long hours at one machine!

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

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