Military medals Display Case

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Project by Heath posted 04-07-2010 09:19 PM 3966 views 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My dad is a Vietnam veteran who never misses an opportunity to let other soldiers know they are appreciated. I wanted to return that and let him know that he and his service was appreciated. His medals were never cared for or displayed properly so I wanted to fix that.

I wanted to do a Greene & Greene project and I was inspired by a “Wood Whisperer” viewer project – the Greene & Greene style display case for the Bible.

I’m a very novice woodworker without many tools or resources for project wood and always on a tight budget. I couldn’t afford to order good wood for this. But I had been given a stack of pallets so that’s what I used. I believe they are oak.

At the time I made this, I had a jointer but not a planer. So after removal of nails and very thorough inspection for any other foreign materials, I dimensioned them using my Craftsman table saw, Shopsmith 10ER, and the jointer.

I used a dado blade and a hand chisel to make the joints. It took a few practice pieces to get the process down. I then used my dado blade to cut a rabbet on the back of the pieces for the back panel, and a saw kerf to hold the Plexiglas front and marked the location of the pegs.

The square pegs intimidated me at first, but turned out to not be a problem. Since I can’t afford ebony, I made them out of a scrap piece of oak and used ebony stain. I cut a rabbet with the dado blade set to about 1/2” wide and the height set so that the material remaining was 5/16” thick. I then ripped off a 5/16” square strip. With my miter saw set to 15 degrees and using a stop block for consistency, I cut all four sides of the end forming a pyramid. Then I used a fine toothed hand saw and miter box to cut the end off about 1/8”.

To make the 5/16” square holes in the boards, I used a 9/32” bit to drill a hole, then squared it with a ¼” hand chisel. Then just tap the pegs into place with a piece of soft wood and light taps with a hammer.

Using the disc sander on the Shopsmith with the table set to 15 degrees, I created the pyramid shape on the end of the fingers.

This was followed by some final sanding and a couple coats of “natural” Watco Danish oil. It dries fast and gave just the type of finish I wanted – it brings out the grain and gives good protection with a slight sheen and it still feels like wood, not plastic.

While the case was clamped and glued, I put the inside display together using foam board and spray adhesive where necessary. After everything was dry, I attached it and the plywood back.

I see all the little flaws and blemishes, but, I must say I’m still pretty darn proud of it.

My goal with this was to make something nice for my dad to show that his military service was appreciated and to challenge my very novice woodworking skills. I think I accomplished both goals. I made a couple mistakes along the way but having watched The Wood Whisperer make and fix mistakes I was able to fix them which boosted my confidence.

My dad absolutely loved it, so I guess my mission was accomplished.

Update: After several years, Dad finally got an updated set of ribbons and medals from the USMC. I updated the box with the new awards. New picture added.

-- "I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso

3 comments so far

View jm82435's profile


1286 posts in 4824 days

#1 posted 04-07-2010 10:42 PM

Great job. A well deserved tribute that was long overdue. Thanks for building this for a veteran and thanks for sharing it with us.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Ken90712's profile


17996 posts in 4270 days

#2 posted 04-08-2010 10:12 AM

Nice and the best to your family from one Vet to another!!!!!

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

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4314 days

#3 posted 03-04-2014 08:52 PM

Just wow…

Flaws and blemishes where? You are aware that Greene and Greene is supposed to have “character” right?

I finally have my workshop into a usable state, and I have been wanting to do a long put off build of a shadow / display box for my wife’s wedding bouquet / accessories (garter, hair pins etc…).

I WAS going to do this with dovetails and some walnut I picked up next to free on Craigslist years ago, but I think you might have just changed the design and choice of materials for me!

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