Military Challenge Coin Display

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Project by PASs posted 06-16-2012 04:20 AM 7151 views 7 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A lady and her husband talked with me at a craft show about finishing a military “Shadow Box” for them.
Her son had made the basic box, but had never finished it.
Due to a misunderstanding about the dimensions of a folded flag the part of the box designed to hold the flag was too small.
They decided to convert it into a coin display and had already purchased some 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch oak strips to insert into the frame.
The basic box was made of soft pine and had a 1/4 inch Plexiglas for the front and 1/2 pine plywood for the back. It was put together with 16 gauge finishing nails.
I was going to use an oak stain for the entire assembly but after getting it into the shop and looking at it I decided to stain the inside of the box with ebony and the oak strips and outside with American Walnut to give a contrast. Since the Plexiglas was captive within the frame I was concerned the stain would affect it. I did a couple of tests on some plexi I had in the shop and the stain didn’t affect it. As the Walnut stain was somewhat darker than the pine I had to flood the groove so the difference in color would not be noticeable.

I cut two groove into each strip (using a biscuit jointer), trimmed the ends to fit into the frame. I also mitered pieces to work around the flag holder.
Since the box was assembled with finishing nails shot in with a nail gun I attached the coin strips with 18 gauge finishing nails.
The lid for the box was too small, and the joints were too loose, to trust hinges so I decided to try something different. I used 1/2 inch diameter rare earth magnets epoxied into the lid and the frame to hold the cover on.
That worked so well I will use in in my own boxes in the future. They held the lid firmly to the frame and in exact alignment. To take the lid off you just put a hand on one side of the frame and push the lid to the side with the other hand. As soon as the lid moves about 1/4 inch the attractive force is small enough to pull the lid away from the box.
I sealed the wood with a couple of coats of 2 pound shellac, and top-coated with quick dry polyurethane.

Each coin strip has two slots, but using just the front slot I was able to put 81 coins in. I recommended to the customer that they stagger the coins front and back with a gap between the front coins. It should hold about 120 coins that way.
And I had a spare flag to play with and found I could actually stuff the folded flag into the holder.
The customer was happy, so that made me happy….and a few bucks richer!
Additional photos are available at:

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

6 comments so far

View nonickswood's profile


542 posts in 1992 days

#1 posted 06-16-2012 10:32 AM

It turned out very Nice! Pete.

-- Nick, Virginia,

View helluvawreck's profile


25316 posts in 2471 days

#2 posted 06-16-2012 11:36 AM

This is very nice and will be a wonderful conversation piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1131 posts in 1811 days

#3 posted 06-16-2012 01:50 PM

Beautiful work! That is impressive the way you were able to pick up someone else’s work and finish it so well! Well done!



-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View Roger's profile


20590 posts in 2409 days

#4 posted 06-16-2012 03:01 PM

This is a very nice shadow box. I like the magnet method for the lid/front. Beautiful!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View TomTinkerSum's profile


226 posts in 3440 days

#5 posted 06-16-2012 06:20 PM

Nice job. I’ve been working on a similar case. I love how you incorporated the flag in display case. I would like to use that on a future design. Great post including the story.


-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic.... :)

View sgtq's profile


370 posts in 2281 days

#6 posted 06-18-2012 03:52 AM

Love the magnet idea and finished work, good job!

-- There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton

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