Military Challenge Coin Display

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Project by PASs posted 06-16-2012 04:20 AM 8998 views 8 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A lady and her husband talked with me at a craft show about finishing a military “Shadow Box” for them.
Her son had made the basic box, but had never finished it.
Due to a misunderstanding about the dimensions of a folded flag the part of the box designed to hold the flag was too small.
They decided to convert it into a coin display and had already purchased some 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch oak strips to insert into the frame.
The basic box was made of soft pine and had a 1/4 inch Plexiglas for the front and 1/2 pine plywood for the back. It was put together with 16 gauge finishing nails.
I was going to use an oak stain for the entire assembly but after getting it into the shop and looking at it I decided to stain the inside of the box with ebony and the oak strips and outside with American Walnut to give a contrast. Since the Plexiglas was captive within the frame I was concerned the stain would affect it. I did a couple of tests on some plexi I had in the shop and the stain didn’t affect it. As the Walnut stain was somewhat darker than the pine I had to flood the groove so the difference in color would not be noticeable.

I cut two groove into each strip (using a biscuit jointer), trimmed the ends to fit into the frame. I also mitered pieces to work around the flag holder.
Since the box was assembled with finishing nails shot in with a nail gun I attached the coin strips with 18 gauge finishing nails.
The lid for the box was too small, and the joints were too loose, to trust hinges so I decided to try something different. I used 1/2 inch diameter rare earth magnets epoxied into the lid and the frame to hold the cover on.
That worked so well I will use in in my own boxes in the future. They held the lid firmly to the frame and in exact alignment. To take the lid off you just put a hand on one side of the frame and push the lid to the side with the other hand. As soon as the lid moves about 1/4 inch the attractive force is small enough to pull the lid away from the box.
I sealed the wood with a couple of coats of 2 pound shellac, and top-coated with quick dry polyurethane.

Each coin strip has two slots, but using just the front slot I was able to put 81 coins in. I recommended to the customer that they stagger the coins front and back with a gap between the front coins. It should hold about 120 coins that way.
And I had a spare flag to play with and found I could actually stuff the folded flag into the holder.
The customer was happy, so that made me happy….and a few bucks richer!
Additional photos are available at:

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

8 comments so far

View nonickswood's profile


560 posts in 2892 days

#1 posted 06-16-2012 10:32 AM

It turned out very Nice! Pete.

-- Nick, Virginia,

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3372 days

#2 posted 06-16-2012 11:36 AM

This is very nice and will be a wonderful conversation piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2712 days

#3 posted 06-16-2012 01:50 PM

Beautiful work! That is impressive the way you were able to pick up someone else’s work and finish it so well! Well done!



-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3309 days

#4 posted 06-16-2012 03:01 PM

This is a very nice shadow box. I like the magnet method for the lid/front. Beautiful!

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

View TomTinkerSum's profile


226 posts in 4340 days

#5 posted 06-16-2012 06:20 PM

Nice job. I’ve been working on a similar case. I love how you incorporated the flag in display case. I would like to use that on a future design. Great post including the story.


-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic.... :)

View sgtq's profile


370 posts in 3181 days

#6 posted 06-18-2012 03:52 AM

Love the magnet idea and finished work, good job!

-- There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton

View AlBCuttnWud's profile


714 posts in 3195 days

#7 posted 06-13-2017 09:50 AM

I have one of these to make and was curious how you mounted this to the wall with it being heavy from the coins.

Hope all is well with the turning these days.


-- -Al, Oak Harbor, WA

View PASs's profile


596 posts in 3603 days

#8 posted 06-24-2017 03:50 PM

Al, did you get my reply sepcor?
I made a modified french cleat.
In the included photograph you can see the curved piece. That is the hanger.
The advantage of the large arc cleat is you can put two mounting screws on center in wall studs and the cleat will reach both screws and the curve allows you to adjust for plumb.
Looking to see if I have better photos.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

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