Wargaming Tradecraft: Display Cabinet plus Lighting


Display Cabinet plus Lighting

Recently I (finally) purchased a display cabinet. I'd been looking for one for a while, seeing them around $80. (Which is roughly what this went for) The IKEA options were a little small and cheap-looking, but had built in lights. I found this one at JYSK. (Not that I can find it on the website)

After it sat unassembled for a few days while I was under the weather, I came home from work to find my awesome wife had put it together for me. It looked great, all glass with aluminium posts and a wooden base/top.

What it didn't have, was a light.

I knew this ahead of time, but now it was time for doing a little modification.

Below is how I had to start - it's nice, but it needs a big'ol light somehow. The folks happened to be visiting soon after it went up, and we wandered a few stores looking for options. The plan was a small round pot-light of some kind, but most of them had HUGE backings. We also wanted to keep costs down.

 We settled on a small light that will just turn upside down and sit in a hole that will be drilled in the top wood piece.

Taking it apart and mounting it upside down was an option, but we also wanted to save space inside the cabinet.
The hole's got to be centered.

First, measure each side and mark the half-way point.

I used a square (the metal thing in the middle photo on the left) to mark the center of each side and from them mark the center of the area.

The reason I used a square, is it's got a firm, flat, metal edge that you can push against the wood. This ensures your point in the center of the area is straight in, rather than crooked.

Measure the center point from each side... just to make sure you didn't deviate.
From the pencilled center point, I use a metal punch and hammer a dimple into the surface of the wood. This gives the drill bit somewhere to sit and start, rather than slide around.

A punch is just a cylinder of metal with a pointed end. Kind of like a big nail, except it blunts quickly since you don't want to hammer right through the surface.
The big orange thing on the front of my drill is called a "hole saw". There's also a drill bit down the center to cut a pilot hole and keep things steady. The outside of the orange cylinder is serrated and cuts the hole.

Since any furniture you buy these days is made from cheap wood, there was some expected tearing.

Carefully use a knife to clean up the edges.

This is the light that's going in the top of the cabinet. Look how nicely it fits. Probably could have cut the hole a little smaller, but oh well. This is a low profile way of mounting, without a giant ugly electrical box sitting above the cabinet, or an expensive internal solution.

This light has a safety feature since it's meant to sit upward, like in the above photo. A small metal tab turns the light off if the light tips over, preventing the heat it generates from causing any fires.

Since this light will be sitting in a hole and couldn't tip, I used some metal strapping to defeat the safety. That said, the weight of the light holds the strapping on, so if the whole cabinet were to tip, the strapping would come off.


As a final note, don't cheap out - take the little extra time and clean dirt, dust and smudges off the glass before you fill it up.


  1. Looking good! Does the light reach down to the bottom when the top two shelves are packed with minis though?

  2. Nicely done. I've often thought of getting something but I don't really have any show pieces. I need to get something more...practical I guess. All my stuff sits in foam trays so I can easily swap them out and into my bag before I head off to play each week. Displaying a bunch of foam trays in a cool setup like that doesn't seem to be worthwhile for me.

  3. @Megapope: You bet it does, as long as you don't PACK the shelves with minis. Presuming you actually want to display them, you won't... if you pack them in, then nothing stands out.

    @Thor: Since I paint a range of stuff for diversity, I've got models to throw in there. Plus my Postapocalyptibuggy, (Which admittedly does block some of the lower light) and the wedding cake topper my mom sculpted depicting my wife and my WoW characters.

  4. Looks like a very solid display case. Most jobs aren't really that hard to do if you have the right tools. I'm working on building up my own tool collection- can't be a real man until I have one haha.


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