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Donmar Creations

Hanging big shadow boxes


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Apr 24, 2015
Howdy, y'all!

I'm looking for some professional advice for hanging shadow boxes.

We just started on a rather large job (for us, anyway) with a bunch of big shadow boxes filled with golf clubs. These boxes will vary in size, but they'll average around 36" wide by 48" tall. They'll probably top out at about 75 pounds in weight (the average will be closer to 40 pounds). The backs of the shadow boxes will be plywood, and the actual box will be 1x4 lumber.

The walls are sheetrock with a stucco-type textured surface. I don't know what kind of studs they used, but it's going to be either metal (most likely) or wood studs.

These will be hung in high-traffic hallways. Most of the traffic will be adults, but there will be children there from time to time.

Although I will supply all mounting provisions, my customer will do the installation with their staff. I might "supervise" or consult for the installation, but my back simply won't allow me to do the work.

With all that in mind, what mounting hardware / methods would you recommend for this type of installation? The boxes need to be removable, but they also need to be very secure.

(I thought I asked something like this before, but a search didn't pull anything up about it.)


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Feb 16, 2007
I am assuming that 1" will be the width and 4" the depth?

My first thought is that, whatever hanging method is used that moulding is far too skinny for the job and some sort of reinforcement of the back will be necessary. If there are a couple of sturdy rails running across the frames these could provide anchor points for Z bars then a couple of Larson's "Secure-T" security fittings at the base would prevent anyone running off with them. You could use Z bars top and bottom but I would be worried about that thin wood as an anchor.

These links could get you started and, no doubt, your suppliers will have something similar.



David Hewitt

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Feb 26, 2009
A French Cleat would be ideal for this project. They can simply be made using 1x3 wood or a 1x6 cut in half, with a 30 degree angle. If you can, have them flush with your frame back, that way the frame will be flush on the wall.
Your plywood or masonite backing will tie the frame together well for added strength.
You could put cleats top and bottom for a very tight fit to the wall in high traffic areas.
(French Cleats are what is used to hang kitchen cabinets. Go to You Tube for instructions.)
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CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Dec 5, 2015
cleats if your frame is deep enough to accommodate them; z-bar if not. security bracket and t-screw on the bottom.


Apr 24, 2014
Cleats. You can use any type of wood - pine, medite - even good ply. The cleats can be as thin as 1/2 inch maybe even 3/8. Make sure to watch out for any bowing in walls. Hit as many studs as possible for back cleat, stagger your screws (2 per stud) and keep the back cleat straight - even if you have to use shims. Mostly glue for cleat to frame back. Recess the edges in from outer frame. If you can make the top cleat strong enough the bottom can be just be 2 small square bumpers mounted to frame back in the same thickness as the cleats. Might have to use anti-theft locks if needed.


Donmar Creations

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
May 19, 2000
You probably could hang these using one - or better, two - pairs of 1/2" x 2" mending plates. That is, on the side rails, place one pair a few inches down from the top, and another pair a few inches up from the bottom.

We've hung 8 ft. square frames by this method in hallways of the geology school at a local university, and it works very well. No special tools or hardware are needed, but since the mending plates rest vertically behind the frame, they are inconspicuous and hold the frame closer to the wall than most other hanging systems.

Also, there's a sort of faux-security feature to this method, since the frame has to be rotated to gain access to the screws in the wall. Lifting up doesn't work. for some installations, we've used tamper-resistant screws in the wall anchors. But in reality, if someone really wants to steal the frame, they'll just take some sheetrock with it.


Vermont Hardwoods solid wood picture frame molding