Unique Shadow Box

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Project by Muzhik posted 03-30-2007 06:07 PM 3797 views 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This one came to me through a friend of my mother, and bears a little explaining. Her father passed away, and she didn’t have very much to remember him by. She did have a few items that she considered special. Among those items were a cattle prod and branding iron that were always in his truck. He made some of his income as a small-time rancher in Texas.

I added the Texas state silhouette/state flag scrollsaw piece and the framed black and white photos (I used walnut for the “mat board”) to take up some of the extra space in the case.

14 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#1 posted 03-30-2007 07:43 PM

That’s reallly nice. (But I’m sure glad you provided an explanation or I’d have been scratching my head for sure.) :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#2 posted 03-30-2007 08:04 PM

and you have taken this from a “huh??” to a “oooooooh how special!” This is lovely. Your additions are beautiful accent pieces to her “memories”.

Very, very special

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View BassBully's profile


261 posts in 4121 days

#3 posted 03-30-2007 08:07 PM

Why do they call them Shadow boxes? Nice box by the way.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Muzhik's profile


173 posts in 4162 days

#4 posted 03-30-2007 08:20 PM

Thank you for the kind remarks.

BassBully, the explanation I’ve heard for the term shadow box goes back to an old Navy tradition (I’m in the Air Force, by the way).

In the Navy, when you retire and leave your ship for the last time, it is considered bad luck for your shadow to make landfall before you touch the pier. It used to be that sailors would spend their entire careers on one ship, and naturally by the time they were ready to retire, they would have a collection of momentos from their travels. Their shipmates would fashion a treasure chest, of sorts, to hold that collection, which the retiree would carry off the ship when he departed for the final time. He would carry the box in such a way that the box’s shadow covered up his own so that he could step foot on the pier before his shadow touched it.

These “shadow boxes” evolved into what is traditionally given to military members today upon retirement. They usually contain a ceremonially-folded flag, rank insignia, medals and other memorabilia. But they look like any other display case these days, and I think the terms are now interchangeable.

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4297 days

#5 posted 03-30-2007 08:47 PM

That is so very special. What a wonderful and beautiful shadow box. I am sure it will be treasured for the memories that it brings of her father as well as the beauty of the woodwork.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#6 posted 03-30-2007 09:05 PM

re: shadow box – I didn’t know that!!! Fascinating (especially since Rick was in the Navy in his younger years) Very cool.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Sawdust's profile


128 posts in 4432 days

#7 posted 03-30-2007 09:26 PM

That is nicely done. I like the small splined frame.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4117 days

#8 posted 03-31-2007 01:52 AM

The box and frame are terrific and I especially like what you did with the state. Just beautiful work!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4351 days

#9 posted 03-31-2007 05:28 AM

beautiful, interesting, and informative!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4147 days

#10 posted 04-25-2007 03:09 PM

This is great, I especially like the small framed photos and the state piece you made.


View woodchips's profile


238 posts in 3989 days

#11 posted 09-17-2007 05:59 AM

well being from Texas myself, I really like that you used stain instead of paint to show the flag. Just having the woodgrain show through like that adds a great flair to a very nice piece. I, too, like the splined frame and black-n-white photos, you gave this piece a very artistic feel. thanks for posting it!

-- "Repetition is a leading cause of carelessness, and carelessness usually leads to injury"

View Muzhik's profile


173 posts in 4162 days

#12 posted 09-17-2007 06:04 AM

Actually, woodchips, it’s not stain either. The flag was done with black walnut, bloodwood (satine), curly maple and birdseye maple for the star. I had scraps of all those woods in the scrap bin and my wife had a new Hawk RBI scroll saw. That thing is awesome, by the way.
Thanks for posting!

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 4012 days

#13 posted 09-17-2007 06:10 AM

That has got to be one of the most unique shadow boxes I have saw. I have a soft spot for the military ones but I like this one as well. Thank you for sharing!!!

View Muzhik's profile


173 posts in 4162 days

#14 posted 09-17-2007 06:24 AM


You might be interested in the one I made for my father. He was in the Air Force as well. Here’s a link:

Edit: Oh, it appears you have already seen it, Buck. I’m leaving the link in the thread in case anyone else is interested…

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