3 Best Ways to Secure Items in a Shadow Box

An unplugged glue gun with several additional glue sticks.
What You'll Need
Double-sided tape
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks
What You'll Need
Double-sided tape
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks

A shadow box is actually a type of picture frame, but unlike a normal picture frame, it is much deeper and allows various objects to fit inside. Popular items to fit inside shadow boxes include wedding invitations, baby clothes, tickets, and various other mementos; however, you will need to secure whatever it is you are putting in the frame somehow. There are actually three different techniques that can be used to fix your things in place.

Choosing the Right Way to Secure Items

When securing items inside your shadow box, it's important that you choose the right options for each part of your object. You will want the shadow box to last for as long as possible, without items inside moving, which is why choosing the right method of fixing items is so important. Take into consideration both the weight and the material of all of your pieces when deciding how to proceed.

1. Double-sided tape

One of the easiest methods of securing items inside a shadow box is using double-sided tape. This makes it very simple to position the items and also means that you can easily move them if you need to. The only problem with double-sided tape is that it's not really suitable for very large or heavy items. Over time, the double-sided tape will lose strength and come unstuck, which will allow heavier mementos to fall.

Using double-sided sticky tape is perhaps the simplest method, and it's also the least messy option.

2. Pins

Another option is using a pin to push through the item and stick it to the backboard of your shadow box. However, this is only suitable for certain types of objects, such as toys, children’s clothing, or paper. The only real disadvantage to this strategy is that the pinheads will be visible for all to see. This can be turned into a positive result if you use stylized pins or certain colored pins to create an organized look.

3. Hot Glue

Using a glue gun is another way to secure all kinds of items inside a shadow box. It creates a very strong bond that should not come loose over time. However, hot glue guns are not suitable for gluing everything. Anything porous may absorb the glue, which will, in turn, prevent it from holding properly.

Whichever technique you decide to use to fix your shadow box items in place, you need to ensure that they are held firmly where they are. Ideally, this box will stay on the wall for a long time, and you really don't want things to drop off and ruin your display.

Secure Items in a Shadow Box FAQ

How do you pin a shirt in a shadow box?

Attaching a shirt of any kind to a shadow box is possible but this is a bit of a tedious project. You will need to use small framing pins or make stitches with a standard needle and thread.

First, make sure the shirt is straight and flat and even and that it is folded and placed exactly as you want to see it displayed. Next, use the pins or make small stitches every few inches all the way around the perimeter of the shirt.

Work slowly and keep the shirt straight and even. As you work, you could slightly jostle the shirt out of place so it will need to be straightened often.

How do you mount coins in a shadow box?

Coins can be mounted in a shadow box in a few different ways. The most secure method is to cut holes that are perfectly sized to the perimeter of each coin in the back of the box, add a dab of glue and then set the coins into this space.

Alternatively, you can simply attach the coins using glue without making cutouts first. However, using cutouts is the more secure method.

Can you use command strips on shadow boxes?

Command strips, made by 3M, are used for mounting hooks and many other items to doors and walls. However, the manufacturer does not recommend using the strips to mount shadow boxes.

Command strips should also not be used on fabric or paper surfaces, which makes them unsuitable for mounting things inside shadow boxes as well.

What do you put between layers in a shadow box?

To add depth and layers to a shadow box, use foam dimensional adhesive. This creates space between layers and gives the shadow box a truly 3D look.

What kind of glue do you use for shadow boxes?

Many different kinds of glue can be used to mount items to shadow boxes. Crafters use everything from liquid glue to epoxy to foam tape.

In most cases, you'll probably be fine with craft glue or superglue to mount most shadow box items.