DIY Museum Gallery Style Shelves to Display Small Things

During our recent trip to India, we bought some carved wooden combs at DakshinaChitra, an arts institution in Chennai. I thought they’d make a cool display on a wall. But how to display them? I didn’t want to do the expected thing, which was to frame them. Instead, cool little cube shelves were made to hold them. Here’s how I did it …

I found inexpensive and lightweight wood boxes at Hobby Lobby. They’re supposed to be wooden bags or boxes, but I could see them as little shelves:

DIY Little Cube Shelves

To turn them into shelves, cut the twine handles off and fill in the holes with spackling or wood filler:

Turn Wood Boxes Into Wall Shelves

Then I painted the little boxes a metallic gold color. You can paint or stain wooden boxes however you like. I chose shiny metallic gold to contrast with the dark wood combs.

Little DIY Gold Wall Shelves

So now to explain the little sticks. The combs are thin and they need more surface for glue to stand straight and steady. So the backs of the combs will butt up against the sticks on the cubes. The combs will be glued to these sticks, as well as to the cubes. This increases the surface area for glue. After the above photo, I painted the sticks gold.

In the photo below, the little sticks are hidden behind the bottoms of the combs.

How to make little cube wall shelves

Also be sure to set up the cubes so their openings face the wall. The openings will be up against the wall when you hang the cubes. To hang them on the wall, you could use L-brackets like these from Home Depot:

How to Attach the Cube Shelf to the wall

While you can nail or screw the L-bracket into the wall, if you use very thin wood for the cubes, you’ll need to glue the L-bracket to the inside of the cube. You can’t use a nail or screw because it will stick up through the top of the cube! If your cube and object for display are lightweight, a shorter L-bracket should be fine with a strong glue. If you have a heavier cube and heavier object, use a longer L-bracket for more holding strength. If you’re handy enough, you can also custom-make your own hanging mechanism with another piece of wood that the cube could slip onto.

This is a very easy, fast project! Now I need to find the perfect place to hang my cubes!

P.S. – And based on photos lately, my partnership with my iPhone’s camera is so over! Do the iPhone cameras degrade over time? Mine is two years old.

Updated a few months later – Found a place to hang the cubes. Here they are arranged on a wall:

Gallery or Museum Style Display  Boxes DIY

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