Shadow box + expanded steel sheet + s-hooks = jewelry organizer!

Not too long ago, my friend Trang mentioned wanting to make her own DIY jewelry organizer, and I was reminded of this project that’s been sitting on the back burner for years. If it weren’t for her, I might have totally forgotten.

I made this for my mom.



This is a summary of what I used, and I’ll explain a little more in the text below.

  • 11″ x 18″ shadow box – you can use any size
  • 12″ x 24″ expanded steel sheet, 18 gauge – this can be substituted for a sheet of aluminum radiator grille (more on this below)
  • .091 x 3/4 zinc heavy s-hooks – what you need may depend on the grille you choose
  • (Optional) Metal spray paint – I used a Rust-Oleum metallic bronze
  • (Optional) Point driver & points to secure the grille, if it’s not snug
  • Miscellaneous tools, described below



This project is pretty simple, and most of the work was spent trimming and painting that sheet of expanded steel.

Preparing your materials

I picked up an inexpensive  11″ x 18″ shadow box from a nearby HomeGoods store. I chose that size because it’s long enough to accommodate most necklaces, but other sizes may suit your needs.

I then looked for a radiator grille sort of metal sheet that would fit my shadow box. I initially wanted to get an aluminum cloverleaf-pattern grille (and there are other patterns to choose from, like Union Jack, elliptical, and Venetian), but I ended up choosing the expanded steel sheet for its sturdiness. What can I say? Sturdy industrial things somehow appeal to me.

TIP: I don’t regret my choice, but just as a heads-up, be aware that the expanded steel was actually kind of hard to deal with because it was pretty thick (18 gauge) and not easy to cut with what we had (my tinner snips can only handle up to 26 gauge). If you don’t have the equipment that can cut metal that thick or can’t get a sheet that exactly fits your box, I’d advise getting the aluminum grille instead!

Anyway, I needed some help trimming the expanded steel because I didn’t have the heavy-duty equipment needed, and anyway, my dad likes doing this kind of thing, too. He helped me cut the thing to size and sand down the sharp edges. (Thanks, Dad!) We used a combination of tinner snips (sheet metal scissors), a mallet (for flattening the sheet when it curled from cutting or sanding), a rotary sander, and a Dremel to get the job done.


This is tougher to cut through than it looks. Work gloves advised for sharp edges and grip.



We did the sanding on the garage floor because of the sparks. Again, work gloves advised!

It took a bit longer than these pictures would suggest. Each time we sanded it down, I checked the trimmed sheet with the shadow box to check the fit. We did run into some issues of the sheet not being equally expanded in all areas, so we couldn’t just cut down one seam. We had to do some creative trimming and sanding to get it looking okay.

TIP: If you use the aluminum sheet, I think you’d be able to skip all the sanding steps, and it’d be a lot easier to cut! The main disadvantage of aluminum is that it’s more easily bent out of shape, but hey, that’s what the mallet’s for!

Eventually, though, we were satisfied with the fit and smoothness. I also tested the S-hooks on it for fit, while I was at it. Because the shadow box I chose has a foam-padded burlap-covered backing for pinning things, it provided enough give to snugly hang an S-hook with the expanded steel sheet lightly flush against it.

TIP: S-hooks can be purchased in different sizes from the hardware section (with the nuts, bolts, screws, etc., from my experience) of a hardware/construction store, like Home Depot or Lowe’s. I like zinc because it’s resistant to corrosion.


Next, I took the sheet to the yard for some spray painting. I used a Rust-Oleum metallic spray enamel in a bronze/dark gold color, but really, any metal paint should do. You can definitely skip this step with aluminum, and you might be able to skip this step with the steel, but my sheet didn’t say it was stainless, so I painted it just to make sure it won’t corrode.


I spray painted into a box outside to contain the mess and minimize breathing in nasty fumes.


The rest of the project was a cinch, really. Once it was dry, I placed the painted expanded steel sheet into the shadow box. If it’s snug, you can just wedge it in there and leave it alone, but because I made it a little loose, I used a point driver and flexible points to secure the sheet to the inside of the box frame.


I used flexible points, just in case my mom ever feels like taking the metal sheet out and placing something decorative between the burlap and the grille. Otherwise, you can also use permanent points instead.


And, that’s it! All done and ready for hanging.

Let me know if you try this idea and how it works out for you!

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2 Responses so far.

  1. DaceyRose says:

    Nice work! ^_^ I’ve been wanting to do something like this myself…

  2. Mahamari says:

    Thanks! You should give it a go. It’s a fun project to make!

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