How to Arrange Army Medals in a Shadow Box

Medals can be kept safe while still on display in your home.
Medals can be kept safe while still on display in your home. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Receiving medals from the military is an honor. Each medal has a special meaning for the recipient and should be displayed. Medals vary in size, shape and color, which can make it difficult to organize them in a shadow box frame. Arranging these medals using rank, date or shape can help make it both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful to anyone who views them. The benefit of placing these medals in shadow boxes is that you can add photos, documents and even pieces of the army uniform, depending on the depth.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Silicone-based glue or hook and loop fasteners

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Rank or Date

Cut out a piece of paper in the same size as the shadow box. This will give you a template to plan the arrangement. Rank and date include medals given beyond rank, such as honorary and special awards.

Arrange the medals in straight columns and rows, in order of level. The space between each should be at least 1 inch, but is best judged by the size of the shadow box. The medals should be placed evenly in the shadow box, with either equal or more space on the top and sides.

Attach the medals to the shadow box. This can be done easily if there are pins on the back of the medal, but if there is no way to adhere it, use silicone-based glue or hook and loop fasteners.


Cut out the template to plan the arrangement. Medals that are odd shapes can be scattered around the shadow box, almost in an unorganized manner.

Organize the medals. The odd shapes can also be organized by having a bigger or more important medal in the center, with smaller, less important medals arranged in a circle, square or rectangle in the box.

Attach the medals with silicone glue or hook and loop fasteners.

Photos and Documents

Use a template to arrange the medals around the photo or document, which can be placed in the center top, middle or bottom. If there are multiple pictures, place them symmetrically, mixed with the medals.

Attach the photos and medals to the backboard of the shadow box.

Add a framing mat for a clean look. A mat can be cut with openings for the pictures, allowing them to fit behind, without needing adhesive. Mats can be professionally cut with a bevel for you at a framing store. Materials found at an arts and crafts store can also be bought so you can cut the mat yourself.

3-D Items

Consider adding 3-D items, such as hats and clothes, with a professional framer. Even if you decide to do it yourself, the professional will be able to explain the best way to arrange everything, how to adhere it and the depth of shadow box needed.

Use the paper template to plan the shadow box. Remember that it will be sitting upright and plan the 3-D objects accordingly.

Arrange the medals with 3-D items. In this style, medals are often grouped together by date or shape.


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