If you would like me to review an item, or sponsor me, just let me know, I'd love it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shadowbox Tutorial

This is my post that was featured at Not Just A Housewife last Friday!  My first FEATURE!! YAY!! 
I am so excited to be guest posting here at Not Just a Housewife! What an honor! My name is Clisty, and I blog at Rural Grace 

I am ecstatic to be featured for my first time!! I haven't been blogging for very long, but love it!  I love trying new recipes and sharing old favorites.  Giving new life to old furniture. I do a little quilting, crafting and love doing fun things with my girls.  I am the mom of 3 beautiful girls ages 1, 3, & 6.  I also have an amazing husband who helps me with my projects (just another way to spend time together).  We live in rural Idaho, our little valley is beautiful and peaceful (and an hour away from any 'real' stores).  I can't imagine living anywhere else!

I decided to do a tutorial on this cute shadowbox.  My husband and I have made several of these, I gave mine to a friend for her Birthday, so I got a new one.  Then I gave that one to a church auction and I haven't gotten another one since.  So to get mine done I decided to do a tutorial on it then I'd have a deadline for mine.  My front porch is empty and missing the shadowboxes that once hung there, so here we go!

To get started you need a 1x8x8 piece of pine or MDF (if you'll be painting it), you will use the whole piece if you make it a 2 foot  shadowbox.  You will also need 10-12 feet of molding (that should give you room for a few little mistakes).  Any molding will work, just find a cut/design that you like.  For this tutorial I will be using some antique molding, so if you're buying new stuff and are planning to paint it the MDF is the easiest to work with.  We have made them with all real wood and with MDF, and with Pine sides, but MDF molding.  It all works fine.

This is the molding we're using, it was in my MIL's house. A few years ago she got new carpet and my husband decided she needed new molding to go with the carpet, so we took out the old stuff and he saved it.  The molding was put in when his Grandfather remodeled their house in the 1930's.  I love old things, especially things with family history.  This is the 2nd shadowbox that has been made out of this really cool old molding.  Lloyd made one for his sister a while back, and now I get one for my house too!  The pine1x8x8 is here too ;) See the old carpet stuck to staples in the wood?  A wonderful orange and brown shag lol.   It was also super dirty from sitting in our shed for so long.  I wiped it off and pulled all the staples out.  It was very holey after that.
We used this spray on paint/varnish remover.  It's safe to use indoors, no harsh smell, it smells like oranges, and works really well too!  But no matter what always remember to use gloves!  Safety first! lol

We sprayed the wood with some stripper to get some of the paint off.  The stripper is orange color, which is nice so you can see where it has been sprayed.  We let that sit for 1 hour.
Scraping off the old paint with a putty knife, I didn't want all of it gone though.  I think it adds character to it when there's a little bit of old paint oil seeping through the new paint.

I like the size of a 2 foot square shadowbox, but you could make it whatever size, it could be a rectangle if you choose to do so.  If you have a specific spot in mind for the shadowbox, you cold always use painters tape and tape off the spot in the size you desire to see if it works. It might need to be smaller or bigger, these plans are easy to change, not much math goes into it.
We chose a table saw to cut the 1x8 pine, you could use a chop saw/miter saw, a hand saw (not recommended) or a circular saw (just whatever you're comfortable with or have) lots of options.

All the 1x8 pieces are identical, I just love the smell of freshly cut pine!! It's beautiful too!!

We used a brad-nailer with 1" brads to attach the 1x8 pieces to form a square.  You could also use finishing nails if you don't have access to a nailer.

Here is the finished box, the molding is up next!  We don't use backs on our shadowboxes I like to see the color of paint through the box. You could definitely add one using some wainscoting/bead-board, that would be really cute!  Also if you can see one side of the box is longer than the other from butting the pieces together, so it's not actually a perfect square, but pretty close. 

Measure inside corner to inside corner to get the measurement for the molding.
The chop saw/miter saw gets turned to a 45* angle to cut an end of the molding, then flipped the opposite way 45* for the other end so the pieces can butt together, do the same for all 4.

Before nailing the molding on we always run a thin bead of glue along the edge.

Sophie did NOT like the sound of the brad-nailer. My other two girls don't mind the sound of tools, but Soph must have sensitive ears, because she covers them or runs away.
Before nailing you might want to set all the pieces of molding on the box to see how they fit together.  Sometimes you have to switch pieces to get them to fit right.  And don't worry if you have some small gaps.  It won't be perfect, and we'll putty them later, I'll show you how to make it look almost perfect!
The box has two sides nailed on, if you look close you can see the small gap in the corner, easily hidden.
After I puttied all the holes and gaps in this old molding I let them dry. If you use some new molding from the hardware store, you should just have to putty the brad-nail holes and the gaps.  Once dry I sanded the molding making sure it was smooth, then wiped it all down with a damp cloth to get all the dust off.

Here is the final product!! I love it! I'm trying to decide if I'm going to scuff the edges or put a stain on it to antique it a little bit and make the details stand out more.  I think I'll look at it for a while on my wall before I make that final decision, plus I want to see how the old paint oils seep through the new paint.  (I know my candles have seen better days, I think I'll replace them soon.)    Here are a few other projects I have done.

Check out my wall plaques tutorial here
Here's a Shoe Cubby Redo

Yummy Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes Recipe

 Thank you, Stacy, for letting me share my project with your readers! I hope you all will come see me sometime and check out my other fun stuff!


  1. I figured I had to get more post on my blog. I am slowly working on it! I am combining my business with the blog, so things will be for sale! I will add you button, I just don't know how to make my own! SO I will figure that out and let you know. Could you give me a hint!

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad you'll be able to use the idea. I hope to see a before and after! You've got some great ideas here. Unfortunately, I won't be able to try some of them for a while. My husband and I live in an apartment in Virginia. No garage or power tools! :(
    I'm an Idaho girl though, so Go Broncos!