How to Build a Glass & Wood Display Case

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You can build a glass and wood display case.
Image Credit: Seng kui Lim/iStock/GettyImages

Things You'll Need

  • 1-inch-thick wood

  • Example: one 1-by-48-by-48-inch board and one 12-by-24-inch board

  • Wood glue

  • Table saw

  • Router

  • Measuring tape

  • Five 9¼-by-9¼-inch glass panels

  • Nails

Creating a display case for collectibles or for your other prized possessions is one way to preserve them as well as dress them up for others to see. These displays can be costly when bought at the store, but with a little time, you can make your own and customize it as you like for a fraction of the price. Then you are not only displaying your items but your woodcraft as well.


Step 1: Sketch Your Display Case for Collectibles

Measure the item(s) you are going to display in your case. Make a sketch of the shape you want your display to be, most commonly a square or rectangle. Allow a couple of extra inches on each side of your items for the inside of the display. For example, a baseball display box could be 9 inches tall by 9 inches wide.


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Step 2: Choose the Wood

Select the wood that will be used for the display. Mark on the wood the dimensions for the base. This will be either a solid square or rectangle, and it should be larger than both the items and inside display area. For the best look, use two pieces, one larger than the other, to build up for the base.


Step 3: Cut the Base Pieces

Use a table saw or jigsaw to cut the base piece to size. For the example, this would be 10 by 10 inches for the first piece of the base and 11 by 11 inches for the second piece, or the bottom of the base

Step 4: Cut the Pieces for the Frame

Measure and cut the pieces for the frame of the display. These should be made out of 1-by-1-inch boards. If the main base is 10 inches, then the frame pieces should be 9 inches in length.


Step 5: Groove the Frame Pieces

Use a router or table saw to cut a groove down the middle of the frame pieces at 1/4 inch deep. This will hold the glass in place.

Step 6: Create the Diagram

Set up the diagram of how the pieces will fit to each other. The inside pieces will need to be routed again 1/4 inch deep, giving them a total of two sides routed to hold the glass.


Step 7: Cut the Outside Edges

Cut the outside edge frame pieces at a 90-degree angle similar to a picture frame. This should be done to six of the eight frame pieces on just one edge.

Step 8: Make the Final Measurements

Remeasure the area inside the frame with all pieces cut to get the final measurement needed for the glass pieces. There are going to be a total of five glass planes. Remember to include the extra 1/4 inch on all sides of the glass to fit into the routed out grooves.


Step 9: Cut the Inside Groove

Use a router to then cut the inside square groove on the smaller base piece.

Step 10: Stain the Wood Pieces

Stain all wood pieces using a cloth or paintbrush and allow to dry. Apply a second coat and allow to dry.



Step 11: Assemble the Bases

Attach the smaller base to the larger base. Apply a thin glaze of wood glue to the bottom of the small base. Then nail or screw from the bottom base up to the top base.

Step 12: Add the Side Pieces

Set up the side pieces of the display. Place the frame pieces up and join them by inserting the glass pieces in place. Once all pieces are matched up, place a small amount of wood glue at the bottom of the frame pieces that will attach to the base.


Step 13: Nail the Bottom Base

Use nails to go through the bottom base up to the frame edges for the four corners. Be sure to not go through the middle where the glass is.

Step 14: Fill the Display Case

Place the display object(s) in the case.

Step 15: Insert the Remaining Glass

Place a small amount of glue on the 90-degree cut angles. Insert the remaining glass pieces.

Step 16: Clamp the Top Edges

Clamp the top edges where the 90-degree cuts are, and allow the wood glue to dry completely. These can be reinforced with nails, but remember the nails will then show.

Step 17: Show Off Your Craftsmanship

Display your new handmade display case for collectibles.


Steps will be the same for any size box you choose to create for your display case for collectibles. Just increase the size of the base and frame pieces before cutting the wood.


Use safety glasses and sturdy work gloves when using all power tools.


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