Author Topic: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case  (Read 439 times)

Offline Dave

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Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« on: July 24, 2021, 08:21 PM »
Check out the backlit Death Star display case I finally finished up in my basement Star Wars storage area.  Notice the 3.75" figure on the top shelf.  I've got a *ton* of room I've got to plan out how to fill out with my collection. 


Offline JediJman

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2021, 03:05 PM »
This looks so awesome.  Totally worth the time and effort to get it done right!
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Offline Jedi Idej

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2021, 08:02 PM »
ooh la la. Can't wait to see it populated.

Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2021, 11:39 PM »
Nice work!
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Offline Nicklab

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2021, 10:34 AM »
That looks fantastic!  Care to share any of the construction details?
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Offline P-Siddy

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2021, 11:02 AM »
That thing is beautiful, Dave.  Nice work.  I'd also would love to see WIP pics if you have some.

Offline Dave

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Re: Dave's Backlit Death Start Display Case
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2021, 11:24 AM »
That looks fantastic!  Care to share any of the construction details?

I'll share what I can, but I didn't really document the steps in photos at all.  I will say that there are a handful of fantastic YouTube videos and other web sites where people have done some really amazing things that I reviewed to get ideas.  Its not really my thing to do maker videos, documented photos, etc.

I'll also be glad to answer any direct questions people have if they want to give it a go.  I'm a little handy with tools, but certainly not a skilled woodworker or craftsman, so its definitely doable for those with only marginal skills and some standard tools.

I built my shelves to custom fit my available space, hide some pipes, and get wide enough to get some big items like a BMF on them.  I looked extensively for different stuff at retail, second hand stores focused on retail displays, and just couldn't find anything that would be close to the right dimensions.  Ultimately my display is about 7' by 7' and 30" deep, with a small 7' by 2' shelf tucked in to hide some piping.

I did check in to having some people build this for me and the price tag came in a little over $10k.  I didn't keep great track of all the receipts, but this wasn't super cheap to do myself either.  Probably about $2k.  Most things were fairly inexpensive, but the acrylic shelves ($950) and cable supports ($450) for the shelves in front were the most expensive parts.  I debated changing the design to use 2x2s in front to hold the shelves, but opted for a cooler totally open look and bit the bullet and bought the cables.

So it wasn't cheap.  If you're good with Ikea shelves I would definitely go that route.  I just wanted something much larger and backlit so that when it gets filled up you can still hopefully see what's in there.  I was tempted to just build lightboxes behind Ikea shelves and not use their cheap fiberboard backers, but I still wasn't happy with the dimensions I could find for their shelves.  It was also COVID lockdown and I had some spare time to research, plan, and build.

Materials:
- 1/4" acrylic shelves - lighter than glass, but glass may be a better choice for smaller shelves.  Custom cut and beveled by a local acrylic company.  It really wasn't much more expensive than HomeDepot and I got the exact size I wanted.  Acrylic does scratch pretty easy, but I figure plastic toys wouldn't be too rough.  They're also fairly bendy, so if I put much weight on them (statues, mini-busts) it might not have been the best choice.  I probably should have researched glass choices a bit more, but ended up going with acrylic as I figured the weight from the glass would be problematic for the cable system.
- Cable support system - EZ Wire from Gyford Standoff Systems (www.standoffsystems.com), bought through a reseller (www.jpplus.com).  I'll be glad to share the exact items I bought as this was fairly confusing.
- Frame is 2x4s
- Grey facia board is painted 4x8 hardboard ($9 each at Lowe's/HD).  Primed and painted (I can look up the specific color.  Matched to to Space Walls in Sherwin Williams).
- Death Star template of the cut hardboard.  I looked at a ton of reference photos and froze Rogue One and ANH to get screen grabs to understand patterns and sizes.  I can send the template I came up with if anyone cares.  Basically 3" diameter circles and connected openings.  If you watch the videos online people did this themselves with laser guides, grid paper, hole saws, jigsaws, and a **** ton of sanding.  People said they spent months on this step alone.  I found a local tradeshow company with a 4x8 CNC machine (you could find a local Maker group too) and paid them $120 to do it for me with my supplied template.  If I don't say so myself, pure f***ing genius.  Saved me a ton of time and I'm sure I would have messed up enough times to lead me to kill myself.  Like I said before, I'm no master craftsman so I knew where to phone a friend for help on this one.  I still had to sand it, but that wasn't too bad.  Attached with a bard nail gun, although some people glued or used magnets (seemed way too complicated but very cool).
- Frosted acrylic to cover the cut hardboard openings.  Purchased 3'x2' sections 0.100” thick from HomeDepot ($30 a section).  I needed a bunch of these so it added up to $300.  I tried scoring and snapping these but failed miserably and just cut them with my table saw which worked quite well.  Glued with Gorilla glue to the hardboard.
- Dimmable LED puck lights on the top and bottom are something basic from Amazon (I can look up the model if anyone cares - about $20 for each set - top and bottom)
- Used dimmable white LED lights to back light the lightboxes (about $20 a set - 5 sets).  I actually put them on the front wall and faced them towards the back wall where I glued aluminum foil across the hardboard to reflect the light in a more even and diffuse way.
- Black powder coated screws and black powder coated angle brackets from Lowe's ($2 each, so it added up after awhile).

The tools I used:
- Table saw
- Mitre saw (didn't do any fancy cuts so a circular saw would have worked too)
- Cordless drill - I did buy some hole saw bits but only used them for the puck lights
- Handheld belt sander
- Sandpaper
- Bard nail gun to attach the front facia boards
- Levels
- Primer, paint, screws, and a few angle brackets to join a few of the sections

I spent a little extra time getting the frame really square (multiple levels and a shim or two) and I'm glad I did.  It would have been an extra big headache getting all the facia fitting right if it wasn't square.  As it was I still had to sand/shave off some of the hardboard in spots to get everything fitting and looking good.

Ultimately it turned out really good. I was worried my marginal skills were going to really show through, but its amazingly good.  I can see some blemishes and other not perfect joins, but if you take a couple of steps back you can't really see them.  I won't ever be confused with a master craftsman, but I'm not trying to impress anyone with my build skills - hopefully they'll be more impressed with my Star Wars collection and not notice any minor flaws in the build.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2021, 12:30 PM by Dave »