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Model Cars Under Glass: How To Display Large Models

Aug 6, 2008
Do you build or collect large scale model cars just to find that they end up sitting on a stray shelf collecting dust? Do you wonder if there is anything that you could do that would help display them in a much more enjoyable manner? No problem! You can build a display case to house them in. If you have ever spent much time in a museum then you might have noticed that the right display can make all the difference between a 'good' and 'great'.

First, you will want to decide exactly how many of your model cars you want to display in the case. This will help you to determine the overall size of the shelf section of your case. You will also have to decide if you want to add in little touches to make it more of a scene than just a static display. This could mean adding fuel pumps and gas attendants or some other such model figures to help add a bit of realism to your cars.

Once you have decided this then you can start thinking about how much space you need. For example if you will be displaying three 1:8 scale cars and they are going to work together in a scene then you might need a board roughly roughly three feet wide and between five and seven feet long. This will give you enough space to place your model cars three wide and angle them slightly so that they are not placed straight across.

The best sort of board for a display such as this is 1/2 inch plywood. It can be stained and made to look nice once it has a finish on it. The next thing you must do is to decide how high you want it to stand. For support, you need to frame the underside with 2x4 lumber. Pine is fine because when you are finished you will not be able to see it. Screw the plywood onto the wide side of the 2x4 making sure that each piece you cut will fit into place before you screw it down. Use 4 inch screws so that they will be long enough for the next step of the project. Make sure that you do not go all the way through the plywood and 2x4 underneath. You just want the bare tip poking through so you can easily start into the next section of wood when you are ready. Now you are ready to finish the framework underneath.

If you want your display about waist high then you will have to base your measurements on your own waist. Mine for example is about 36 inches high. I would need to subtract the width of the top of the frame and the bottom of the frame and the distance left would be the length of the 2x4 supports I would need to cut. In this case it would be 32 inches each.

If you want your display to hold a good deal of weight then it is a good idea to add extra supports on each side. Line your 2x4 sections up one at a time with the screws that you first installed in the top section and screw them on. The screws should be be long enough to pull the parts together without going all the way through.

Once you have the legs on, you can install the bottom section. The bottom will basically be the same as the framed section of the top part consisting of four 2x4s lying flat and screwed into the legs above them.

Next you are ready to add the side panels. All you have to do is to cut plywood to fit over the sides of your display base. Make sure that you measure each section before you cut your plywood. It is better to measure three times and cut once than the opposite. Screw them into place with some 1/2 inch screws and you are done with the base, other than adding any decorative trim that you might want.

If you want to finish your plywood to give it color you can now do so. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation and wear respiratory protection while painting the plywood.

If you want to cover your model cars then you can either purchase Plexiglas sheets (which you can cut and make into a box shape to set over your display), or you can get fancy and have a glass cutter cut out individual panes and then you can frame them in on top of your display. Either way, your model car display will look great and you can proudly show it to others.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for model cars, model trains, and model trucks. You will find excellent hobbying and trading resources here for model car memorabilia, model trains, and model trucks.
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