DIYdiy projects

diy project: framed display box

by Kate Pruitt

in an attempt at minimalism, i decided to sell off my poorly treated, disorganized collection of cds, receiving a mere fraction of what i paid originally. apparently, nobody needs a scratched copy of depeche mode’s violator with a cracked jewel case and SO many memories and feelings attached to it…okay i’ll keep that one! but freeing up the space a cd collection takes up doesn’t really work if you still have all the boxes, bins, and binders they sat in. i donated most of the lot, but i decided that with a little decorative molding, a once humdrum plywood cd bin from ikea could become something much prettier. it’s remarkably easy to make a frame if you have a mitre box with 45 degree angle guides, and if you are looking for a wide frame, wood molding can be quite a bit cheaper than buying frames secondhand. the result makes me so happy, in fact, that i think i need to put on violator and remember the pain of my existence. oh, the angst… have fun! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


– old wood box, crate, etc.
– decorative wood molding (enough to frame your entire box + 4″ extra. mine is from a hardware store, is 2″ thick, and cost $12 for 72″)
– saw and mitre box (you can buy these as a set at a hardware store)
– ruler
– pencil
– wood glue
– painters tape
– contact paper
– exacto knife
– drill (optional: if your box does not have holes for hanging, you need to drill a couple in the back)


1. Measure the INSIDE dimensions of your box (this is the width and length of the opening in the box).

2. Use your mitre box to cut one end of your molding to a 45 degree angle. Make sure your molding is aligned properly: the top edge should be the outer edge of the frame, and the 45 angle should be ” / ” in orientation instead 0f ” “.

3. Measure and mark the longer dimension of your box from the inside edge of the piece you cut. Now cut to that mark with the opposite orientation of the 45 degree angle, or “” instead of “/”.

4. You have your first piece. You need to saw off the “” edge that you have on the remaining molding piece to turn it into a new “/” edge for the next piece. This ensures the frame aligns correctly (outer edges are all the same).When in doubt, hold the pieces together and see what I mean:) This is why you need extra length on the molding piece.

5. Repeat steps 2 -4 for the remaining three sides of your frame.

6. Apply wood glue to all the angled sides of the frame and lay on a work surface. Squeeze pieces together tightly and apply painters tape around the four edges to secure while it dries. Use a damp cloth to wipe up any excess glue. Let the glue set for at least 15-20 min.

7. While the glue is drying you can put the contact paper around the box (this is only if you don’t like the way the sides look. Mine were ugly so I need to hide them). Measure the width of your box and cut a long strip of contact paper that will fit all the way around the perimeter of your box. If your box does not have hanging holes in the back, drill four holes in the four corners for hanging.

8. Start in the center of the top of your box: since you hang this item at eye level, the top is the least likely side to be seen, so that’s where to put the seam. Align the edge of the contact paper to be flush with the front of the box, and wrap around the box, smoothing out air bubbles and wrinkles as you go. Contact paper is quite forgiving, so you can pull it up and reapply it as needed.

9. Once your frame is dry, lightly sand, paint, or stain it as desired. Once that step is compete and the frame is dry, apply a thin layer of glue to the entire front rim of the box edge. Don’t apply a ton of glue, but don’t worry about drips, you can easily wipe them off the contact paper. Apply a line of glue around the inside of the backside of the frame as well, where the frame will make contact with the front edge of the box.

10. Press firmly and use tape to press the frame down while the glue dries. Use a damp cloth to wipe any drips.The wood glue should be set in 15-30 min and totally strong by 24 hours.

11. Once the glue has set, you can hang the framed display box anywhere you like, and fill with your prized possessions, including crummy old cds:)


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  • Great idea! Just what I’ve been wanting to do to display my great Aunts collection of tin can doll furniture. Thanks for the ideas and how-to.

  • kupi –
    you can find them at most hardware stores. it’s called a mitre (or miter) box. sometimes it’s sold with the saw, or you can ask for the right type of saw to fit the guides. it’s a great hand tool…good luck!

  • lol, kate–the angsty angst! i still listen to violator. oh, that voice and the synthesizers NEVER get old!

  • i am happy to hear i’m not the only one who can’t part with their copy of violator! :)

  • This just reinvigorated my desire for a mitre box.

    Do you have a source for the great patterned Con-Tact paper? Seems like designs I usually see are either super basic or a bit too granny for my taste…

    • emily

      skip the pre-made kind and just use a sheet of gift wrap. cut a piece of clear contact paper about an inch longer than the gift wrap on all sides and use it to “seal” the gift wrap on the surface. it will make it stick and make it water proof- then you can use whatever design you like :)


  • You can have my Violator CD when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Cracked jewel case and all… Mmmmm, DAVE!

  • Love it! I did the same thing with my boyfriends black cd holder, put it next to the kitchen with cute black & white french espress cups in it!

  • violator is a superb album! great that you brought that up!
    and the shelf is awsome as well!

  • Great idea – how many of us need more places to put our bits and pieces. I think it could be used on either side of the bed instead of bedside tables if space is tight. It could fit an alarm clock, book etc…

  • i know that you offered a workaround on the contact paper. but it would be great to know where the contact paper used in the project is from. or if the technique that you suggested was used, where is the wrapping paper from?

    i’m also not quite understanding how this method would make the back of the wrapping paper sticky except for on the 1in border that is left…that doesn’t seem like it would work for this project. help! maybe i’m just not understanding correctly…

  • hi lauren!
    the contact paper pattern was a find for me as well, i had never seen it before. i purchased it at orchard supply hardware (OSH). the pattern does not have a name, nor does it have an item number on it, but here’s the sku in case that helps at all:
    perhaps you can call OSH and ask for it by this number. i have found that OSH has the best selection of decorative contact papers. good luck!

  • Lauren,

    Never mind! I just called and got the info:
    It’s called Lagoon Mist, the product SKU is 2959195 and the item stock number is 24F-C9Q98-06

    I hope this helps!

  • These display boxes are a great way of taking the bare look off a wall rather than using art. And a great place to display some small nick nacks.

  • Has anyone found that contact paper per chance? I’m going nuts looking for it, even with the SKU and item number!

  • You might find Contact sold as Fablon. Or if you go into a craft shop and ask for ‘sticky-backed plastic’, that might do it – that’s the generic term in the UK anyway.

    Incidentally (and of course this only works for something that can cope with water), you can prevent bubbles with a pretty simple trick. Get a spray bottle and half-fill with water, then add s a squirt or twoof washing-up liquid. Shake gently, and then spray the area you want to put the Contact onto lightly (!!) with the mixture. When you put the Contact onto the surface, you should not be able to smooth out any bubbles to the edge. When the liquid dries, the Contact will be stuck firmly.