How to Make an Acrylic Shadow Box

Display your favorite art or cherished family mementos in a custom shadow box. Follow along with our instructions to create a contemporary photo display.

Frame your favorite keepsakes in a modern shadowbox with this easy DIY project.

Add some variation to your gallery wall or make a favorite keepsake pop with an acrylic floating shadow box. Large enough to hold faux flowers or a treasured first dance recital costume, this shadow box puts all the attention on what's inside. Follow along with our easy steps to see how to make your own shadow box that can be made as big or as small as your display item. You'll be surprised at how quickly it comes together! Plus, we'll provide tips for mounting your project on a wall once you've finished.

  • Working Time 2 Hours
  • Start to Finish 2 Hours
  • Difficulty         Projects Easy
  • Involves Drilling

What you need

Tools

  • Acrylic cutter
  • Straightedge
  • Painters tape
  • Scrap wood
  • Pencil
  • Drill

Materials

  • Acrylic sheets
  • Double-sided tape
  • 2-inch screw post with cap (x4)
  • #10 flat washer (x8)
  • 1-inch spacer (x4)
  • 3/4-inch spacer (x4)
  • Leather string

How to do it

Step 1 Cut Acrylic Sheets

Use an acrylic cutter to cut two .093-inch-thick acrylic sheets to desired size. When using the acrylic cutter, align it with a ruler or T square to ensure a straight line. Once you've scored the acrylic sheets, snap the sheet against the edge of a table. We made our sheets 16x20 inches, but you can customize the dimensions to fit your existing artwork. If you opt for a thicker acrylic sheet, the cutting tool might not work. However, many home improvement and hardware stores will cut acrylic sheets to your desired size, which can save you time and effort.

Step 2 Mark and Drill

Stack the sheets on top of one another and secure together with tape. Tape each corner to a piece of scrap wood and clamp to the table. This will secure the sheets for drilling and prevent the acrylic from cracking. At each corner, measure and mark 1 inch in from all sides. Slowly drill through each marked hole placement. Be sure the drill is straight. Once finished, remove the tape as well as the protective plastic sticker on the acrylic sheets, if necessary.

Step 3 Attach Artwork

Now it's time to place your art. We found gorgeous blooming flowers at our local craft store but you can mount any decorative item or memento that fits your shadow box. For lighter objects, photographs, and paper artwork, use double-stick adhesive tape to mount artwork to the front of one of the acrylic pieces. Use a ruler to ensure it is centered. For larger objects, you might need to use hook-and-loop adhesive tape or a more heavy-duty mounting adhesive. 

Step 4 Assemble Frame and Mount

Push a 2-inch screw post through each hole in one sheet of acrylic. Add a #10 flat washer on each post. Then slide a 1-inch spacer and 3/4-inch spacer onto each post. Finish with another #10 washer on each post. Finally, slide the second sheet of acrylic over the posts, and secure caps to each post. For a hanger, tie a leather strap to the top two screw posts. We used a larks head knot to wrap around the metal posts for extra security. You could also use ribbon, rope, or another fun material to hang your completed shadow box. If the object in your shadow box is heavy, consider hanging it on a wall stud for security. 

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