Air Force Wing and Star Shadow Box

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Project by Muzhik posted 11-24-2015 10:38 PM 564 views 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is one of a pair of shadow boxes I just finished for a couple that is retiring soon. She’s an Air Force retiree, and asked me to do a wing and star shadow box. Several others have been posted here before.

I was given a relatively generous budget and design freedom with only a few guidelines. With that, I decided to push my limits, while at the same time incorporating techniques and finishes I’ve learned over the years.

The wood is all quartersawn white oak, with a fumed finish to pop the grain. After fuming, I used a little tung oil varnish to liven up the grain. Then I used some dark red gel stain to add some contrast, since it darkens up the open pores in oak. From there I sprayed some dewaxed shellac with a little orange tint to bring some color back after the fuming. Finally, I topped it off with a few coats of lacquer (after putting in the copper inserts – see below).

Most of the corner miters are pegged with brass pins, and I ran brass pins through the ends on the bottom of the flag case as sort of loose through tenons.

For the fill in inserts in the Air Force logo, I decided to gild some masonite panels with copper leaf, leaving some gaps to reveal japan paints applied beneath the copper. I then used a few acid solutions and resists/transfer media (tissue paper, cheesecloth and nylon mesh) to patina the copper. I also selectively applied some silver leaf under the copper, and applied the copper in a way that it would reveal the shape of her rank insignia on the center, circular piece of the whole thing.

Then I used that circular piece as the button for the switch that turns the lights on/off.

The lights are LED strip lighting fed by a 6000 mAh rechargeable battery pack. I routed the wires for the battery pack charging port to a relatively inconspicuous location where the wall charger connector can be plugged in.

For the switch itself, I needed it wired so a momentary push button could turn the lights on and off, with the button returning to the same position each time. The answer was to use a dual coil, double pole double throw latching relay, with one set of switched leads wired through capacitors and resistors to opposite coils – whereas the other set of switched leads would actually switch the light strips on/off. The other side of each coil went to the switch, but they are diode-isolated from one another (ping me if you want more details).

I have plenty of progress pictures, and in hindsight should have blogged these as I built them. Might post up some here instead if anyone has questions.

I’ll post up the other shadow box soon. Thanks for taking a look!

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