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Making a military shadow box

Designed and created by Chris Siler, DIY with Chris

Difficulty- Medium Time- Approximately one week

Parts- See list at end Tools- See list at end


First, decide what to put in the box in order to adjust measurements. This project will be based off of a shadowbox designed to hold an AK-47. Find the dimensions of the box based off of contents. The total dimensions are 48” x 23 ¾” x 6” (length x width x depth). Draft your project for placement of items. Determine supply list.

The start:

Cut pieces to proper lengths. Cut the boards so that the sides set inside the top and bottom. This way the lid can open without having to add a handle or bevel. Cut the backing to the box using 1/8” wood as a light but durable backdrop. After each piece is cut, sand each of them until edges are smooth. Once each piece is cut, apply finish to each piece before assembly. The finish used for this project is Olympic Canyon Brown.


After each piece is cut, sanded, and finished, began to cut the dados for the glass to be installed in the front of the box. Cut the dados on both of the side pieces as well as the bottom. For the cuts, you can use the Rockwell Versacut cutting strips from the top to about ¼” from the bottom on side pieces. I did the same on the bottom but left about ¼” on each end that did not have the dado cut into it. This is so the dado cuts won’t be visible from the outside.

Once the dado cuts are finished, assembly of the shadow box is possible. For this task, the Blue Hawk sawhorses that I had purchased were of extreme help. Begin assembly by nailing the side pieces to the bottom. A 2-in-1 nail and staple gun is a great tool for this part. In order to ensure that the box is put together correctly, use a square. After the sides are fastened to the bottom, secure the backing to them using finishing nails.

Flag frames:

After the box is assembled, begin to make the flag frames. Use wood trim 48” x 1” x 1/8” (Length x width x depth). Cut the trim at 45 degree angles at the end of each piece, then install the gun supports to each of the flag frames. Supports will not be centered within

the flag frame due to the weapon sitting on

top of the hooks. Measure the weapon and adjust accordingly. With the extra corner pieces cut from the 45 degree angles of each end of the trim, they may be used them to act as supports for the rifle supports on the flag frames.

Once the frames are put together, use push tacks to apply each flag to both frames. The excess material should tucked behind the frame and tacked on the inside. Once the frames are completed and the flags tacked on, use small ¼” screws and secure them to the backing of the box.

Finishing touches:

After the flag frames are attached to the box, add the rifle hooks. Following this, place uniform or other backdrop between the rifle supports. Secure it down using screws then secure it to the flag frames.

At this time cut the Plexiglas to size at either with a knife or at a local hardware store. After this, install light strips and a remote battery operated dimmer. Mount the lights and box to the lid along with the lights. The box is about 1” in width and would show under the lid. Due to this I added a trim to the lid using the same boards I used to make the flag frame. I used the same 45 angle cuts leftover from the flag pieces to support the trim. Due to the addition of the trim and supports cut additional slits in the Plexiglas. Install the dimmer box using a few small screws. The lights have an adhesive on the back.




Uniform top

American flag

Iraq flag



Sides – 2



Lid trim


Wood slates for flag frame – 8

Wood slates for rifle hooks – 2



LED light strip-2

Battery box

Remote with dimmer or manual dimmer

Nails for backing

Screws for flag frame

Wood glue

Push tacks


Brushes (foam/regular)

Versacut for dado cuts

Miter saw (Review)

Drill (Review)


Sander (Review)

Pneumatic Nail/staple gun



Plexiglas cutter




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