Travel Saver Shadowbox

Save money for a vacation – and display mementos once you return – with these creative frames.

5 col

Difficulty: Intermediate

19" × 19" Shadowbox (or size of your choice)
Print or photograph of vacation destination to fit shadowbox
Matte board to fit shadowbox in color of your choice
Stencil letters set
Cutting board
Craft knife
Metal ruler
Spray adhesive
Drill with ¼" drill bit
Extra-fine-grit sandpaper block
Glass cleaner
Dry rag
White painter’s tape
12" × 12" × 2" Drill block (or scrap lumber)


1. Decide on a destination for which to make a Travel Saver Shadowbox. We chose Hawaii for one box and Buenos Aires for another

Adding Destination Name to Matte Board

2. Decide where to place the name of the chosen destination on the matte board. Using a ruler and pencil, draw a light line across the matte board at the place chosen for the destination name. This will be the guideline for placing stenciled letters in the next step

Expert Tip: If the destination name has more than one word, it can be spelled on two lines. Make a second light line beneath the first, leaving enough space for the height of the stencil letters.

3. Place the middle letter of the destination name on middle of the pencil line. This will help to ensure the name is properly centered. Trace around the letter. For “HAWAII” the middle letter was “W”

4. Continue placing the remaining stencil letters on either side of the middle letter and tracing them until the whole name is spelled out

5. Once the name is spelled out, place the matte board on a cutting board. Using a metal ruler and a sharp craft knife, carefully cut out the stenciled letters

6. After the letters are all cut out, turn the matte board over and lightly brush the surface with an extra-fine-grit sandpaper block to remove any fuzzy matte board left over from removing the letters

Adding the Destination Print

Note: The destination print will be added directly to the backboard of the shadowbox and will be seen through the cutout letters once the shadowbox is reassembled.

7. Remove the backboard from the shadowbox. In a well-ventilated area, apply spray adhesive all over the inside surface of the backboard. Wait one to two minutes for the glue to get tacky, and then carefully place the destination print onto the backboard. Press out any trapped air bubbles with your fingers, starting in the center and pushing the bubbles out to the sides

Cutting an Opening in the Shadow Box

Note: Steps 8–15 will create a rectangular opening in the top of the shadowbox so money can be dropped in like a piggybank.


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8. Carefully remove the glass and inner frame from the shadowbox and set to one side

9. Using a ruler and pencil, mark the center point along the top edge of the shadowbox. For a 19" × 19" frame, the middle point along the top edge will be 9½"

10. Measure 2" from both sides of the center mark from step 9, and mark these positions with a pencil. You will now have three pencil marks in a row. These three marks will be used to make pilot holes in the next step

11. Place the drill block on the edge of the work surface, and place the top of the shadowbox over it. Using a drill with a ¼" bit, drill a pilot hole through each of the pencil marks from steps 9 and 10

12. Lift up the shadowbox, and set the bottom of it on the drill block. Using a jigsaw, carefully cut out a rectangle shape towards the back of the shadowbox using the pilot holes from step 11 as entry points for the jigsaw blade

13. Now that the shadowbox is cut, the inner frame also needs to be cut. Place the inner frame back in the shadowbox. Use a pencil to trace the rectangle opening onto the inner frame. Remove the inner frame from the shadowbox

14. Place the inner frame on the edge of the work surface. Using a jigsaw, carefully cut out a piece of the inner frame along the pencil marks from step 13

Reassembling the Shadowbox

15. Carefully clean both sides of the glass with glass cleaner and a dry rag. Place the glass back into the shadowbox

16. Place the inner frame back in the shadowbox, lining up the cut sections. Secure the inner frame in place with short pieces of painter’s tape adhered to the shadowbox

17. Place the matte board with the destination name face down into the shadowbox. Keep in mind the rectangular opening is at the top of the shadowbox when placing the matte board

18. Place the backboard with the destination print on top of the matte board. Press down the metal pegs around the back of the frame to secure all the layers in place

19. Start filling up your shadowbox with money to help pay for your next trip!

Bonus Step: Once you return from your trip, open up the shadowbox and display trip memorabilia, such as destination tickets, foreign coins, photos, etc. Attach them to the inside of the shadowbox with glue. Close the shadowbox again. Your Travel Saver Shadowbox is now a Memorabilia Shadowbox!

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