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Shadow boxes hanging on wall.

Overview

An easy way to add dimension to a bare wall is with a shadow box. They look fantastic, let you put your favourite items on display and you'll be amazed at just how easy they are to make.

Steps

1Cut the plywood

You can make whatever size shadow boxes you like to suit your wall but to make the job easier get your plywood cut at your local Bunnings Warehouse to these sizes: 

Back boxes x 3 (these will be fixed to the wall):
- 250mm x 150mm x 2
- 300mm x 150mm x 2
- 350mm x 150mm x 4
- 420mm x 150mm x 2
- 450mm x 150mm x 2

Back boards (these will be fixed to the back boxes):
- 450mm x 385mm x 1
- 420mm x 335mm x 1
- 350mm x 285mm x 1

Front boxes x 2 (these will be cut into the back boxes):
- 250mm x 100mm x 2
- 350mm x 100mm x 4
- 450mm x 100mm x 2

Tools and materials listed in Tools and Materials section

2Set out the frame

To make the first box take your two 300mm lengths and two 420mm lengths of plywood and form them into a rectangle. Apply PVA glue to the edges of the plywood. Make sure the edges are flush and use the nail gun to join the four pieces together. Wipe off any excess glue with a cloth.
Person using nail gun to nail piece of timber together

3Attach the back to the box

Because this box is going to be attached to the wall it needs a back. Apply PVA glue around the edges of the box. Place the 420mm x 335mm piece of plywood on top of the box. Make sure the edges are flush. Use the nail gun to secure the back to the box. Wipe away any excess glue.

Person lining up pieces of timber to glue and then nail together

4Make the second box

Take two of the 250mm lengths of plywood and two of the 350mm lengths and assemble them into a rectangle shape. Apply glue to the edges. Use the nail gun to join the four pieces together. Wipe off any excess glue with a cloth.

Person assembling pieces of timber into rectangle

5Mark the slits in the first box

To give the shadow box the 3D effect you need to cut slits in the first box to slide in the second. You can make the slits as deep as you want. To do this place the second box on top of the first, at the place where you want it to be. Mark on the edge of the first box where the second box sits. Use the square to mark how deep you want the cuts to be.

Person marking cuts to be made with pencil

6Cut out the slits

Put on your safety equipment. Set your jigsaw to 50mm and cut out the slits. Then use a hammer and chisel to clean up the edges and make them square.

Person using jigsaw to cut slits in timber

7Putty and sand the boxes

Use the putty knife to fill any holes in the boxes where the nails are. Wait for the putty to dry and use the sander to make the surfaces smooth. You can repeat the above steps to make as many shadow boxes as you want.

Person filling holes in timber with putty

8Paint the boxes

Paint your boxes to suit your décor. We painted our sections in Jimbaran Bay and Casper White. The rear of the solid backed box was painted in Bel Esprit. The outside frame was finished in clear varnish.
Person painting timber box with blue paint

9Hang the shadow boxes

After the paint has dried, slide the boxes together, mount them on the wall and put your favourite objects on display.
Shadow boxes hanging on wall.

Suggested products

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.