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Shadow box next to bed full of assorted decorative items.

Overview

A shadow box is a great way to show off decorative items and bring a little colour and personality to your bedroom. We'll show you everything that you need to make this simple project, including a few tips on how to give it a professional finish.

Steps

1Cut the timber to length

To start, you'll need to work out the dimensions of your shadow box. We made our four sides 450mm x 290mm. Mark this out on the timber and use the mitre saw to cut both ends at a 45° angle. Repeat this for the three other sides of the shadow box.

Person using circular saw to cut up timber.

2Fix the shadow box together

Apply PVA wood glue to the mitred edges of the timber. Join the four pieces of timber together to make the box shape. A good tip is to use masking tape to hold the box together and keep the edges flush. Then use a nail gun to secure the pieces of timber together. Make sure you use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess glue.

Person taping up edges of shadow box frame.

3Check if the shadow box is square

To make sure the box is square, use a tape measure to measure the distance between the diagonally opposed corners. The box is square if the distances are the same. If not, you can make some minor adjustments to square it up.

Person measuring DIY shadow box frame corner-to-corner with measuring tape.

4Cut the top fixing rail

Place the piece of 42mm x 19mm timber for the top fixing rail at the back of the shadow box so it's flush with one side. Mark on the other side of the timber where it needs to be cut, then use the drop saw to cut it to length. We cut our timber to 412mm.

Person marking up timber with pencil.

5Attach the top fixing rail

Apply wood glue to the top and sides of the top fixing rail and press it into place. Use tape to secure it and make sure it's flush with the edges of the shadow box. Then use the nail gun to secure the rail to the box.

Person putting glue on piece of wood.

6Cut the bottom fixing rail

Measure the length of the bottom fixing rail so that it's the width of the shadow box, in our case it was 412mm again. Cut the rail to length. You might want to mitre the ends of the rail to 30° so that it isn't visible.

Person marking up a piece of timber with pencil.

7Attach the bottom fixing rail

To attach the bottom rail, apply glue to the top of the fixing rail and put it in place against the shadow box. You'll need to clamp the rail to the box to make sure it's flush with the edges. Use the nail gun to secure the rail to the shadow box and wipe away any excess glue.

Person using nail gun to join up pieces of shadow box frame together.

8Putty up any holes and gaps

Use a putty knife to apply putty to the nail holes and gaps between the timber joints. Let the putty dry and give it a sand so it's smooth. Then give the shadow box a light sand for the best possible finish.

Person filling holes with timber filler and scraper.

9Stain or paint the shadow box

Depending on the look you want for your bedroom, you can stain or paint the shadow box to suit. If you're applying a stain, to give it a more professional look, wait for the first coat to dry, lightly sand it and then apply a second coat.
Person painting timber with paint brush and varnish.

10Fix the shadow box to the wall

After deciding where you want your shadow box to go, have someone hold the box in place while you use the drill and screws to secure it to the wall. Use a spirit level to make sure the box is square before properly securing it through the top and bottom fixing rails. If you're not attaching the shadow box to studs, use hollow wall anchors to fix it in place.

Person attaching shadow box frame to wall with a drill.

11Style your shadow box

Now you're ready to style your box with your favourite ornaments. 

Shadow box next to bed full of assorted decorative items.

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.