How to Build a Plexiglass Box

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Plexiglass is weather and shatter resistant, making it ideal for a memorabilia box.
Plexiglass is weather and shatter resistant, making it ideal for a memorabilia box. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Create a display box on a budget with plexiglass. Unlike traditional glass, which can break and create sharp shards when dropped, plexiglass is designed to be shatter resistant. It is composed of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and regularly used for interior door window panes, display cases and solar panels because of its light weight and weather resistant properties. A homemade plexiglass box provides a secure way to protect memorabilia, display awards or protect other valuables.

Supplies

To build a plexiglass box, a thin sheet of plexiglass, a hinge kit, acrylic glue, clamps and a drill are needed. The size of the plexiglass sheet depends on the size of the box being created. Plexiglass is easy to cut to fit any specific size box. For example, if the plans are to build a plexiglass memorabilia box for an autographed baseball, you will need six pieces of plexiglass each measuring 5-by-5 inches. To determine the size of the plexiglass sheet needed for your project, multiply the numbers of inches for the length and width of one side of the box (5 inches 5 inches = 25 square inches). Next, multiply the total by the number of sides (25 square inches 6 sides = 150 square inches). To convert square inches to square feet, divide the total by 144 (150 / 144 = 1.04 square feet). The result is the square footage of plexiglass that is necessary for the project.

Drilling Plexiglass

Plexiglass will crack if it is not drilled properly. When building a display case that will open, it is necessary to drill holes for the hinge screws. To avoid cracking, use a plexiglass drill bit designed with a 60-degree tip to better function on hard plastics. Lubricate the drill bit with mineral oil to help it smoothly drill.

Constructing the Box

During the cutting process of creating a plexiglass box some unevenness of the sides will be created. The slight waves from the scissors or saw used to cut the material will not create a smooth-fitting seal for the box. Use a belt sander with fine-grit sandpaper to slowly smooth the edges flat. Once all edges are flat, apply acrylic glue to one edge of a square and attach another square. Clamp each corner together to prevent movement while the box dries. Repeat this on all of the sides to complete the plexiglass box.

Decorating

Add a personal touch to a plexiglass box by etching a team logo, date, special quote or other sentimental marking onto the plastic. Print out a stencil paper image of the words or picture you would like, and tape it to the side of the box you wish to etch. Carefully follow the lines using a cordless hand dremel tool and employing a downward motion. When finished etching, remove the paper image and wipe the surface with rubbing alcohol to remove any dust or debris.

References

  • Wordnet: Plexiglass Definition
  • "Plexi Class: Cutting-Edge Projects in Plastic"; Tonia Davenport; 2008
  • "Acrylic Revolution: New Tricks and Techniques for Working with the World's Most Versatile Medium"; Nancy Reyner; 2007
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