DIY salvaged shadow box

DIY salvaged shadow box - before

Two drawers were left over from my modular bookcase project. I didn’t think they’d be useful for anything but firewood. But upon closer inspection, I began to appreciate the aged beauty of the wood—even the smattering of white paint. Combining the drawers into one shadowbox—and not painting it—was a great way to showcase the wood’s character and history. Thanks again to my favorite neighborhood woodworker for cutting the pieces.

How to make a shadowbox out of a salvaged drawer

Supplies and tools

  • hammer
  • nails
  • pliers
  • saw (or a friend who will cut the wood for you)
  • pencil

1. Disassemble one of the drawers. Start by hammering the sides loose, then hammer the nails through from the back side. Removing all the nails is challenging, but not impossible.


2. Measure the assembled drawer and sketch how many cubbies you want your shadowbox to have. Make a list of the pieces you will need with their dimensions.


3. Gather and measure all the side pieces from the disassembled drawer. Make sure you have enough wood for your plan. (I didn’t have enough, so I found a piece of wood at a salvage yard that matched. It cost me $1.) Measure and cut them to size.


4. Round up all the knick-knacks you plan to display and lay out your arrangement using the cut pieces. Confirm that everything fits as planned. Adjust as needed.


5. Mark with a pencil where each shelf should be placed. Remove and set aside all the tchotchkes.


5. Attach the smaller pieces to the larger pieces with a hammer and nails. I used three nails to attach each board. Assemble the entire grid of cubbies.


6. Nail the grid into place from the outside of the drawer. (I used old nails from a salvage yard that matched the original ones for a more authentic look.)


7. Now all you have to do is fill it with your tchotchkes. Optional: To hang it on the wall, attach sawtooth hangers or keyhole fasteners to the back.