I needed a way to display my unframed prints at fairs and shows and also in gift shops where my work is stocked. I searched online for table top print browsers and retail display solutions and looked into old apple crates and custom made wooden boxes but nothing was right …or it cost more than I was willing to pay!
I wanted a rustic style box that was not too deep (so the prints would stay fairly vertical) and that was low at the front (so as not to obscure the prints) and higher at the back (to support the prints from behind) … and the right size for my prints… so quite specific requirements then! I decided my only cost effective option was to make them myself.
Here’s how they turned out…
If you’d like to find out how I made them, read on! I’m a not a skilled woodworker and it took me a day to make 5 browsers.
Here’s the tools I used:
A hand saw, tape measure, pencil, set square and drill (with 3mm drill bit for pilot holes and screwdriver head) plus various wood screws… sizes 3.5 and 4 and 30mm/40mm long.. and some rough sandpaper and sanding block or an electric sander.
Here’s what I did:
I visited my local wood recycling yard where for the princely sum of £12 I picked up some lengths of pallet wood – about 16mm thick and 100mm wide and some 20 x 44mm battens. They were nice and rustic looking!
The internal dimensions of my table top browser are 500mm wide by 250mm deep so for each box I cut the following lengths of wood:
3 x 500mm: 1 front and 2 back lengths
2 x 250mm: 2 sides on the bottom layer
2 x 266mm: 2 sides on the top layer
5 x 282mm: slats for the bottom
4 x 250mm lengths from the 20 x 44mm batten for the uprights
First off I screwed together 2 x 500mm lengths and 2 x 250mm sides to make the base frame. I drilled pilot holes first to reduce stress on the wood and reduce the risk of it splitting.
An extra pair of hands is useful to hold the pieces together but not essential. Next I screwed the slats onto the bottom. Again I drilled pilot holes in the slats before screwing them in.
Then I screwed together the three sides for the back and sides of the top layer … I used the remaining 500mm length and the 2x 266mm sides… it was a bit wonky but so long as it’s roughly square it doesn’t matter once it’s screwed into place.
Next I attached the uprights to the box. I placed each one in position and marked with a pencil where to drill the pilot holes… making sure I avoided the other screws that are holding the frame together. I then drilled the pilot holes and screwed the uprights in place with 2 screws per upright into the bottom frame.
Now turning the box on a short side, I inserted the 3 sided top layer that I made earlier. It didnt sit very square but this was rectified as it was screwed together. I put one screw in… no pilot holes this time… drilling through the frame and into the batten upright. Then I turned the box onto the other short side and holding the top layer into place, put another screw through the frame and into the batten.
I put 4 screws in each end – 2 into each batten – as shown below.
Now all that was left was to add my logo. I thought the best way to do this would be by stencilling. I had some Mylar (thin plastic used to make stencils) but cutting out the small font and the Dog was very hard, especially as my Mylar was probably a bit on the thick side.
I looked online and found plenty of places who would laser cut any design into a stencil for you but it was Friday afternoon and I didn’t want to wait (or spend the money) so being a printmaker I decided to cut my logo into a scrap piece of lino and use that to apply it to the boxes.
It worked pretty well though it needed a bit of touching up with a small brush in places where the wood was too rustic!
Hope you like the idea… I’d love to see your solutions to displaying prints at fairs too.