Introduction: Vintage Car Tire Mirror

About: I am a teacher who enjoys environmentally responsible woodworking. Most evenings will find me in the shop working with my now 8 year old son Shay who is both my greatest helper and biggest fan.

Old car tires dumped in the woods suck. They are unsightly, can leach chemicals and take forever to break down. Now used car tires can be recycled into many things, roads, roofing, more tires and other utilitarian items. The question I had, could I make an old tire beautiful?

The tire I used was one that we went into the wilds of Montana and personally pulled out of a mountain stream. A free range tire, gluten free. Making this improved our environment and gave us a feeling of satisfaction, self righteous or otherwise. It was part of a larger cleanup effort spearheaded by my son and I. Most of the tires we collected that day were properly disposed of by traditional tire recycling methods, but not this one. This tire was special.

Dumped by miners in the woods decades ago, this old bias-ply tire had developed a spectacular texture of cracks and fissures. Generation upon generation of squirrels and mice have gnawed the tread, leaving their teeth marks alongside the dental impressions of their great rodent forefathers. This was a sparkling unicorn of a tire, it could never be replicated, a patina long fought and hard earned.


Find tire. I used an old bias-ply tire because 1. it was wicked cool and 2. it didn't have steel belting. I think this could be done with a steel belted tire but cutting one of those in half is going to be... impressive.

Cut tire in half. I followed a center rib line and used a large kitchen knife lubricated with oil of some sort. It is hard, tiring (lol) work but you need to just slowly saw that baby in two.

Cut wood disk for backing. You are going to need something to mount the mirror on and something to close up the back. Those two things are one and the same. I used plywood salvaged from the dumpster. Sure it has some battle scars but whatever, you can't see them from the front and it works. After you have your tire sliced like a bagel, measure and cut a wood circle just a whisper larger than the diameter you need. The rubber with stretch some and that will insure a nice snug fit.

Mount mirror. Like I show in the video, mark your backer for the center and then cover it with mirror. The mirrors I used were square because they are just cheap decorator's mirrors I got from In the video you see me use wood spacers to hold the mirror off the plywood. I did this for two reasons. 1. I needed just a little bit more depth to seat the mirror tight against the inside of the tire bead and 2. I think mounting the mirror directly to the wood is asking to have it break later. I think the space allows some flexibility and wood movement. Feel free to disagree.

Screw back to tire. Pre-drill holes to keep the wood from splitting. You could measure out and space the screws but I didn't bother. They are black the tire is black. No one is going to see them.

Hang and admire. Who made that? You made that, you sexy beast you.

This project was a gift for the students of Plains High School. Each year I make something related to their prom theme to be drawn for by a member of the senior class. 2017 is Great Gatsby. When I think of that book I think of the prominence of the automobile and the power of self reflection (or lack thereof) The idea behind this tradition is to create something unique tied to a special moment the students might be able to cherish. In order to be eligible to win you must stay for the prom after party. Our goal is to keep seniors from leaving prom early in order to engage in dangerous behaviors. Kids stay with us, drink pop, eat greasy food and win prizes into the wee hours of the morning. With some 2 am bacon and pancakes in your belly the sleepies come on and no body has the energy to make mischief.

Want to make one? Cool. If you do show me via a link here or on youtube. I love when people share my ideas and we just like seeing your take!

Other items of interest!

Want to make your own circle cutter?

Previous Prom Project Production Pieces:



Dumpster diving for fun and profit!

We really do go out and clean the forest. I think it is important to teach my son the value of service.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017