October 16, 2023
If you have earned a number of challenge coins over your life or career, you should think about a prominent and meaningful way to display them.
We’ve reviewed the best ways to order or build your own custom challenge coin case. The assembly instructions can be easy, but you can add more details during the design process to personalize your case. You can choose the right type of case that suits your needs.
If you want to take pride in how your challenge coins are displayed, putting in the work to build your own case is the perfect way to do that - we can help you choose and build the perfect model for your needs.
There are two main ways to acquire a case for your custom challenge coins: order one from a vendor, or make one yourself.
You can find a company or vendor who manufacture options for a production-grade military challenge coin display, or other memorabilia cases. The ordering process is easy, and companies will give customers choice options at every step from the first proof to extra details to the finishing process.
These are perfectly viable, and can be customized to suit your tastes based on size and design elements you choose as the backdrop for your custom coins. You can also contact a local vendor to add a personal touch with a custom idea that you may have in mind.
For those who have some tools and time available, you could take on a military challenge coin display as a production you do yourself.
This gives you the greatest control over how the challenge coin case is built and what details are used, and also gives you the pride and satisfaction of putting in the work - like you did for the challenge coins themselves.
Lots of websites and social media platforms can offer ideas and tutorials on how to build your own custom challenge coin case. Platforms like Pinterest can give you visual design ideas, as well as step-by-step instructions for key production elements and the design process.
You can also join a community forum of local craftsmen or a designer group who can give you pointers as well. They may be willing to offer a custom proof created just for your case, or images or artwork of the finished product with all the materials you’ll need.
If you’re interested in making more than one, take pictures of your process and join a local market to sell your cases as gifts.
If you’re interested in a simple challenge coin design for your case, here are some basic instructions. You can amend this process to suit your needs; many websites will offer images or artwork with every step of the process detailed out for you to follow.
First, you’ll need to gather the materials you’ll need to create the challenge coin case, as well as the tools you’ll use.
For most simple cases that don’t have any custom finishes, you’ll only need a few boards, tools to measure and mark your cuts, a saw, nails or a nail gun, wood glue, paint or stain, and a sander or sandpaper.
Think about how many custom challenge coins you want to display, and be sure to leave extra space in case you receive any more in the future. Take measurements on the boards for each cut; you’ll need at minimum a backing piece, four pieces for a square frame, and however many pieces you need for the challenge coin shelves.
You can also cut pieces for another custom detail or shape as desired.
Once you’ve measured out the pieces you’ll need, make a simple cross cut on each piece. You can use a circular, miter, or band saw, depending on how complex you want the finished product to be. A flat, straight line on each cut is essential, and be sure to note your measurements each time!
Keep in mind that the challenge coin shelf pieces will need to sit at an angle. You’ll need to either cut these pieces at an angle on one side, or carve out grooves or notches on the surface of the shelf for the custom challenge coins to lay on.
You may choose to stain or paint the pieces before assembly; this is recommended if you’re using a variety of custom colors or stains for each type of piece. You could also add a detail like a custom pattern, or incorporate other personal items like a picture or other meaningful detail.
If everything is going to end up the same, you can assemble first and then add design elements afterward.
You can assemble a simple wooden frame using a few nails (with either a hammer or a nail gun) and wood glue, or through notch cuts and dowels embedded in the frame.
We recommend assembling the outer frame, then affixing the backing piece, then putting the challenge coin shelf pieces in last. Be sure to fill any gaps that may result from assembly.
You can add any necessary hardware at this point, then display the case you’ve created however you’d like.
If you made one with a door, be sure to choose the right hinges and hardware to open and close it. You also might need to add a hanger for a flat wall-mounted case, or a backing stand piece if you want it to stand on a tabletop or desktop.
Challenge coin cases can be made with simple materials like wood or composite. However, you can add other design elements to make your challenge coin case stand out - you’re only limited by your imagination.
If you want to include a door to close your case and secure your custom challenge coins when not in use, decide whether you want a solid door or if you want to include a glass panel. A solid door could include a simple latch or lock to keep your custom coins secure, and a glass door would allow you to proudly display your challenge coins for the world to see.
As discussed above, you can add hardware like hangers for wall-mounted displays. And if you do use a door as part of your challenge coin design process, you can choose hinges and knobs that match your design aesthetic.
You can also paint or stain the surface of the case to your desired color. High-quality wood might only need a simple oil or varnish instead of paint, if you wanted a natural look.
Expert makers could paint a custom design, including images imprinted with a stamp or a decal with a custom shape or patterns, or you can even brand your case with a custom logo or picture if desired. For example, a veteran from a military branch like the Coast Guard might create the classic dual-anchor emblem in a fine gold design added as the custom backdrop for the coins to rest on.
If you had an upright case design, you could choose to line the back surface with felt or some other material to prevent the edges of your case - or your challenge coins - from getting scuffed or scratched over time. This can add a professional look to your case that looks like the hallmark of a seasoned collector.
As with any custom or creative project, the sky really is the limit when going through the custom design process for a challenge coin case. Have fun and experiment with any idea you may have for different materials, methods of assembly, or the quality of the finished product. For example, antique gold, antique copper, or another worn metal for the hardware can give your case an aged look, and skilled craftsmen can add any other intricate detail they may want to incorporate.
No two collectors will display the same coin arrangement in the same way, so think about how you’d like to display your challenge coins using one of these general models.
One of the most common custom challenge coin case designs is a simple flat cabinet. These are typically assembled from high-quality materials with professional finishes.
You can open and close the case as desired, letting you retrieve your custom challenge coins and take them with you to group gatherings where you might want them on hand. You can build a small cabinet for a handful of challenge coins, or those with a larger collection can do a much larger case.
These cabinets can be built with a slim profile, and don’t have to be very deep. You can also add elements like molding around the edges of the door frame for a classic look. Some cases could also use a modular design for the challenge coin racks to allow you to add space for more custom challenge coins over time.
If you want a standing desktop or tabletop display, a stand holder rack could be the design concept for you.
These are usually a block of wood with a custom design etched or painted onto it, with grooves cut at intervals to allow you to stand your custom coins upright. This can give the illusion that the artwork or design is slightly raised off the surface of the board.
One of the most recognizable designs is an American flag, with the challenge coin grooves used to mark the stripes. However, you can make a simpler or more complex design based on what details you want in the shape and layout of your case.
This type of challenge coin display case has the most limited space when compared to other models, but they allow you greater versatility in both display and location.
These cases will allow you to set the custom challenge coins in place, then close the frame around it to create the illusion that the challenge coins are floating in midair. You can order or assemble different sizes depending on how many you want to display.
Wall-mounted racks are similar to cabinets, but don’t have a closed environment for the custom coins; instead, you can simply grab them more easily off of the raised ledges on the frame.
Our only warning here is that your custom challenge coins (at least the round ones) may roll off the sides and take more wear and tear this way, so be sure to build some kind of outer frame around the edges to boost the quality of your case and to keep any damage from happening.
The most customary way to mount and display challenge coins in any case is with a narrow groove cut into your shelf. This applies to stand up holders, wall-mounted frames, and cabinets alike.
By cutting a small groove where you want to stand the challenge coins, or by cutting your shelf pieces at a slight angle, you can help keep your round challenge coins upright without toppling forward or to the side.
If you knew exactly how many challenge coins you wanted to display, or if some of your coins had a custom shape or have custom edges that wouldn’t sit on a traditional shelf, you could also create a pegboard effect with tiny dowels set at pre-measured intervals and notched where the challenge coin will rest to allow each coin to stand on its own. This would naturally be more labor intensive, but would show that you took great care to customize your case.
Order and layout matters too: rare coins or those with a custom shape should be given special prominence to give them the honor they deserve.
Challenge coins might not be the only keepsake you wish to store with your challenge coins. Military personnel especially might have other ribbons or medals they may want to include with their military challenge coin display.
If you have other mementos that you want to include with your challenge coins, just be sure to measure them in advance of assembly and leave plenty of room for them to be displayed as well.
You might choose to keep your challenge coins all together in either the bottom or top half of your display case, or you may choose to mount your medals in the center of the frame with the challenge coins surrounding them.
One basic consideration is how easy you want to be able to access your challenge coins. Do you want to be able to take the coins with you at a moment’s notice, or are you content to leave them in the case on a more permanent basis?
Some people may still use their challenge coins for group meetings, or carry them on their person wherever they go. If that is the case, a standing rack or something that is left open at all times might be a better idea.
However, if you just want to display your challenge coins for the world to see and don’t plan on using them again, a door with a secure latching mechanism might be a better way to go.