The Shadow Box! Sounds like something Batman might use to catch the Joker, but in reality is just a simple woodworking project that you can do in less than an hour with only a 1″x 4″x 4′ piece of wood, and some scrap pallet wood.
It’s a great piece of decor to add that farmhouse rustic feel to your room, so let’s read on and see what it takes to make this nice 12″x 12″ (ish) shadow box!
DIY – Farmhouse Rustic Shadow Box using Pallet Wood
Tools Needed for this Project:
As mentioned above, you don’t need much at all. Heck, you might have enough scrap wood lying around the shop. If not, you’ll need:
Other goodies you can pull from around your shop (if you don’t have them already) are:
Step One – Four Simple Identical Cuts
We’ll start off pretty easy here. Assuming you don’t already have four perfectly matching 1″x 4″x 12″ pieces of wood lying around, you’ll have to cut your 1″x 4″x 4′ stock into four pieces. Now, I mentioned above that we were going to make a “12″x 12″ (ish) shadow box“, but due to the dado cuts (next step) and the width of our saw blade, the actual final product will be closer to 11.875″x 10.375″. So don’t be surprised if your four 12″ cuts come in closer to 11 7/8″, just due to the width of the blade you’re cutting with. Okie dokie?
Step Two – Rabbet Joint. But not Easter related.
Remember when we cut the dado joint in our Sofa Chair Arm Rest Table? Well, the Rabbet Joint is VERY similar to that. The only difference is that instead of cutting a joint directly in the middle of a board, we’re going to cut the joint at the very END of the board.
As the standard width of our pine stock is 0.75 inch, we’re going to cut all four corners at 0.75 inches down and 0.375 inches (half way) through the wood. While a video might make this easier, we’re going to have to rely on the pictures below to show you where, why and how to cut the joints. I used the sliding miter saw (with the depth stop set) to make my cuts.
Step Three – Glue and Nail your Box Frame
With your rabbet joints cut, you should now see the purpose they serve. A smooth transition between the corners, with a little intermediate woodworking technique to show off your skills. Just don’t drop the mic quite yet!
You’ll want to glue and nail all four corners of your shadow box frame. If you have some large clamps, you can also set them while the glue dries to make sure everything is nice and tight. As you’ll be working on the pallets next, now is a good time to fill your nail holes with stainable wood glue, so you don’t have to wait too long to sand.
Step Four – Pallet Backing
As mentioned above, due to how precise your saw blade and cutting skills are, your total shadow box length might be closer to 11.875″ versus 12″; keep that in mind when cutting your pallet backing. To make your measurements easy, lay your wooden frame on top of the pallet plank, mark it and cut it with your miter saw. Cut four pallet planks on the same length, then glue and nail them horizontally to the back of the shadow box.
PROTIP: Depending on how you want to finish the box, consider painting and finishing the box frame PRIOR TO applying the pallet backing!
Step Five – Sanding and Prep Prior to Finishing
Did you see the Protip above? If not, let me stress again. You MIGHT want to paint and finish the box, PRIOR TO applying the pallet backing. Totally up to you. Ok, moving along…
Just like our other DIY projects, we’ll want to sand the entire project with both 60 grit and 220 grit. As pallet wood is very gritty and rough, don’t go too crazy there. You’ll just ruin your sandpaper, and you won’t get too far!
Step Six – Painting, Waxing and Antique Glaze Finish
If you did or read our previous Rustic Serving Tray with the Farmhouse Finish project, this step should be very familiar. Actually… its identical!
Apply two coats of just plain flat white ceiling paint, followed by a few coats of Johnson Paste Wax and Valspar Antique Glaze. As mentioned prior, use less than a quater size of glaze on the entire project, as a little goes a LONG way!
The ‘farmhouse rustic’ finish comes from just randomly scraping 220 grit sandpaper over the finished painted/waxed product. Start slowly, as you don’t want to scrap off too much. But if you do mess up, just remember you can lightly sand, repaint and start over again.
Step Seven – Alllll Donnneeeeeee
And there you have it! You did it! Not only did you make it through another ridiculous post by yours truly, but you also have an awesome Farmhouse Rustic Shadow Box. Unfortunately though, the non-Batman version. Sorry! Maybe we’ll try that next time! 🙂
Step Eight – Share, Like, Comment, Purchase
Please share, like, comment to let your friends know about this post.
If you found this DIY project to be too difficult, or don’t have enough time to complete it, feel free to purchase it from our Etsy shop! I mean, we’ll eventually run out of room in our house if we keep everything we make, so it’s win/win!