Phil's Practical - Build a simple display case

10 June 2020
Don't hide all your model locomotives in a cupboard. We show you how to build a simple display case.

This deep box frame from a craft superstore is designed for collectors who wish to show off shells or other memorabilia. It's 40cm square and 24mm deep so you might squeeze N gauge stock inside but it's too shallow for anything else.

Taking the case apart, we find a frame, sheet of glass, inner frame and hardboard backing sheet. The inner frame can be discarded but we'll use everything else.

Holding everything together are these bendable metal tags. Since they just get in the way, a pair of pliers is used to pull them out of the wood.

Using lengths of strip wood 5mm thick and 70mm wide, a new inner frame is made up. This stuff can be cut with a sharp knife if required, although a mitre saw makes life easier. The parts are pinned and glued together. For extra support, short lengths of angled wood are glued under the ends and middle of the shelves. You could leave the inside natural colours but I'm finishing it off with three coats of white emulsion.

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While the supplied hanger might be strong enough for a frame containing a football shirt, I wouldn't trust it with my locomotives, especially considering how easily it pulled off the back. I'll hang the box by putting a couple of screws through the back into the wall.

The front frame slides over the inner box and is retained with a screw in each side. This allows the front to be released, while leaving the box containing the exhibits still fixed to the wall.

As it stands, the case looks pretty good, but here's a couple of ideas for enhancing it further.

Instead of painting the inside white, what about fitting mirrored card from an art shop on the back wall so you can see both sides of the model?

Adding lights isn't hard. Self-adhesive strips of LEDs are available from several model railway suppliers and can be powered by a mains 12V supply or even a 9V battery.