How To Make your Own Display Case

This feature explains how I made a cheap glass display case with interior dimensions of 50(length)x9(width)x40(height) cm.s, framed with wood, for a single model or a diorama. The lengths given must be checked for those cases with different dimensions, and materials must be obtained accordingly. At the end, I will provide some schemes, so you can make calculations easier. I advise you to first calculate the correct lengths of materials, check that again and again and only after that buy what you know you need.

So, let us start with how I made my own display case, here we go ;

material list
All materials that will be used are shown in Photo 1.
Wood (balsa, pine, mahogany, whichever you like), etc:
  • - 1 balsa sheet (5 mm thick, sold here in Turkey as 10 cm wide, 1 m long)
  • - 5 5x5 mm square section balsa strips (1 m long)
  • - 8 2x2 mm square section balsa strips (1 m long) (I preferred to cut these from 2 mm sheet myself to make it cheaper)

Some thin wood sheet, used for covering furniture, enough to cover the whole base (50x9 cm or larger)(Thichkness of this material is about half a mm, and here it will be used to cover the base of the model. You can use whichever wood you like, or be creative and use other sheet material. If you are going to build a case for your diorama for example, you will not need this because the base will be the base of your diorama.)

Please note that balsa sheet and strips in the picture are cut into two parts for me to carry them easily home. So, they are 40, 50 and 60 cm long pieces, cut according to the needed dimensions of my case. I mean be careful about the dimensions while cutting if you plan to do the same thing, cut according to your own needs, do not just slice into two equal parts in the store.

Ordinary Glass (3 mm thick) (Acrylic can be used, but I do not like it):

  • - 2 40.5x50 cm (long sides)
  • - 2 40.5x9 cm (short sides)
  • - 1 50x9 cm (top)

(Glass not shown in the picture showing materials)

Be careful while handling glass, it cuts... Cuts worse than knife...

Other materials:

  • - Pins
  • - Wood lacquer
  • - Thinner for lacquer
  • - Cellotape
  • - White glue

Now we can start constructing our display case.

step 1 : the base
Take one of the two 5mm thick balsa sheets and cut 3 cm wide 50 cm long strips. You need two 46 cm and two 11 cm long pieces. These are to be arranged as a rectangle frame with dimensions of 52x11 cm For supporting the models weight above, glue some scrap 5mm. thick balsa in the void of this frame, because base of the model is going to stand on this frame. We do not want the base to sag with the weight of the model.(Photo 2)

Then take two 5x5mm balsa strips to cut two 52cm and two 11cm pieces, with all ends cut at 45 degrees to be formed into a frame. Using white glue, glue these pieces on the first frame you built with 5mm sheet, with outer edges of both frames aligned. This is the outer frame of your base, inside which will rest the vertical elements of the case. You can make the outer frame using wood strips with different sections, if you like it to be more eleborate. I prefer simple frames and bases, but it is all personal taste. Note that the length and width of the base underneath is directly dependant on the width of this outer frame, so consider that while selecting a material for the outer frame. Calculate the dimensions of both together.

Take the second 5 mm sheet and cut a 50x9cm plate (This is my model base, use your own model base, like the base of your diorama). Leaving 5 mm space at the inner part of this last frame, glue the base on the frame underneath. The gap of 5 mm around this plate will take the vertical glass and the vertical frames. I covered my base with thin wood sheet, used for covering furniture by using white glue and leaving it under pressure of some heavy books for one night.

  • picture_01
  • picture_02
  • picture_03
  • picture_04

About the Author

About Çağın Başaran (caanbash)

Born in 1977, made my first model when I was 7. As an architect, model making is a part of my profession. But it also made me stop making plastic models for ten years, but architectural models. In 2006, I decided to return to my hobby. All the old models I had are ruined and gone now, during house c...