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Planning A Perfect Display Case

custom display cases

Here at Grandpa’s Cabinets, I get asked almost daily about how a display case should be sized and designed to get the best looking display of the customers model or piece of art.  Each item is different and really needs to be evaluated as to the best way to get it shown with the most impact on the person admiring it.

It seems the majority of items being displayed in a display case are models built with painstaking accuracy and attention to detail and require security and protection from interested hands and dust.  Here are a few bits of information I want to pass along to all who are thinking of ordering a display case for their precious items.

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When I ask for information about the size of case the customer wants, I always ask for the ‘inside dimensions” that need to be followed as determined by the customer’s model and desires.  However, when asked for my input, I recommend the customer allow between 1 and 1/2 inches at the front, back, sides and at the top for the model to have a presence in the case that gives all attention to that item.  I feel any more open space just takes away from the item being displayed and serves no purpose other than increased cost.

speciality display case

When a customer wants to display a ship etc., they need to take into account the mounting the item will have in their size requirements.  Invariably there will be one or two who forget to allow for those finials or mounts that their model sits on and come up short in the inside height dimension.  As I try to do in the woodshop, measure twice and cut once!

custom display case

In closing, it’s always a very good idea to place your item in the position you want it to be displayed and try a few different poses.  When you’re satisfied with the look you want, then measure the case “inside” dimensions you’ll need allowing that 1 1/2 or 2 inches on all sides and the top.  I think you’ll be very pleased with the end result once Grandpa’s Cabinets has built you the quality display case to house that very important item.  Also, remember, I build display cases for ANYTHING that has value, whether monetarily or sentimentally, that needs protection and a furniture quality display case and EVERYTHING I build is custom and hand made by me personally, right here in the USA!

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I look forward to working for you.  Contact my website at www.grandpascabinets.com and request a quote on your next custom display case need.  You’ll be surprised at how affordable one can be built for your most precious collecible.  Ron Baluch

Go to www.grandpascabinets.com or call Ron personally at 586-506-2222 for information and suggestions.

 

How is a Custom Display Case Actually Created?

 

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Creating a custom display case requires a ton of patience, measuring and re-measuring, operating and maintaining power equipment and a ton of desire to produce a product that not only the customer will be pleased with but you as well need to be totally pleased. Every case I build must have the quality that I personally would be proud to display in my own home. After all, when someone has something to display that has very special meaning to them, or a model builder has spent hundreds of hours building that one of a kind model, it must be protected and displayed with the same attention to detail and quality that went into their memorabilia.

 

To detail just how I go about building a custom display case, I’ll start with some steps I take to get all my ducks in a row.  The first thing is to take a moment to determine the overall size of the acrylic sheet I’ll need for an individual case.  Because I heat bend the acrylic to form a three sided box with no ends, I must allow some acrylic to allow for the bend and still maintain the dimension the customer wants their case to be.  Once I’ve determined the size I need, I use a very special saw blade just for cutting acrylic and I cut the material allowing a little extra.  This is to allow me to run all edges over my jointer to get the smoothest edges possible to reduce the bubbling effect that appears whenever you weld acrylic.

 

Ron now works with the optical quality acrylic on the bending jig, creating the cover to fit the oak base.

Ron now works with the optical quality acrylic on the bending jig, creating the cover to fit the oak base.

Now that I have the acrylic cut to size, I take it back to the table saw where I score (cut a very shallow line) the acrylic where I want it to bend when heated to the right temperature.  I’ve designed and built my own bending jig which allows me to get perfect 90 degree corners for a more precise finish on all my cases.  Now that the acrylic is scored, I place it over the heat rod for a period of time, and never too much or too little as that makes a perfect bend not possible or the acrylic burned or warped if too long.  When it’s just right, I form the right angle edge and let it cool.

 

Next, after the two bends have been made, I cut the end pieces of acrylic and weld them onto the ends of the three sided box to form a box with one open side that will become the bottom that sits on the solid hardwood base.  This is allowed to dry for at least two days for a solid weld.

 

The oak base has been routed and sanded to desired finish quality, and a final coat of polyurethane clear coat is applied.

The oak base has been routed and sanded to desired finish quality, and a final coat of polyurethane clear coat is applied.

I then go to the base.  I choose the best, flattest and straightest piece of wood with a grain pattern that is pleasing to the eye and cut it to a rough size.  After I’ve jointed and planed the wood, I cut it to it’s final size based on the opening of the acrylic cover.  It is often the case when I have to glue up multiple pieces of wood to create a base wide enough to accommodate the acrylic cover which I can do easily.  Actually, with wide bases, the more pieces used to create the wide enough base, the better as that prevents warping, bending and twisting later in it’s life.

I then run the outer edges through my router to create the beautiful edges with soft curves and a raised platform for the acrylic to sit over to prevent it from moving around on the shelf when displayed.  Lastly, this is sanded and smoothed for finishing.  I stain every base to the color the customer desires, and I apply at least 2 topcoats of satin polyurethane to the finished base for a finish that’s soft to the eye and provides great protection.

 

To finish a custom display case, the last step is to run the acrylic cover through the router to round over the edges PICT0240where the two ends were welded on so ALL edges have a rounded over finish so there appears that the acrylic was formed rather than constructed.  It’s one extra step that I feel gives a much more professional look to the finished case.  The very last thing is to flame polish the routed edges so all surfaces are smooth and glossy.

 

PICT0206So, you can see, building a custom display case is a work of art in itself, and I personally take it very seriously.  Every case leaving here is created by me personally.  I’m a one man company who believes every customer deserves the best possible work and it’s my job to guarantee they will get just that.  If I wouldn’t place it in my home, I would never send it out to your home, period.  Please contact me with any questions about my work, service and quality anytime at ron@grandpascabinets.com.  I’d love to hear from you and work for you in the very near future.

custom display cases

An antique pocket watch needed special care and protection. The customer was very pleased with the result.

 

 

Creating A Custom Display Case Cabinet

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Grandpa’s Cabinets gets requests often for cabinets and display cases that are not in the norm for what we do.  This isn’t a problem most times and this was no exception to that.  A very good customer commissioned me to build a custom display case in my kit format to house a very large, very old antique sail ship for his condo in southern Florida.  After learning the dimensions needed, I realized it was probably going to be the largest ever ordered.  Once we confirmed the dimensions needed, I got to work on his order and completed it in two weeks and as agreed, I even delivered it personally to St. Augustine because it was too large when packed to be shipped by UPS or any conventional means.

About two weeks later, I received a phone call stating that he needed a cabinet to place this on because he had no furniture large enough with a big enough footprint to comfortably hold the cabinet!  He even had an architect friend design a cabinet with storage to do just that and here I go with another challenge and project to fix a situation.

 
Cabinet rough 1

I began construction in solid oak per his request of a simple cabinet.  Here you can see the design starting to take shape.  The base has a toe kick at the very bottom with wheels mounted just inside and just high enough to allow movement but not be seen from a distance.  The sides and divider inside are of furniture grade oak plywood secured with glue and dadoes for strength and support.  The top was made to look like it is about 2″ thick by inserting plywood into the middle of a framed cover of solid oak.

 

Cabinet framed up without doors

Here is the cabinet completed in the rough without the doors inserted yet.  You can see the thickness of the top and the front framing of solid oak which gives this a truly furniture quality look.

 

 

Cabinet rough complete b4 finish

After mounting the doors and hardware and application of 4 topcoats of oil based polyurethane this cabinet took shape very nicely.  The finish I choose is satin in gloss for cabinets like this because I feel it looks more appealing to the eye and doesn’t show dust as fast as a gloss would.  I never choose flat because I just don’t think it brings out the grains in oak well.  Now it was on to delivery time for this piece of furniture and a look at how it will all be once assembled.  I rarely get to see completed work so this was much anticipated.

 

 

Cabinet 1

I delivered the cabinet to the customer and realized he hadn’t assembled the display kit as of yet so I got to do it all for him.  He wanted to use this as a sort of room divider in his condo and I feel it worked well for it’s intended purpose.  After moving the cabinet into position, I proceeded to assemble and clean the display kit base and acrylic panels and get the ship mounted and set.  This case and cabinet overall is about 48″ long by 29″ wide and sits about 7 feet high together just to give some idea of size.  I’m very proud of how the entire project came out and the customer was overwhelmingly pleased as well.  If you have any need for a custom display case to display your works of art or models, never hesitate to contact me.  Ron Baluch,  www.grandpascabinets.com or give a call with questions at (586)506-2222 and for a fast quote, go to the “request a quote” spot on my website.

Another Great Customer Comment

Grandpa’s Cabinets just recevied another glowing customer comment for a custom display case:

I spent much of my spare time last year working on the Revell 1/400 model of the Queen Mary 2.  My wife and I had crossed the Atlantic on the ship and it is a fond part of our shared memory.  As I neared completion I began searching for a display case on the web.   After comparing the options (construction, cost, etc.) I decided to purchase from Grandpa’s Cabinets.  It was one of the best choices I ever made in purchasing over the web.   Ronald Baluch at Grandpa’s Cabinets crafted a fine acrylic and oak case for my model (it got a strong thumbs up in terms  of construction and value from someone who works at a major display case firm).   More importantly, Ron provided extraordinary customer service — great shipping  and answers to all of my questions.  He is a proud (deservedly so) craftsman who values his customers.   I will be building another ship this summer and it will end up in another of Ron’s fine cases.

Dr. John J. Grabowski

Model Display Kit – Top Lighting

Shown in the photo here is a display case constructed to display a large model of an aircraft carrier a customer requested. The model was ordered completed and a high quality display case was needed to display this work of art. I explained that my work was of furniture quality and could be proudly displayed in any room of any home in any setting proudly.

model display kit light

This case was determined to be too large to be built in the conventional method, which is to have a solid oak or other hardwood base and an all acrylic cover with no hardwood trim. This happens when because of the overall size, the case would be too large when packed to fit within the guidelines of UPS for size or the danger of damage during shipping because of size becomes an unavoidable problem. So, with that in mind, I suggested this model be housed in a display case kit. I used red oak as the hardwood of choice and finished it in a dark walnut stain by Cabot with two topcoats of a clear satin polyurethane.

model display kit light

My kit cases are unique in that they require no tools, glues or screws to assemble, and just fit together and the case becomes self-supporting when assembled. The kit comes with everything and can be assembled in minutes easily by one person. In this case, the customer surprised me with a unique idea. He wanted light to be shined on the model, and decided to investigate using an aquarium fixture placed on the top of the case. I discussed this idea with him, and we decided to place some spacers between the light and the top acrylic cover to prevent any heat from warping or damaging the acrylic cover.

model display kit light

model display kit light

I think this case and model really proudly shows off a modeler’s art as well as making it a piece that anyone would be proud to display in a living room or den or museum if that’s needed. Hope you agree and if you have a need for a large case and want a price on your project, contact ron@grandpascabinets.com and I’ll get right back to you

 

Frank Losquardo USS Wasp

At Grandpa’s Cabinets, we get to see a lot of beautiful ships that have a lot of history.  I recently built a mirror display case for Frank Losquardo – Seaman First class on the USS WASP.  Frank received the model as a gift for his 90th birthday and honors his service to his country.

From a craftsman viewpoint, the mirror display casewas a difficult one to build but it came out great and it was exactly what the customer wanted.

This was a difficult case to build and it means a lot to the customer that it came out exactly as he wanted

USS Wasp

 

USS Wasp

USS Wasp

USS Wasp

USS Wasp

 

David Steckel USS Missouri

The following USS Missouri model is from David Steckel.  The Missouri was ordered by the US Navy in 1940 and was commissioned on June 1944.

It looks great in our custom display case!

USS Missouri

USS Missouri by David Steckel

USS Missouri Close Up

 

Bobby Poole Battleship Missouri

We recently received a few photos of our mirror display case from Bobby Poole and one heck of a great testimonial.

mirror display case

Ron, the case arrived today in perfect condition. The workmanship is very well done especially the delicate work of forming the acrylic edges and joining corners. Spectacular!  I inserted the Battleship Missouri and it immediately gave me a sense of what the total presentation will be like. It encourages me to build in even more detail into the model itself.

Thank you for the prompt and professional service. I have a collection of Brass locomotives that I will be asking you to build cases for soon. I look forward to the relationship.

– Bobby Poole

Mirror Display Case

Mirror Display Case

USS Kirk

We just received a few pictures of the USS KIRK handsomely displayed in a Grandpa’s Cabinet model display case

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USS Kirk

USS Kirk

She and her commander, Capt. Paul Jacobs, USN, (Ret) are now featured in a US Navy produced film, (shown on PBS), on their exploits in saving some 30,000 South Vietnamese during the final stages of the Vietnam war.

Civil War Monitor by David Nanberg

One of our customers, David Nanberg, recently sent us a photo of his Civil War Monitor model.  The model is set in a mirror display case constructed by Grandpa’s Cabinets.

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“The members of my ship modeling club were very impressed with the case as well as the model.” – David Nanberg