Display case for Trophy Belt

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Project by JohnMcClure posted 04-17-2017 04:52 PM 2151 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was asked to find a way to display one of those huge trophy belts, like wrestlers get. I was totally free to make all design choices, so I stuck a nail in the wall, hung it, and said “There ya go!”
Not really.

I decided to use my new lock-miter bit and make a glass-front shadowbox. The case is 54”x14”, about 3.5” deep, made from red oak, with 1/4” plate glass sitting in a dado. Front edges have a 1/4” roundover. The backer board is screwed (removable) into a rabbet.

The backer material looks like canvas. What is it? The rough side of HD hardboard, painted white with Kilz primer! I discovered this by accident. I’d never suspected the unfinished side of the panel could ever be seen – it’s hideous! But put white paint on it, and it looks like a loose-weave coarse cloth.

I really like the lock-miter, and while it is tough to set up, it really goes together well – and I think it looks attractive too!

With a lot of trial and error on sample pieces, and mixing up various stain colors, I successfully matched the existing furniture in the office. Afterwards I learned that some of the original stain (from the custom carpentry in the office) was left over in the janitor’s closet… Guess I’ll use it next time.

One drawback of the lock-miter, is that you have to clamp in the long direction.

Last thing:
My favorite part of this project is the lock-mitered corners. But the recipient has no idea… and probably couldn’t care less. But I suppose if I had left end grain showing, and used pocket holes, maybe he wouldn’t have liked it as much. I’ll never know!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

7 comments so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4254 days

#1 posted 04-17-2017 04:59 PM

Nice display. I love lock miters, you did make a setup block for the next time you use that thickness of wood didn’t you? LOL

View Northwest29's profile


1704 posts in 3376 days

#2 posted 04-17-2017 05:06 PM

Very nice and unusual way to do the joinery on a shadow box. Looks good – you did a fine job.

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

View Rich's profile


6000 posts in 1475 days

#3 posted 04-17-2017 05:32 PM

That came out great. I’ll definitely keep the painted hardboard tip in mind.

I have had little luck using setup blocks with my lock miter bit (from Infinity) to get a good joint. I got their setup tool and found it barely got me in the ballpark for a good joint (it sure looked great in the video though). It did show me the key points on the bit for getting a good setup.

What ultimately worked best for me is coming up with formulas based on the thickness of the board for setting the bit height (I measure it at the top of the bit for convenience) and the setback for the fence. I entered these as formulas in my PCalc app on my phone, so I can put in the board thickness and it spits the numbers out in the X and Y registers for the bit height and fence setback. I still make test cuts before milling the final joint, but so far they have been perfect on the first try using this method.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View JohnMcClure's profile


1097 posts in 1526 days

#4 posted 04-17-2017 06:19 PM

Thanks all.
Papadan, I did indeed make setup blocks – at the very last minute, before I had to use the router table for something else! I have yet to see how well the setup blocks work, though.
Rich, your approach sounds like the right one. Next time I do this, I will try to take some measurements and derive a formula. From what reference point are you measuring fence position? Center of bit, or other?

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View pottz's profile


11735 posts in 1870 days

#5 posted 04-17-2017 07:58 PM

nice job.i keep telling myself i need to get one of those bits but just havnt done it,i think nows the time.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Rich's profile


6000 posts in 1475 days

#6 posted 04-17-2017 08:04 PM

Getting a lock miter bit set up is based on the bit’s position relative to the centerline of the edge of the board you are milling — both height and fence setting. It’s easy to figure out a formula from a bit that is set up properly for a particular thickness of board.

Take the thickness of the board, divide by two. Based on the image below, you can measure the height from the table to the top of the bit, and the distance from the fence face to the tip and determine your own values to add to the thickness/2 value for any other board thickness in the range of your bit.

The values here are for my Infinity lock miter bit (in this case, the junior bit I use for small boxes), yours will likely be different. You could measure from any repeatable point on the bit. I chose the points I use because they are the most accessible for my digital height gauge.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Ken90712's profile


17909 posts in 4074 days

#7 posted 04-17-2017 08:58 PM

Well done.

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

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