Deep Hole in a Small Box, a Different Take on the Infinity Mirror.

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Introduction: Deep Hole in a Small Box, a Different Take on the Infinity Mirror.

About: Woodworking gadget fan, photographer, husband, cyclist, kayaking SUP riding real ale drinker. More of this stuff is over at my Instagram.

First off I must give credit for the inspiration to these two Reddit posts, this is the first one I saw and this is the one that inspired that first one.

Having seen these I knew it was something I wanted to make. I hope this Instructable inspires you to pick up the tools and give it a go.

I completely messed up my first attempt by trying to use some beach and ash offcuts that I unsuccessfully jointed, this is version 2 and so much better.

The final product is impressive, even if I do say so myself.

Supplies

Most of the supplies will depend on the size of the box you're planning to make.
I used some really nice B/BB plywood, this is such a great material and so different from the 'normal' plywood you get from the big box stores. Very few (if any) voids and with the B grade face it's pretty much blemish free. It's a little heavier and quite a bit more expensive, I would say it's worth it for any 'public' facing project.
The size of the box I made was determined by the mirror that my wife was throwing out, this was used as the bottom mirror.
You'll need enough wood (ply) to make the four side of the box to a height of about 325 mm (13 inches).
I decided to go for a bulkhead light for the inside of the box as I thought this was in keeping with a mine shaft. You'll also need a length of mains cable.
The bottom mirror is a standard mirror but the top is where the 'magic' happens.

Step 1: The Bottom Mirror

To reinforce the bottom mirror I mounted it to a piece of 4 mm plywood using some double-sided carpet tape.
This gave a total thickness of 8 mm, you'll need to remember this measurement for later as this is the size of the router bit you'll need for the rabbet.

Step 2: Make Your Ladder

I had originally planned to get an old ladder and chop one of the rungs off. After searching Gumtree, Facebook marketplace and local skips I didn't manage to find anything cheap enough (free).

I wasted so much time looking around, it actually took me less time to make a quick single rung ladder.

Using a couple of 70 x 50 mm pine offcuts and an old broom handle I knocked up a little single rung ladder.
I distressed the pine by knocking it about with a hammer and painted it black to add to the mine shaft authenticity.

The height of you ladder will be determined by the space between your two mirrors, you want to make sure the ladder is tight up against the top mirror as any large gap will ruin the illusion. You also want to make sure the rung is in the middle for the same reason.

Step 3: Making the Box Sides

As I do with most projects I drew up the basic plan first. I've attached the Sketchup file of the plywood layout.

For added strength I decided to join the sides using super sized finger joints, to do this I made a quick jig, this allowed me to make multiple blade passes on my table saw, these were also at an exact 90º.
I started by measuring the end of the long sides and dividing it by 5 to get the size of the fingers. These were then marked out on both ends of the two longer sides. Once I had made the cuts to make the fingers I then used the cutouts to mark up the corresponding fingers on the short side pieces.

Using the cutouts to mark up the second pieces ensures that the fingers line up.
I dry fitted the box together to ensure a good fit before the glue up.

Step 4: Routing the Slot for Top and Bottom Mirrors

Using an 8 mm router bit mounted into my router table I routed a slot for the bottom mirror around the bottom of each of the four sides. In the shorter sides this slot was stopped before the edge, so I was not visible from the outside.

In one of the short sides I cut a 50 mm hole, this is centred around the bottom mirror slot, it's to allow the mains cable to pass past the mirror, through to the light.

Again, another dry fit, this time with the mirror in place.

I then routed a slot all around the top edge of each side, this slot was 4.5 mm deep as I was planning to use a 4 mm top mirror. The slot was cut to half the width of the sides, this gives the top mirror enough area to rest on.
All the top slots were stopped to line up with the corresponding slot on the joined piece.

Step 5: The Top Mirror

Once I had routed the slot around the inside top edge I was able to measure up to get the top piece of glass.

I went to my local glass / mirror centre, having given them the measurements and told them what it was for, they strongly recommended I got toughened glass. This is a service they offer but there was a week delay.

Having collected my new piece of toughened glass it was time to make the top mirror.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures / video of me making the actual top mirror.
It took two attempts as I completely messed up the first one, I hadn't cleaned the glass well enough and managed to stick the mirror film to itself and crease it. I decided not to film my second attempt as I really needed to concentrate.

I'm pleased to say the second attempt went much better and I now had a serviceable top mirror.

Please take the time to watch the video, even if it's just for the trick on how to remove the mirror film backing.

Step 6: Glue Up

All the sides had now been finished it was time to glue up the box.

DON'T FORGET TO PUT IN THE BOTTOM MIRROR. If you do you won't be able to add it in later. I also put the top mirror in place to make sure the box was square around it.

I used Titebond 2 wood glue but any PVA wood glue would work fine. Make sure you cover all the mating surfaces, if like me you're using plywood, make sure you use enough glue as the ply is thirst and you don't want a dry joint.

As shown in the second picture I made two corner blocks to allow me to put some clamping pressure across the box to square it up.

The box was then left for the glue to set.

The following day I sanded all the outside faces.

To the outside faces I applied 3 coats of Danish oil, sanding lightly between coats.

Step 7: Fitting Out the Inside

Again to maintain the illusion of the mine shaft I clad the inside of the box with some unfinished shiplap.
This was a great find because it was out of the bin at the timber merchants.

After this I hot glued the bottom of the ladder into position on the bottom mirror. I also ran a bead of hot glue down the back of each leg to hold it to the side.

On the opposite side to the ladder I passed the wire through the hole up to the bulkhead light. This was wired and screwed to the side, a 6 watt LED was installed and the top put on.

Step 8: Feet

To lift the box off the floor I added some feet, these were made from some plywood offcuts.

The main reason was to allow the mains cable to pass out of the box without being squashed and damaged.

Step 9: Finished Results

The end result was superb and exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

It must be convincing because I showed one person who proceeded to look under the box to see how this 'magic' was being done.

The 'magic' of this is how a 'one way' mirror works... As it was explained to me by the guy in the mirror shop is that the refection is always on the side of the mirror with the most light. This is why the police turn off the light when they are observing the interview from outside.
On the table when the light inside is off it just looks like a mirrored top, when the light is on you get the internal reflections, this is even more effective when the external light in the room is off too.

Step 10: Go for It

I hope this has inspired you to have a go too.

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8 People Made This Project!

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96 Comments

0
ProjectsandThings
ProjectsandThings

7 months ago on Step 10

“the ply is thirsty and you don't want a dry joint”
As any stoner will agree to :)
Well done Steven!

I saw this one float around the internet somewhere and now that I have found the source I have to say I’m impressed. You did take an existing idea but made it so much more believable with the mineshaft concept

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 7 months ago

I posted it on r/Woodwork and it sort of blew up (for one of my posts). It was also on my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/svacher/
In fact someone from Germany (I'm in the UK) reached out and bought it. I hadn't made it to sell but the offer was too good

0
mrdebos
mrdebos

8 months ago

Very nice job! Thanks for sharing your build. The effect works much better than I would have imagined. Definetely inspired to make one for myself someday, be it a bit more modern-looking. Or maybe a tiny one to put on my desk for fun...

0
Wizswoodwork
Wizswoodwork

1 year ago

wow.... just wow! this is bloody incredible! you've definitely inspired me! i think i'll be making one for my youtube channel. i wish you made a full build video as it would have been amazing to see this built..

also yours is way better than the pintrest ones! i love the wooden ladder!

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you very much for the comments 😁 I'm glad to have inspired you, hopefully you'll post some pictures here of your finished project.
I never do full build videos because I'm so disorganized with my build progress it would be an editing nightmare.
The wooden ladder was more of a happy accident but I was super pleased with the end result.

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 9 months ago

Looks really good, I like the darker outside colour

0
kenbriscoe
kenbriscoe

Question 1 year ago on Step 10

wonderful instructable !! Bravo One question What type of film is used for the top mirror. That info is not included in the Instructable . Thanks and keep up the great work

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Answer 1 year ago

Sorry for not stating the film, it is just standard 'mirror film' it's sold all over, most hardware shops carry it, any glass shop or you can buy it online at Amazon.

0
esteebie
esteebie

Reply 11 months ago

Hi there, love this and mine is almost finished. Searching for 'mirror film' online eg Amazon gives mostly results for '1 way mirror film' which surely can't be the right thing? There is '2 way mirror film' but this is significantly less common and also more expensive.

My glass shop don't do it and were a little vague in their advice. Really want to get this right first time.. Could you possibly send an example link to the correct stuff?

Look fwd to sharing my finished photos soon!

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 11 months ago

Hi,
Yes, it does seam to go under different names. The glass shop I bought mine from called it 2-way film but I guess it could be 1-way. Disappointed that your glass shop didn't know what it was.

I don't know where you are so here is a UK link.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/TTMOW-Privacy-Reflective-...
Here's a US one.
https://www.amazon.com/Daytime-Privacy-Non-Adhesiv...
And a Canadian one too
https://www.amazon.ca/Reflective-Decorative-Daytim...

Sorry if I didn't cover where you're from but these should give you the best idea :-)

0
esteebie
esteebie

Reply 11 months ago

Amazing, thank you so much. I'm UK too (Bristol). I think I was getting confused with 2-way and the fact that the top mirror needs to both reflect internally but also allow some light to pass through. Seems that 80:20 reflect/transmit is about right.

Obviously you would have the film inside to prevent scratching, but presumably it works exactly the same whichever way up you have itI

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 11 months ago

Yes the mirror film is on the inside of the box.
Did you get your box completed?
Post some pics

0
esteebie
esteebie

Reply 11 months ago

Yep, all done - it's on the 'others who made it' bit

0
debrontor
debrontor

Tip 11 months ago

If you add a little angle to the top mirror, it fades away around the corner.

WhatsApp Image 2020-12-29 at 16.27.46.jpeg
0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Reply 11 months ago

Or it looks like you weren't able to get all the angles straight 😉 🤪

0
gmartonic
gmartonic

Question 11 months ago on Step 10

for top glass.....reflective coating on unerside (inside box)....,correct? would make sense

0
Stevens Workshop
Stevens Workshop

Answer 11 months ago

On the top glass the mirror film is applied to the inside of the box side.
The bottom mirror is a normal mirror.

0
debrontor
debrontor

Answer 11 months ago

I think both are ok. The difference is that when applied to the top side the film can get easily scratched from the glass. If you go for the more safe bottom side, you will have the little glass gap that you might notice.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_surface_mirror