Making a Window Mirror (Part 1)

This is an idea I’ve been entertaining for a number of months, although not something I had cooked up entirely within my own skull.

My flat is lacking in light, being on the ground floor and with only window window fitted in each room. Instead of adding lamps and racking up the electricity bill, I came up with the idea to use mirrors. This is an alternative take on simply buying a ‘rectangular frame’. I like the thought of being able to add the impression of an extra window in my living room.

This is how I made it, away from a workshop.

I’ve used plywood (offcuts from work) and everything was cut to size before I bought it home. I’d been thinking about buying softwood (maybe 2x1in or 44x19mm) and although I could visualise the frame going together, I couldn’t decide on an efficient way to secure the glass tiles (which I bought from that big Swedish furniture store…).

I started off by laying everything down on the floor to check that my dimensions were correct, that everything went together okay and it did look good.

All of the frame components are cut from 18mm thick birch ply, which should be easy to paint. But the back panel is 12mm marine ply and it came in two halves for a couple of reasons – it would be easier for me to carry and would be more economical than ‘stealing’ a large percentage of a full sheet.

Once I had the top and bottom rails screwed in place (spaced evenly from each side), I could add the vertical stiles.

This method of gluing and screwing worked but it felt overly time-consuming and my arms were reaching out for a pin gun that wasn’t there… Only this morning, I’ve realised that I could’ve saved a lot of hassle by pocket-screwing the frame together and then screwing the back on last – which would also have concealed those pocket holes…

Next time! 😛

At close to 1m square, this frame was too large to sit comfortably on my WorkMate and so, when it came to adding the intermediate rails and then the mutins, mullions or whatever they’re called; I glued them in place and sat some weight on top. Once the glue had begun to cure, I flipped the assembly over and added the screws.

Even with a plywood spacer already cut to size (1mm larger than the finished size of each tile), error crept in along the way and, after inserting the final screw, I noticed that the spacer was now tighter in some openings than in others… Almost too tight, you could say.

I looked at the assembled frame and decided that it would be a good idea to relieve the square internal arrises with a bearing-guided chamfer cutter in my router:

I’m not a great fan of ‘yellow‘ tools but I could sing the praises of their 621K router all day and night. It’s the dust extraction that perhaps impresses me the most and always has done.

All that router work left me with a lot of corners to be cleaned up, once I had thoroughly sharpened my chisels.

I’ll tell you all about my glass-cutting setup and experience in Part 2.

I even put two inexpensive cutting tools head-to-head with one another.

Yes, I should’ve used a smaller brush.

I’m currently under way with the painting and a second coat of gloss paint (to help with the reflectiveness) could be applied tomorrow. As you’ll see above; there were some gaps that needed to be filled before hand… Then, all I really had to do is install the glass and hang it.

This is an experiment to see how it works. There’s a chance I could make another one and already, I like the thought of making (a smaller) one as a gift. If I do come to make any more, I’ll certainly record video footage for those of you who follow me on YouTube.

Thanks for reading and look out for Part 2 soon.

Any questions? Please get in touch.

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