Materials and construction
The frame is constructed with quick, easy biscuit joinery.
Trim-head screws are used to attach the brackets, the lidded box
and the cap piece on the frame. I chose these screws because
their tiny heads are less visible and less prone to splitting thin
parts, such as the brackets. Screws also allow the entire project
to be disassembled for easier finishing.
Hidden barrel hinges give the box a clean, seamless appearance
and allow the lid to double as a shelf. Solid brass pegs add beauty
to the mirror and are perfect for hanging keys. The large mirror
stands ready for a last-second glance before I walk out the door.
This project would also look great built with some straightgrained
oak or pine, but I went all out and used figured English
sycamore. (see Sources, below). The supplier requires a minimum
purchase, so I ordered enough sycamore to build two mirrors
and gave one as a gift.
Build the frame
1. Lay out the project parts on rough lumber (Photo 1).
The wood gets resawn so you only need to lay out pieces for
one mirror to make two. Planning before cutting allows you
to match color and grain patterns and maximize the yield,
which is especially important on precious wood. Lay out the
brackets together on a piece of wood large enough to be
planed and jointed before you cut them out.
2. Cut and mill all the parts. I opted to use 5/4 stock because
it minimizes waste and can be resawn into thinner pieces.
3. Enlarge the pattern (Fig. C, below) to full size and
trace it onto the bottom rail (D). Rough-cut the pattern on a
bandsaw and then smooth the final shape on a sanding drum
or a spindle sander. Trim off the waste piece.
4. Mark and drill the holes for the brass pegs on the bottom
rail using a drill press (Fig. A, below).
5. Make the decorative cap (L). Ease the cap’s edges and
glue the cap to the bottom rail.
6. Join the frame pieces (Fig. A) using biscuits. Leave a 1/8-in.
gap between the middle and bottom rails for cross-grain expansion.
Offset the top rail slot so the biscuits hang out the top edge (Photo
2). Trim the biscuits flush after the glue has set.
7. Route a rabbet for the mirror around the back side of
the frame. Square the corners using a chisel.
8. Attach the top (E) to the frame.
Shape the front and side edges with a
1/4-in. round-over bit, and screw the
top in place (Fig. A).
Build the box
9. Miter the box sides (J, K) on a sliding
miter saw or with a miter gauge on
10. Glue up the box (Photo 3). As long as the miters have been
cut correctly, the box will fold up easily and the tape will hold the
pieces together. Place the box in a framing square to nudge the
box square and use a clamp to tighten the joints, if necessary.
11. Attach the box to the frame (Photo 4, Fig. A).
12. Drill holes for the hinges in the box lid (Photo 5). Secure
the lid in a hand-screw clamp to make sure the holes are drilled
straight, and clamp everything to the table so nothing moves.
13. Cut the hinge rail from the box lid (Photo 6) by ripping a
strip, through the holes, 1/2 in. from the back edge of the box lid.
14. Screw the hinge rail to the frame and the box bottom
to the box sides and frame (Fig. A).
15. Shape the brackets (H) from the pattern (Fig. B, below). Rough-cut the design on the bandsaw and sand each
bracket smooth. Screw the brackets to the frame and to the
box bottom (Fig. A).
Install the barrel hinges
16. Install the barrel hinges in the lid first and then place
the hinges in the holes of the hinge rail (Photo 7).
17. Set the hinges using thin spacers, such as playing
cards (Photo 8). Place the cards between the lid and the
hinge rail and lightly push down on the lid. Gently open the
lid and tighten the setscrews. The lid should close tightly
with only a slight gap between the lid and hinge rail.
Add the finishing touches
18. Disassemble the project and finish (Photo 9). After
everything is finished, reassemble the project.
19. Add the mounting brackets and pegs and install the
mirror (Photo 10). Hang and enjoy.
Fig. A: Exploded View
Fig. B: Brackets
Fig. C: Bottom Rail Cutout
1. Before making any cuts, lay out the pieces to maximize
the wood yield. Build visual harmony into the project
by laying out the box sides end to end so the grain flows
around the box when it is assembled.
2. Join the frame parts using biscuits. On the narrow top
rail, offset the slot so the biscuit protrudes out the top of
the frame. It can be trimmed off later and completely covered
by the top.
3. Position the box parts on two strips of masking tape.
Spread glue and fold the pieces together. Use the overhanging
tape to strap the last miter together. Square the box
and snug the miters together with clamps.
4. Screw the assembled box sides to the frame and build
the rest of the box on the frame. Using this approach,
it’s easier to get the box lid and bottom to fit tightly against
the mirror frame.
5. Drill holes in the box lid for the barrel hinges. A 13/32-in bit
produces a hole for the best fit. Barrel hinges can be fussy to
install. In this case, predrilling the hinge holes in the box lid and
then ripping the hinge rail guarantees perfect alignment.
6. Rip the hinge rail from the box lid. Because the hinge rail
will be cut from the box lid (see Step 13), the holes must
be 1/8 in. deeper than the length of the hinge to account for
the stock the tablesaw blade removed.
7. Place the hinges in the holes of the hinge rail. Tighten
the screws just enough so the hinges can move in and
out with pressure but do not slide freely.
8. Use playing cards to set the gap between the lid and
hinge rail. The perfect fit has a nominal gap between the
lid and hinge spacer but allows the lid to close completely. If
the lid does not close completely, double up the cards.
9. Disassemble the project’s parts—except for the frame—
to sand and finish. Every other piece can easily be sanded
and finished individually, nearly eliminating the need to
work in tight corners.
10. Secure the mirror with glazier points. Place tape
below each point and on the pliers’ jaws to prevent
scratches. Stick a few felt pads on the back of the frame to
keep the frame from rubbing against the wall.