I. Love. Mirrors. And I have a lot of them. Most of the collection is from garage sales (think: <$3 each, sometimes framed, sometimes not)… because heavy glass mirrors they can end up being quite pricy at a real store, I try and buy them on the cheap whenever I can find them. Right now, some of the collection is safely in storage, but a few are on display for utility in my walk-in closet (just leaning against the wall on top of a dresser), and another was hung in the bathroom above the sink. I have good intentions to revamp, use, and display each of them.
That brings me to the first mirror-framing project that I proudly finished: Sometime in the last year when I was visiting my family, I spent some time exploring my parents crumbling barn (looking for odds and ends to salvage). The barn itself is in a weakening state, getting a little worse with each passing winter (they’re so harsh up here in Western NY). Thinking that they might be useful for a crafty project, Dad and I decided to remove some floorboards that had been nicely weathered but protected enough to not be effected by water and rot. He cut them to length so that I could carry them back to Rochester, and then they promptly sat in my dining room for several months. Come to think of it, this must have been last February or March – I couldn’t do anything with them because there was still a lot of snow outside in my work area.
By the time the weather had improved, I had a plan in place to make a big, heavy, mirror frame. As simple as it sounds, it took a lot of noodling and sanding and trimming (and patience) to make the boards match up correctly. Because I did want my frame to have mitered corners (not just lapped edges), I carefully measured for cut 45-degree angles on each board, and then cut using a circular saw because I didn’t have access to a miter saw. It required a bit of planning and measuring, because the boards I used weren’t equal in width (notice the short ends are wider, in the final pictures), but in the end it worked out pretty well and they fit together snugly.
To actually connect the boards to one another, I relied on some hefty metal connectors from the deck hardware aisle in Home Depot (I was also in the midst of deck demolition at the time this frame was coming together). Biscuit joiners are ideal for projects like this, but I didn’t have access to the proper tools. Once I was confident that the frame was as good as it could be, it came time to install the mirror itself (keep in mind: the mirror needs to be about 1/2″ bigger all around than the opening in the frame for this next part to work correctly). IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: I didn’t have a router or the ideal rabbeting bit for this step. What I used was a sharp “gouging wood” type of attachment on the Dremel to make a 1/4″ deep, 1/2″ wide inset area on the interior of the frame for the mirror to actually sit in. I basically ran the running tool slowly over the edge, shaving away layers and layers of wood. During the whole process, I kept laying the mirror in place so that I could make sure I was gouging out deep enough for the mirror to sit evenly. This took somewhere around 3 hours (maybe more, I may have blacked this time out… all I know is that when the job was done, my hand proceeded to reverberate for about 12 more hours).
To wrap up the project, I installed metal connectors to hold the mirror in place on the frame – I mimicked the way a normal picture frame works, with little tabs holding the back locked in place. To install the mirror and frame on the wall (it was going on a big open wall in the dining room), I opted to purchase two strong picture frame connectors (the ones that claim to hold 50 lbs. each) and measured/leveled them on the wall. I didn’t choose wire because I was concerned about the strength and weight distribution, but would recommend the wall hooks that I put on any day. It worked out really well and has held together really well. I’m so happy with the end result, I just wish I had salvaged more wood to make more frames… maybe on my next trip to visit the family I’ll stock up.