How to Build a Model Display Case

By Michael Straessle
This model car needs a display case.

Building models is among the favorite pastimes of many people. Whether the interest is cars, airplanes or sculptures, model display cases are the best way to show them off. For the model enthusiast, a clear display case offers the advantage of seeing the model from all four sides. Plexiglas is the best option for building a clear model display case, but it should be at least ¼-inch thick. Plexiglas comes with a protective film on it that should remain in place until you've completed the project. This will keep fingerprint marks to a minimum.

Place two of the four pieces of 12 by 16 by ¼-inch Plexiglas on a worktable. Put one of the L-brackets on one of the long edges 1 inch from the corner so that the top of it is even with the edge. Draw the hole onto the Plexiglas and drill the hole with the battery-powered drill (or a variable-speed drill on its lowest setting) using the appropriate drill bit for the bolts needed for the selected brackets.

Repeat the last part of Step 1 on the other corners of the two pieces of Plexiglas. Set one bracket on one of the holes. Insert a washer on the bolt and bolt through the Plexiglas. Slip a washer over the other end of the bolt, followed by the nylon locknut. Install the other brackets in the same manner.

Lay the other two pieces of 12 by 16 by ¼-inch Plexiglas on the worktable. Place one of the two pieces with the brackets on top of one of these pieces. Align the top of the Plexiglas with the brackets, with the edge of the piece under it.

Draw the hole for the brackets onto the Plexiglas and drill the holes accordingly. Secure the brackets to the Plexiglas with the bolt, washer and nut as you did in Step 2. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to create the model display box without the ends.

Set one of the two pieces of 12 by 11-½ by-¼-inch Plexiglas into one end of the box. Use the masking tape to hold it even with the end of the box and drill pilot holes with the 1/16-inch drill bit. Penetrate only ½ inch into the end piece. Secure it with the 1/16 by ¾-inch chrome screws.

Measure from the 12-inch edge of the remaining 12 by 11-½ by ¼-inch Plexiglas and make a mark at 1 inch. Next, measure from the 11-½-inch edge and make a mark at 5-¾ inches on the 1-inch mark. Drill a hole for the knob and install it.

Install the CRL clear continuous hinge on the other 11-½-inch edge according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Secure the door to the display case via the hinge.


Clean the holes after each drilling to remove the Plexiglas shavings.


Wear goggles to protect your eyes while drilling.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.