This is a long overdue post going back to July when I completed a custom-made shadow box out of cherry for my client at I had made the original prototype out of some scraps of maple using dovetails, but I wasn’t quite happy with their look – they seemed a little too rustic for the intended application – and so I went with splined miter joints instead.

After the pieces were cut and planed to size, I ran a groove along the bottom inside edge to hold the plywood backing. I thought about using a simple rabbet to contain the plywood, but then I would need something to secure it and I wasn’t sure if the typical framing supplies would be strong enough.

The pieces were then mitered and cleaned up on a shooting board for a precise fit. Wish I had more photos of the process but I was trying to get the project done.

This is the completed project, finished in several coats of shellac. I managed to find a wonderful cherry plywood for the backing.

Here’s a close up of one of the splined miter joints, which add so much strength to the whole piece. I used sapele for the splines which stands out in contrast to the lighter cherry.

And the finished product with the artwork added, which I thought came out beautifully.

I used some wedges in the back to tighten up the plywood since there was about a 1/32″ discrepancy between the plywood and the width of the grooves.

If you would like one of these, please contact me through the website, as these are a custom made item. Or visit to order an art panel with custom shadow box.