Introduction: Rainbow Colored Pencil Mirror

About: My name is Kellie and I'm a physicist with a passion for crafting! I love learning new skills and making things. Some of my many passions are sewing, quilting, drawing, painting, crocheting, upholstery, baking…

A few years ago I had a wacky idea to make a colored pencil mirror clock. I have loved that clock, I love rainbows and I love colors! As an artist I am always trying to find ways to incorporate art utensils and media into other forms of art. I decided to go big and use my colored pencil clock idea to make a large mirror. I hope my wacky ideas can inspire others to come up with their own wacky ideas! I hope you enjoy this Instructable!

Step 1: Tools, Materials, and Consumables


  • Jigsaw
  • Table saw
  • Band saw
  • Side grinder
  • Orbital Sander
  • Clamps
  • Square
  • Tape measure
  • Small hand planer
  • Putty knife
  • Caulk gun
  • Pencil planing jig
  • Hand drill
  • Counter sinking drill bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Shop vacuum
  • Air compressor
  • Spreading spatula for construction adhesive
  • Something heavy to hold plywood together


  • 28" mirror (found at Lowe's)
  • Around 450 round colored pencils
  • 3/16" thick plywood
  • 1 x 6 x 19 '' piece of pine (cut for a french cleat)
  • Gorilla glue construction adhesive
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler
  • Wood stain
  • Clear gloss enamel spray
  • 10 1" wood screws
  • 2 3" wood screws


  • Sand paper (80, 120, 220, 320 grit)
  • Flap Disk for side grinder
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Sticky notes/tape
  • Plastic cups
  • Scrap wood

Step 2: Create Base and Backing for Mirror

I had about an 8 foot by 20 inch by 3/16 inch piece of scrap plywood laying around from another project that I used for the base. I needed to use up my plywood so I made half circles and glued them together. If you have a large enough sheet of plywood you can use full circles.

You will need two different sized circles:

  1. 26" circle
  2. 30" circle

  • Using a large square, draw your half circles or circles onto the plywood. Do this by creating a pivot point for the center and marking every few inches while moving the square around the pivot point.
  • In my case I made two half circles pivoting at 13" and two half circles pivoting at 15".
  • Connect the dots and draw your circle/half circle onto the plywood.

Step 3: Cut Out the Plywood Circles

  • Clamp your plywood down to some stable boards.
  • While wearing safety glasses use a jigsaw to cut out the half circles on the lines you drew.
  • Once all your circle halves have been cut out, clamp the same sized pieces together and use a sander to sand the edges and create uniformity between both halves.
  • Do this with both sizes of circles.

Step 4: Assemble Circle Backings

  • Edge glue the two larger half circles and clamp. Allow glue to dry for at least 30 minutes before removing the clamp.
  • Using a tape measure and marker go around the edge of the glued circle and mark 2" inside.
  • Position the two smaller half circles on top of the larger circle between the marks to make sure it is symmetric.
  • Remove from the larger circle and spread wood glue on the larger circle between the marks. Spread glue on the smaller half circles that will lay on the larger circle.
  • Lay the smaller glued pieces perpendicular to the larger circle seam to ensure strength. Make sure you are within the marked lines.
  • Lay something heavy on top of the glued pieces, wait 30 minutes or more before you remove the weights.
  • Allow the glue to dry at least 24 hours.

Step 5: Plane the Colored Pencils

  • Make a planing jig with some scrap wood, glue, and clamps. You want to shave about 1/8 inch off each side at the base of the pencil. You will need to cut two pieces of angled wood (I did this using a band saw). Glue both angled pieces to a piece of plywood with a gap large enough for the pencil to fit between. Sand the pieces to make sure they are level with each other. Glue another piece of wood the same height as the bottom of the wedges in front of the wedges. this gives the pencil a place to push up to when planing.
  • Clamp your jig to a hard surface or table.
  • Place a pencil in your jig and using a small hand planer, gently shave the pencil down to the surface of the wedges of the jig.
  • Flip the pencil over and do the same on the other side.
  • Repeat this process for all of the pencils.
  • Organize your pencils by color in cups.

Step 6: Glue Colored Pencils to Plywood Mirror Base

  • Organize your pencils by color and hue before getting wacky with the glue.
  • Work with a few pencils at a time, you don't want the glue to begin to dry before you can get the pencils onto the plywood.
  • Put glue on the plywood and edge of smaller circle. Add additional pencils by gluing one of the planed sides and attaching it to the next pencil.
  • Place something heavy on top of the drying pencils so they stay positioned on the plywood.
  • Continue the same process all the way around the circles.
  • Allow the glued pencils to dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 7: Expose the Colored Pencil Lead

  • After the glue has dried, use a side grinder to grind half the length of each pencil down to the lead.
  • Don't go crazy with the side grinder, it will take a lot of pencil off at once if you aren't careful.
  • Gently grind the pencils all the way around in circular motions.
  • Continue to make passes around until you have evenly exposed each pencil.
  • Use an orbital sander to even out what the side grinder started.
  • Using wood filler mixed with sawdust and water, fill the gaps between pencils. Let the wood filler dry 24 hours.

Step 8: Sand and Prepare Exposed Pencils for Staining

  • Using 80 grit sand paper, sand the wood filler smooth.
  • Continue to step sand the exposed pencils to 320 grit.
  • Step sanding will help remove most of the large gouges and smeared color.
  • Remove the remaining smeared color sanding by hand.
  • Clean up any remaining dust using a clean cloth and isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

Step 9: Stain Bare Colored Pencils

  • Use a small paint brush and your choice of stain color (I used Minwax golden oak), stain the exposed colored pencils.
  • Let the stain dry for 24 hours before sealing.

Step 10: Make French Cleat for Hanging Mirror

A french cleat is a simple yet strong way to hang something heavy. It uses geometry to create a cleat between two boards to increase strength. One board is fastened to the wall, while the other board is fastened to the mirror, then the two boards meet at a 45 degree angle and rest against each other.

Cut French Cleat

  • Make the french cleat by using a 1 x 6 x 19 inch board.
  • First cut a 3/4" strip from the board to use as a stabilizer at the back base of the mirror when it rest against the wall.
  • Angle your table saw at a 45" angle and set your fence at 2 3/8" from the base of the saw.
  • Cut the remaining half the the board.

Attach French Cleat to Mirror

  • Position the hanging part of the french cleat on the back of the mirror base by aligning the corners of the cleat with the edges of the circle.
  • Glue and clamp in place.
  • Using the long square, align the 3/4" strip with the french cleat above. Glue and clamp.
  • Use a cordless drill and counter sinking drill bit that fits the screws you have chosen, drill two holes in both the top french cleat and bottom brace.
  • Screw in the 1 inch screws into the holes.
  • Flip the mirror base back over right side up.
  • Draw a line connecting the two drilled holes all the way out the both edges of the circle.
  • Drill 3 more holes for the top french cleat and bottom brace.
  • Screw 3 more 1 inch screws into the pre-drilled holes.

Step 11: Seal the Front Stained Pencils and Back of Mirror Base

  • Spray crystal clear gloss enamel over the stained parts of the pencils.
  • Let dry for 30 minutes and apply another coat.
  • Repeat until the pencils are properly sealed.
  • Allow to dry overnight, then flip over and spray the plywood base, cleat, and brace. This will help keep moisture out of the wood and prevent contracting and expanding of the wood when it is connected to the mirror.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 12: Attach Mirror to Pencil Base

  • Using a square place sticky notes 1 inch away from the small center circle.
  • Do this around the circle to have a reference of where to lay the mirror.
  • Practice laying the mirror between the sticky notes to ensure they are in the right place.
  • Remove the mirror.
  • Using a caulking gun and gorilla glue construction adhesive, squish glue out onto the clean plywood.
  • Use a plastic spreading spatula to spread the construction adhesive all over the plywood.
  • Once the plywood is sufficiently covered, gently place the mirror onto the adhesive between the sticky notes.
  • Apply pressure onto the mirror and gently slide the mirror around to ensure proper adhesion.
  • Let the adhesive dry for 24 hours before moving the whole mirror.

Step 13: Hang the Mirror and Enjoy!

Using the lower side of the french cleat attach it to the studs of the wall with long screws. Gently slide the mirror onto the other board until both boards make a snug fit to complete the cleat. Clean your mirror with window cleaner.


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