DIY Front Surface Mirror





Introduction: DIY Front Surface Mirror

I see there is a lot of laser enthusiasts on this site (including myself), so
I decided to share some of my experience of making front surface mirror.

Original idea belongs to

I used acrylic mirror for my design.
It's not the best solution but it's very easy and safe to work with and quality of mirror would be acceptable for most laser/optic applications.

So if you are interested, check out my materials:

Here's my another, more advanced, method of making FS mirrors using 
Winning Colors Stain Remover.
This safe and reliable method works with any acrylic or glass mirror.

Step 1: 1.

Procedure is simple.

Put on safety glasses and gloves.
Cut piece you need.

Step 2: 2.

Shape it.

Step 3: Remove Protective Paint From Back Side of Mirror

At first use paint remover. I think any kind will work well.
Just one thing to remember. It will dissolve acrylic, so work fast and carefully.
You can use masking tape to protect plastic from contact with paint remover.

Check back side of mirror for scratches, dents, etc...
If reflective coating is damaged from back side, paint remover will go to plastic base and pop mirror foil up.

Next, use acetone to wipe off remains of paint remover and finish cleaning.

Reflective coating is very thin, so handle it accordingly.


Since I've discovered Winning Colors Stain Remover I stopped using any other chemicals.
It's non toxic, environment friendly, water based liquid which will not harm acrylic and your skin. 

Now procedure is even easier:
1. Pour Winning Colors Stain  Remover into proper container.
2. Drop mirror into container. Painted side up.
3. Let it soak for 30 min or more (time may depend on back paint and size of mirror).
4. If paint got loose and started peeling off, remove mirror and put into container filled with tap water or rinse it under water stream. You may use cotton balls and gently swab mirror while it immersed. Optional step is to rinse mirror with steam distilled water in order to remove any particle left from tap water.
5. Pour remaining liquid back into bottle for future use.



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    OK, I understand this thread is four years old now but in case anyone is still listening:

    How long do these front surface mirrors last? My understanding is if they are made with Silver Nitrate they will oxidize(?) or darken within a short period of time. Is that the case with acrylic mirror?

    I believe that acrylic mirrors are coated in aluminum.

    I haven't really noticed any significant changes in performance of my one year old spirograph. I agree that mirror surface could deteriorate after some time but at least it's not critical for simple laser show.

    I would never have thought of doing this! In the absence of paint remover, I looked for alternatives, and found that carburettor cleaner also works.

    Thanks a lot, just as I was contemplating making a silver mirror (which involves a lot of nasty chemicals and is generally quite a job) I bumped into this, 30 minutes later and I have a beautiful mirror for my vintage camera!

    This product is not winners colors stain remover here in the us either. It is winning colours stain remover and is available at home depot.

    Hi, has anyone in Australia found a suitable product.
    Im looking, will post If I find anything. Ernie

    Found Motsenbocker's Lift Off #5 , here in Brisbane

    I don't know if it's acrylic mirror I use, but even the most delicate painter's tape, will strip away pain and mirror finish when I remove it :( Good news is that you don't have to put it on at all. Instead of file I used dremel with sandpaper and it's very good for rounding square off. It melts plastic off, but leaves edges smooth, and it's really much faster than file :)


    Can you tell me which product is similar to this "Winner Colors Stain Remover"? I tried paint thinner (ruins my acryl mirror) or kitchen oil/fat cleaner (doensnt work at all), but it all fails.
    I want to avoid to run to the homeworker store thousand times always buying the wrong thing. Can you tell me which features this product must have? Unfortunaly I dont live in US so we dont have "Winner Colors". But I am looking for something similar.

    Can I use nail enamel remover for this?

    Thank you for your tutorial btw. Its great!