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Build a Gun/Trophy Case

Cabinet, Woodworking, Woodworking - Directory December 21, 2012 Sonia

By Monte Burch

This classic walnut gun cabinet safely stores guns, ammunition and valuables while adding beauty to your décore.


A lockable display case can be used to store and display guns, trophies or treasured heirlooms. The case shown is made of walnut, one of the most beautiful woods, and a classic for this type of project. The walnut was grown on the author’s farm, harvested and air-dried for about five years. The bottom doors are beautifully figured crotch walnut. Oak, pecan or cherry could also be used.

The case is constructed in two parts, the bottom and the top sections, and the two fastened together. The top display portion has a keyed lock. You may wish to lock the bottom as well. The top portion is designed to store and display long guns, the bottom for ammunition and accessories. The case shown also features a locking storage vault anchored to the inside. This can be used to store and protect a handgun or other valuables.


Included is a GunVault Mini Vault that features a computer-operated, touch-control panel that opens the spring-loaded vault door in seconds at a touch of your fingers with your own private security code. The Auto Lock protects children and defeats intruders. The GunVault is battery powered, also comes with backup key (

Although the construction appears to be classic casework, new techniques and tools make it much easier to build. Techniques include biscuit joinery as well as pocket-hole joinery and a new Raised Panel Door System from Woodline USA.

Because several “wide” boards are needed, first step in construction is to plane all rough wood to the same dimension, in this case 3/4 inch. This makes final sanding and smoothing of the glued-up boards much easier. Surfaced boards can also be purchased. You will still need to joint one edge smooth in order to rip to the sizes needed. This can be done on a jointer or with a hand-held power planer.

The GunVault Mini Vault anchored inside the bottom of the case safely stores a handgun and/or valuables. It features touch-operated security for instant accessibility. For more information, vist

By installing shelf pins and shelves, the cabinet becomes a “trophy”case, bookcase or lockable memorabilia storage case.

Beginning with the bottom section, rough-cut the boards to length and width to make up the sides. Lay all boards for one side on a smooth flat surface and mark across their face edges for the biscuits. Letter or number the boards with the same number or letter on joining edges. This makes it easier to assemble when gluing up. Set the biscuit joiner to half the thickness of the boards and cut the biscuits.

Place newspaper on a workbench top or other smooth flat surface. Position the clamps in place and lay the boards down on the clamps, making sure they align properly. Then, beginning with one board, place glue in the biscuit holes. In this case Titebond Dark Wood Glue was used to go with the dark walnut. Place biscuits in the holes. Place glue in the biscuit holes of the board edge as well as on the joining edge. Continue gluing and adding biscuits until all boards are ready to clamp. Beginning at each end, pull the boards together with the clamps, making sure the biscuits align. Also make sure all four corners of the glued-up board are down flat on the clamps. Then add clamps between the two end clamps until a bit of glue is squeezed out along the entire joint lines. Allow to dry overnight.

Wide boards are created by using a biscuit joiner to cut slots for biscuits.

First step in construction is to surface plane all pieces that are to be joined to the same thickness.

The front face frame of the bottom cabinet is assembled as one piece, and then fastened to the sides. In classic construction, this would be joined with mortise-and-tenon joints. A faster and simpler method is to use pocket-hole joints with screws and glue. Place an end of the uprights in the pocket-hole jig and bore holes. Bore holes in the opposite end, and then repeat for all uprights. Place the pieces on a set of clamps, place glue on the ends of the uprights and clamp together. Use a carpenter’s square to make sure the assembly is square and all corners are down snug on the clamps. Then fasten solidly together with Kreg hardwood screws. Allow to set overnight.

A belt sander or drum sander is used to remove squeezed out glue and smooth the joints.

Biscuits are installed and boards are then glued and clamped using Titebond Dark Wood Glue.

Smooth the glued-up bottom sides, removing any squeezed out glue and irregularities in the joints. This can be done with a portable belt sander, power planer, drum sander or with a hand plane. Rout a 1/4-by-1/4-inch rabbet on the inside back edges of the sides. Make sure both inside and outside surfaces are smooth. Cut the bottom sides to final width and height and sand smooth inside and out.

Pocket-hole techniques make it easy to assemble the case, beginning with the face frame for the bottom section. Bore the holes in the uprights.

Progressively finer grits of sandpaper are used to smooth all boards.

To assemble the bottom section, first drill pocket holes in the inside front edges of the sides as well as the top edges. Then drill pocket holes in the inside edges of the top piece of the frame and the top back support. These will be used to join the top to the bottom section. Apply glue to the front edges of the sides and clamp the front frame to the sides. Install the Kreg hardwood screws to further anchor the parts together. Cut 3/4-by-3/4-inch wood cleats and fasten to the inside of the sides and the bottom front face frame. These are used to anchor and support the case bottom. Cut the case bottom from 3/4-inch plywood. Note it is cut the same width as the sides, less the 1/4-inch rabbet. Fasten the bottom in place down on the cleats with glue and screws. Fasten the upper back cross-support in place with pocket-holes into the upper edges of the sides. Again, make sure the case is assembled square. Allow to dry overnight, then sand the sides and face edges smooth as well as the front joints of the face frame.