Build a Frame Around a Drawer to Make a Shadow Box
I love a good drawer upcycle! While looking around the basement shop, I had a brilliant idea. Why not make a repurposed drawer shadow box? I’ve made shadow boxes out of picture frames by building a box. How about if I used a drawer for the box, and a frame to finish it off? Seriously, it was one of those forehead thump moments!
Here are the items I started with. This drawer is from a project I made for my daughter Jamie when I very first started blogging. Drawers made into modular shelves. Years later she gave me the drawers back and I brought them home. I’m not sure when they ended up in the basement shop. The large picture frame was also in storage under the workbench in the basement. Lucky me?
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Dismantle Picture Frame
Using a small pry bar I separated each corner of the picture frame. I was careful and took my time so I wouldn’t cause too much damage.
Inside each corner were these metal supports. I used the hammer to tap, tap, tap them out of place.
After removing the supports, I used small pliers to remove the staples that originally held the print in place.
Trim Picture Frame on Miter Saw
The original frame was on a slight angle and leaned inward. I knew that I didn’t have much room with the short sides, so I only made sure they were on a 45° angle with a straight cut.
Measure Picture Frame Pieces for Shadow Box
Doing the short sides first, I marked them to fit the drawer shadow box. The little ledge fit perfectly on the drawer, exposing some of the edge.
Measure | Cut Repurposed Drawer Shadow Box
A 1x4 was perfect as a middle shelf for the drawer shadow box project. I measured and cut it on the miter saw. Generally I cut my boards like this just a little long because I want to make sure they fit tight. I can always take a little off if needed.
Dry Fit to Test Shelf
I did have to trim off just a little to make it fit in the drawer.
Sand 1x4 Shelf
It’s best to keep a sanding sponge near your saw so that you can immediately brush off any shavings and smooth any rough edges.
Install Shelf in Drawer Shadow Box
Did you know that you can use two clamps when one isn’t long enough? Gorilla Wood Glue is great for extra strength. After gluing, I secured it with the clamps, then finally shooting small brad nails with my nail gun.
Glue Picture Frame onto Drawer
Initially, I only glued (and clamped) the picture frame to the drawer shadow box. I used glue along the original routed edge of the picture frame as well as along each corner. I clamped each corner and let it set up overnight.
The next morning I used small brad nails and the nail gun to shoot at a slight angle to secure the picture frame to the drawer.
Drywall Mud vs Wood Filler
I prefer to use drywall mud for patching my woodworking projects. The only time it really doesn’t work is when I’m using spray paint. The coverage of the paint is just weird over the drywall mud. Here’s a tip for you—when you’re starting a DIY project, this large bucket (found in the contractor area) is so much cheaper than buying those small tubs in the paint department. I’ll explain more about the baby wipe below.
Getting Ready to Paint the Repurposed Drawer Shadow Box
To prep the drawer shadow box for painting, I had to clean it up and dust it off.
Make Your Own Primer
After mixing the Plaster with some water, I poured in the black paint and stirred well. Next I poured the mixture through my mesh strainer.
Using latex gloves is the best way to make sure most of the paint actually makes it into the paint cup. These mesh strainers are reusable for years!
Easy Project Painting with the Finish Max
The Super Finish Max paint sprayer is the best way to get any job done quickly. I prefer to always paint the back first so when I turn it over if anything gets scuffed it won’t be so noticeable.
The drawer shadow box got three light coats of the chalky paint primer. It dries really quickly because it’s flat. The downside is, with black paint it tends to leave handprints until it’s sealed.
Time to Patch Nail Holes
The brad nails left small dents that were very obvious after the black primer. To be perfectly honest, I had intended to use black as an undercoat and white as a topcoat with medium distressing. Therefore I didn’t think the nail dents would be an issue.
Again, I reached for the drywall mud and baby wipes. I used my finger to fill the small nail holes and you can see that it was quite messy. But if you look closely at the top left corner of the picture you will see that I have wiped away the excess drywall mud and the hole is perfectly filled. After filling the holes, I let the drywall mud set up for about 10 minutes before I used the baby wipe to clean up the mess. No sanding required!
The black drawer repurposed shadow box isn’t perfect, but I love it!
See? Isn’t it so cute? I also love the new transfers in The Junky Chalker Shop, seen here on a couple of DIY wooden houses I made.
Green Picture Frame Shadow Box
See that snippet on the bottom? Designer Challenge: Old Frames, New Uses! I was so thrilled!
Do you love shadow boxes as much as I do? Have you ever seen a repurposed drawer shadow box before?
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.