Air Force Shadow Box with Inlay

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Project by Muzhik posted 09-10-2015 10:13 AM 719 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As I near my own military retirement, I have several friends who are at the same point in their careers. Many are asking me to do their shadow boxes for them. I built this one for an Air Force Russian linguist friend who retired this summer.

It is built of genuine mahogany and curly maple. The inlays are curly maple or bloodwood. The bottom right corner is a map of the Russian mainland. That one was by far the most challenging. The top left is a Su-27 FLANKER. Bottom left is the new (-ish) Air Force insignia, and the top right is Master Sergeant (MSgt) rank insignia. This one was done through carving out the dark part and filling in the voids with epoxy that was colored with walnut sawdust. The lines aren’t perfect and crisp, but I’m happy with how it came out.

The flag for this one is NOT the member’s retirement flag. Instead, he wanted his father’s burial flag placed inside. Sadly, he lost his father at a young age, long before he joined the Air Force. I’m sure dad would be proud of his son’s stellar career!

I’m currently working on two shadow boxes that I’m pretty excited to do. One will be in the shape of the Air Force insignia (some examples of this concept posted here by others before). The other will be based on the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division insignia. They are for a couple (also friends) who are both retiring soon. There’s a chance his may be presented at the White House! I’m working some copper and brass into those two. I’ll be sure to post them when they’re done.

Here’s my rough sketchup drawing of the plan:

4 comments so far

View rmeredith's profile


26 posts in 951 days

#1 posted 09-10-2015 05:05 PM

Very nice looking. Did you use glass or plexi?

View Muzhik's profile


172 posts in 3558 days

#2 posted 09-10-2015 08:41 PM

I prefer not to use plexi. Consequently, I also prefer not to ship :)

View Jaydee829's profile


13 posts in 242 days

#3 posted 02-24-2016 02:23 PM

You build beautiful shadowboxes. I am getting ready to build my first shadowbox for my commander’s retirement and I was hoping you could answer a few questions about your process, or point me to a good reference. My biggest question has to do with incorporating the glass. I can see from your pictures that it looks like you construct the box and face frame separately and then glue them together. Do you finish both the box and the frame before this (except for the edges to be glued together)? Do you ever have any problems with glue squeeze out getting on the glass? Is there a good way to prevent this (I am assuming just use very little glue, just wondering if you had any tips as it related to shadowbox construction)? Thanks for posting all these beautiful projects, they are great inspiration!

-- Justin, California

View Muzhik's profile


172 posts in 3558 days

#4 posted 05-11-2016 11:21 AM

Jaydee829, I apologize for my extremely delayed response!

I route a rabbet in the backside of the face frame before I glue it to the box case (and square up the corners with a chisel). I then either make a few small blocks to overhang the glass and screw them to the backside of the face frame or simply use turn buttons to hold the glass in.

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