Inexpensive acrylic display box


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jan 7, 2005
Here is the situation: Customer doesn't want to spend alot. Actually customer is one of those very rich tightwads that won't spend much at all. He is a part owner of the shopping center I am in and part owner of the rest of the city, but wants to keep cost to about $50. Need to protect a hand carved bowl (I asked about this in an earlier thread about shadowboxes, but those ideas were too expensive). It is 9 1/2" wide X 3" high. I've checked around a few local places for display boxes, but I can't find anything the right size. Is a custom acrylic box from say, Gemini, going to cost way too much? Does anyone have any suggestions? In this situation, I just want to make him happy & get the &$#@ bowl out of the shop. I don't care about profit at this point.

Thanks for letting me grumble. And thanks in advance for any ideas.
There is always a ZIP Lock bag.

With a straight face tell this individual that a custom acrylic box will be $x.xx...Call Gemini and find out what the price will be before calling your landlord. Charging him cost or retail is your call.

It is the same think if he were looking for gasoline for $.29 a gal.
"Gee, Mr. Man. I need to keep my cost for rent here in this strip mall to $50.00 a month! I just can't spend more even though I know it's not FREAKIN' REALISTIC to ask!!!"

(sorry, it's been a slow day..)
Mecianne- While waiting for my wife to shop at Michaels yesterday, I browsed the framing area. They were selling display boxes in various sizes, looked rather good, and priced very reasonably. Normally wouldn't recommend this, but sounds like your client is putting you in a tight spot.
Don't let him bully you!
How about these? Acrylic cases for collectibles They have a 10x10x5 for $30. I found this site for a customer who wouldn't spend for custom. I let her order them, so i don't know about quality. Probably not the greatest but you get what you pay for......
Originally posted by Mecianne:
Here is the situation: Customer...wants to keep cost to about $50. Need to protect a hand carved bowl...In this situation, I just want to make him happy & get the &$#@ bowl out of the shop. I don't care about profit at this point.
Please don't take his order at a loss just to be nice, or to get him out of your face, or for any other reason. You are running a business and your landlord -- of all people -- should your need to do it profitably.

I say tell it like it is. And if he walks, he walks.
I actually went to Michael's today. I saw their display cases/shadowboxes. They did not have any display cases to fit. There was one "shadowbox" for about $20 that would probably work.. Only thing is now he wants acrylic?!?!?

I looked at the site. Might just work. Do you think or know if those can be hung on the wall or if they are just for tabletop display? Although you are probably right about the quality.

I know, I know. I have this personality flaw that totally clashes with being a retailer. I am a people pleaser. I framed a big map for him for about $130 several weeks ago. Just trying to keep that good customer service/word of mouth/relationship thing in tact. He is really nice, just not really into appreciating custom framing. I know I can't go broke trying to make customers happy. But I can quickly go broke if I don't try. Just want to exhaust all avenues before I say I can't/won't do it for around $50. I hate situations like this. :rolleyes:

thanks for the suggestions & advice, all.

I think framers should consider doing some acrylic fab. Nothing fancy, just simple boxes for potential income. I built my own gluing jig out of fine particle board shelving so I could roll my own. This box was the second or third I built. It is about 11” long with 1/4” walls and 1/8” hinged top (the top overhangs in the front a bit for ease in opening). There is less than $7 in material in it. I'd estimate it to sell at $35 - $55 as a custom job. It should take no more than an hour for the experienced fabricator to build as long as they don't sit around waiting on the solvent cement to set. :D

I've heard of acrylic box framing jobs selling for over $400 with $16 in acrylic used!
Nice clean job JohnR.

A frame shop or any other mfg/retail style shop has to charge in the area of $60 per hour or more. Your retail est is a bit low ($20-40 per hour).
I was accumulating some odd-shaped pieces of "scrap" Acrylite OP-3, so I decided to build some boxes. What else are you going to do with a bunch of 3"x32" pieces? Burn em?

I got the materials from a local plastics dealer, did a little reading on the web and began my new adventure.

I built three that turned out great and one (a big one) that ended up as a playpen for my daughter's gerbils.

At least they won't get a sunburn.

I would agree that everyone should build at least one Acrylic box. In my case, it helps me understand why I might pay Showcase acrylics a few hundred to do it for me.

BTW, a healthy adult gerbil has absolutely no trouble scaling a 5" acrylic wall. We had to add a run of itty-bitty razor wire around the top.
Perhaps the time spent is over estimated for an experienced builder. You have to glue a side, and go do something else as it dries, glue another side.... and so on. Still I don't think It could be cut, glued, polished in much less than 45 minutes. I can't see something like this sell for over $60 but ya never know...

One place to look for acrylic cases is on ebay. There are sellers who can fab the case the OP wanted for $30 shipped. I purchased one off ebay and the quality was fine. Check sellers feedback though.
Originally posted by JohnR:
...I don't think It could be cut, glued, polished in much less than 45 minutes. I can't see something like this sell for over $60 but ya never know...
Did you really mean to say $60 should be the high end of pricing in your example?

Considering materials, labor, overhead, and profit, $60 for a 45 minute job seems entirely inadequate, IMHO.
I frame and fab as a hobby. If time is worth that much to a business owning framer, then perhaps acrylic fab is not something a framer should dabble in. Acrylic fab shops should be able to build a box as the one I built for $35-55. They probably have the equipment and experience to build 'em quick as well.

OTOH, A person who pays hundreds for a quality framing job just might pay $70 or more for a custom box like that.
Originally posted by JudyN:
We just got in 4 Acrylic boxes from Showcase Acrylics ( Gemini) 12x12 inches 4 inches tall...... beautiful. They were $85. each and worth evey penny. We will double price and add fitting.
WOW! $85 each!
Did they have fancy wooden bases or something? I stopped building boxes after I couldn't sell any on ebay. The box shown above had no takers for $15. Now I store odds and ends in it.


Try to remember that for most of us here (and for Showcase Acrylics) framing is not a hobby. We have to make money on everything we do for our customers.

Now that I've become a home-based, part-time framer, I still need to be profitable or I can't justify the equipment, the inventory and the time that I might rather spend romping in the snow with my dog or playing Scrabble with my family.

Maybe when I'm truly retired I'll start building acrylic boxes again, but I seriously doubt it.
Ron amd John and all others I'd love to build those boxes and I vagely remember a class taught by Doug Highfield ( I think back in San Francisco ,18 years ago) in which he even showed a device made of electric chording and a plank with a groove in it,that allowed you to soften and bend acrylic sheets. However I have found the local supplier (Cadillac Plastics) cost more than I reasonably can mark them up and sell. I know some of you can, and for you I am happy. But the box sizes and prices I am speaking about are both a litle larger.

But even though I fully understand the need to make a profit to stay in buiness the ability to sell enough of them to do so can be seriously hampered by the "STICKER SHOCK" that the average consumer suffers when they see prices that exceed $100 or more ( sometimes much more LOL).

Just like some of the reactions we get ,to a consumer it's "Just a plastic Box".Yeah right! So why doesn't everyone make them? But the ability to sell them is directly proportional to the price the average consumer is willing to pay.
Can you supply me with contact info for Gemini/showcase acrylics?? I am looking for other ideas for displaying a bible

We just ordered an 11 x 11 x 10 box (OP3/UV) from Superior Acrylics. $50 range to us. Similar to Judy's comments.... worth every penny.

Superior Acrylic
5851 Fremont Street
Riverside, CA 92504
1-877-422-7954 toll free
1-951-343-8800 local
Just wanted to let you know I just got off the phone with Lois @ Superior. She was great. Custom made 12 1/4"x12 1/4"x4" with wooden base. $38.50 and she walked me through a great but simple way to mount the bowl. Appreciate the referral.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I tried to do the Zip Loc bag idea, but he wouldn't fall for it!!!!