Introduction: Mirror With Cork

We would like to share with you our instructable on how to transform a cracked/broken/ugly mirror into a reflective cork board for checking your looks and pinning up personal items. Convenience is key! Cut away the broken bits, and replace it with cork!

This Instructable was prepared as a project for the Fall 2018 offering of INTEG 375: Hands-on Sustainability, a third-year course in the Knowledge Integration program at the University of Waterloo. The whole point of the course was to reclaim an item out of the waste stream that could be repaired and repurposed. We had found this broken mirror and decided this would be our project, we wanted to transform this broken mirror and give it a new life and purpose. We decided that by adding a little cork the mirror could be used in a front hallway as an organizational tool. After completing our Instructable, the mirror ended up in our home by the front door and has been utilized by all roommates, especially has a reminder for things like bills, or when home supplies were needed.

Overall this experience provided us with the opportunity to use our hands and through that we were able to pick up several handy skills. From glass cutting, panting, and applying spackle, the process of repairing our mirror has opened our eyes to the possibilities of repair and waste reclamation. One thing, in particular, we learned from this experience was that people waste a lot of money buying new things when they can be easily fixed. A simple repair job like our mirror has transformed a broken oval-shaped mirror into a useful item that serves two purposes: the first as a mirror and the second as a cork board.

We hope our experience inspires viewers to reclaim their broken items!

Step 1: List of Materials

These are the materials you will need:

  • Glass Cutter
  • Wood
  • Glue
  • Putty (spackle)
  • Putty knife
  • Exacto knife
  • Paper towel
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pencil Marker
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Screws
  • Picture Hanging Wire

Step 2: Observe Your Broken Mirror…

Remove glass from the mirror, and observe the breaks and cracks. Decide how much of the glass you can salvage and how much of the glass needs to be cut away.

We used a piece of paper the shape of the mirror to fold and make a good line.

Step 3: Cut the Mirror!

a) Draw a Line to Guide Your Glass Cutter

If you have a round mirror, you can use paper to find the exact right angles to cut across. We had a crescent-shaped crack in our mirror when it was found it, and it was an oval shaped mirror to start with. We decided to cut a large piece of paper into the shape of the mirror (to replicate the original shape pre-break) so that we could fold the paper to find an even line to cut across. Using a ruler, draw the line across the mirror, to prepare for scoring.

b) Score the Glass

Now that a line is drawn across the mirror, you can score the glass to make a clean break. Be extra careful with the glass you are planning to preserve(we'd recommend you put on some gloves and goggles for this part). Using your glass cutter and a ruler, guide the glass cutter along your drawn line and really put your weight into the cutter. With practice, you’ll find there is a difference between scraping the surface and getting a deeper score of the glass. You should try to get close to the edges of the glass you’re cutting, but avoid running the blade off the edge because you’ll leave cracks along it.

c) Make a Clean Break

Once you’ve gotten a clean score along your drawn line, you should be able to make a clean break. A nice quick snap of the glass will provide you with a clean break, to do this place one hand on either side of the glass and apply pressure with your thumbs on either side to break along the scored line. Doing this should provide a clean break along the score line with little resistance from the glass.

*We suggest practice scoring on the broken end of the glass, but still leave enough room for you to properly cut your mirror.

With larger mirrors, it may be safer to keep the pretty bits of glass on a flat surface (like a table) and slide it until the score line is just over the (table’s) edge. Have a friend hold the glass on the table while you pull down on the broken half to cleanly break along the score line.

d) Repeat

Repeat until you are left with the bits you want to put back in your mirror frame. Now you should have two pieces of glass, so you have preserved the part with clean breaks and your excess glass with ugly cracks. (don’t throw the cracked glass away yet! We can still use it.) If there are still some cracks in the glass you’d like to keep, you can consider repeating the earlier steps to cut away mirror until only the best parts are left (still, keep the leftovers because you can make fun art with them!).

Step 4: Fill the Remaining Area With Cork.

Now we get to fill the remaining space in the frame with corkboard. Here, you can use your paper cutout again to shape the cork you need to cut. Draw a line around the paper and follow it with your exacto knife to cut it out!

To make the corkboard fit nicely in the frame, we left the edges a little bit longer than the inside of the frame. We then shaved the edges with sandpaper until we could wedge the cork tightly beneath the frame.

Step 5: Reworking With the Frame (Wooden Frame)

If your frame was broken and ugly like ours, it’s easy to fill any holes with a bit of spackle. Use your putty knife to spread the spackle across the parts of your frame that need filling. In our case, there were cracks, holes, and wood chipped away from the frame. We were able to fill holes and fill in large chips using the putty. The spackle won’t adhere immediately to chipped wood, so be sure to press it in with your knife to really make contact. Once you’ve covered up that open wood wound, let the paste dry. Fresh spackle will stick better to dry spackle then to a chipped wood surface. Once your second layer dries, you can sand it flat with sandpaper.

Step 6: Paint the Frame

After sanding down your frame to smooth the edges, you should apply new paint! A nice paint job will make the refurbished frame feel fresh. We applied two coats because two thin coats are better than one thick one.

Our technique with applying paint was to have long strokes that left a nice wood grain texture in white.

Step 7: Wire the Frame

Find a good spot to add two new screws and wrap the picture-hanging wire around them. We wrapped the wire in the same direction (clockwise) around the screw that they would tighten so the wire was held more tightly. Once you have the wire tied tightly around the screws and it's all screwed in, you can hang it up!

Step 8: Style the Mirror/Cork Edge

Now that you're nearly done, it is time to add some finishing touches. We decided to use some scrap wood to separate the cork and mirror. We shaved down the edges of the wooden strip with sandpaper just until it would tightly fit into the frame. Once we got the right length, we painted it over in the same colour as the rest of the frame. Then, we glued the strip into place to make a nice divide between mirror and cork.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Step 10: Extra Bits: Try Stain Glass Some Day!