This was a two-part project to build this shadow box that I'm posting together. The first build was in March of 2018 with an update done in April 2021.
I wanted to build a shadow box to display my Navy awards and insignia, but I wanted it to be something better than the ordinary, standard shadow box you find online. I also wanted it to be Navy themed and came up with the idea of using a porthole. I searched online looking for an actual porthole but found that a few manufacturers made decorative portholes for people to use as mirrors or picture frames. On my retirement, I was given a flag that was flown on the USS Eisenhower which was the ship I took my first arrested landing on. So I wanted to display that as part of the shadow box as well. This made it fairly large, but I think it looks impressive. With the display behind the porthole set back a little, it made the items inside a little hard to see because of the shadows, so I installed led lights around the inside connected to a button, on the outside which lit up the display nicely.
The first version was made out of two solid pine boards with trim around the edges. I did this because I wasn't sure how to hide the open edges of the plywood, and also I initially thought I'd stain it. However, this turned out to be a mistake because the stain didn't go on evenly so I ended up painting it black (which I like better anyway), but also the seam down the middle where I joined the two boards ended up coming apart a little after a few years. I also didn't do a very good job of designing the inside of the box to hold everything in place, so a lot of it was kind of make-shift (like small bungee cords holding the flag against the glass). So in 2021 I decided to do an upgrade and rebuilt the box out of plywood and used edge trim with decorative bolts to give it a more industrial look. I also redesigned the inside so everything fit and was held securely in place. I upgraded the LED lights and moved the button up directly under the porthole.
I was happy with the original build, but the updated build is really perfect! It's currently hanging in my office.