How to Build a Wood Display Case

The key to knowing how to build a wood display case is in making sure that clear glass is used in most, if not all, of the panels and doors. A great wood display case should do just that, display what is inside the case. An excellent addition to installing glass in a wood display case is to install effective lighting and glass shelves. Both of these additions will make sure everyone can see what is on display in the wood display case.

Required Materials for Safety

  • Safety glasses
  • Ear plugs or headset
  • Gloves
  • Respiratory mask

Specific Hardware for Glass

  • Tempered glass (see note below in article)
  • Handles
  • Hinges
  • Silicone adhesive
  • Glass retaining clips
  • Magnetic latches

Wood Hardware

  • Particle board screws
  • Wooden flathead screws
  • Drill bits (especially for drilling pilot holes through particle board)
  • Adjustable shelf pins or shelf strips with pins
  • European hinges (optional)
  • Particle board
  • Plywood (Oak)
  • Hardwood (Oak)
  • Table saw
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Biscuits, #10 or #20
  • Portable drill
  • Set of raised panel bits (for door construction of door and to house glass panels)
  • Router

Step 1 - Building the Basic Wood Display Case

Building the basic wood display case can range from a rather small square box that is approximately 12 inches wide, deep and tall, to a much bigger, rectangle wall cabinet that is 31 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 80 inches tall. The main difference between these cabinets and a wood display case will be the addition of lighting, the glass panels and shelves.

Another excellent example of how to build a wood display case is the construction of a shadow box. This is a basic square, measuring approximately 12 by 12 inches, and about 6 inches deep. Items are mounted inside this box, which is then fitted with a glass-framed cover, much like an ordinary picture frame. The difference is that instead of a picture, actual items are mounted within the picture frame, creating a three-dimensional effect.

Step 2 - Consideration of Glass Panels

As mentioned earlier, the key to building a wood display case is in the installation lighting, glass panels, shelves. Once the cabinet is built to whatever dimensions are desired, it is time to install either tempered or regular window glass. It is less expensive to buy regular window glass, cut it to the desired dimensions and install it in the doors and cabinet panels. It would be more expensive to order tempered glass, but it is much safer to use because in the event of it breaking, it shatters and will prevent serious injuries. Tempered glass must be ordered to size because unlike regular window glass, it cannot be cut at home with a glass cutter.

Step 3 - Installation of Glass Panels, Shelves and Lighting

All that is necessary to install glass panels, shelves and lighting is careful consideration of hardware and installation procedures. Use the router and a straight router bit to router a quarter inch groove around all the cabinet doors. Apply a thin bead of silicone adhesive between the groove and the installed glass panels. Secure the glass with either glass retaining hardware or wooden strips glued to the door or panel frames. Use glass shelves instead of wood, and install a light fixture at the top of the cabinet to illuminate the cabinet.