Backstage Mirror

Introduction: Backstage Mirror

An off the shelf mirror from IKEA was fitted with a wooden frame, to which was mounted 10 lamps. The following is simply an explanation of what I did to construct this illuminated mirror. Feel free to adapt it to your requirements.

Cost: approximately £60, excluding things like glue which I had already.

Time taken: approximately 4 hours


  • Planed wood 70mm X 20mm section
  • 10 off brass batten lamp holders- bayonet cap with 52mm base
  • 10 off 40W golf ball type incandescent bulbs (plus some spares) - available online
  • 1 off mirror- from IKEA
  • 5 metres of 3 core flex, at least 3 amp but thicker if you want brighter bulbs.
  • A few feet of unsleeved earth wire
  • Small brass screws to mount lamp holders
  • 3 pin plug
  • 1 off in line switch
  • 4 off mirror corners
  • 8 off 6mm dowels
  • Stain or finish of your choice (I used Briwax)
  • Wood glue


  • Mitre saw if required
  • Router with 6mm cutter
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire cutters / strippers
  • Drill
  • Drill bits, various
  • Dowel pins
  • Digital multimeter or similar
  • Soldering iron & solder
  • Steel rule or calipers

The electrical side of this is very simple, but nonetheless I still have to say that mains electricity is dangerous, and I take no responsibility for any harm or damage which may occur as a result of attempting this project.

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Step 1: Build Frame

Cut wood to required lengths if necessary, ensuring ends are square. I asked the man in the shop to cut the lengths for me when I bought the wood.

You need 2 long pieces (688mm) and 2 short pieces (556mm)

Create dowel joints in corners as follows:

Drill two 6mm holes in each end of each short piece of wood for the dowels. Use dowel pins to mark up, and drill the corresponding holes in the long pieces of wood. Glue dowels into place with wood glue and assemble frame. Wipe off any excess immediately, clamp together (I used elastic bands to hold it together) and leave for 24 hours. Once dry, sand off any residual glue if required. Finish with your desired finish, I used unflavoured Briwax just to bring out the grain and add a slight lustre, but you can use any suitable paint, stain or varnish.

Step 2: Drill Holes and Cut Groove

Mark up 10 holes spread equally around the top and sides of the frame, on a line equidistant from the inner and outer edges. Double check your measurements. Drill the through holes with a large drill bit such as a 10mm. This is where you will thread wires through.

Using a router, join all the 10 through holes with a straight groove at least 6mm deep, using the straight edge of the wood as a guide. This is where the wires will sit, recessed into the frame. Add a 'tail' groove to allow the cable to come out of the bottom of the frame, on the left or the right as desired.

Step 3: Fit Lamp Holders

Mount the batten lamp holders, one on top of each hole, ensuring that they are concentric with the holes and each one has the same radial orientation so it looks neat. Once the lamp holders are screwed down, unscrew the earth terminal screws, and drill through the hole and through the wood to enable the earthing wire to be fitted from behind.

Step 4: Wiring

Strip the outer sleeving off a few feet of cable, andseparate the 3 cores. Using the live and neutral wires, wire the lamp holders in parallel, starting at the opposite side to the 'tail'. You will need a few inches of wire between each one. Twist and solder the pieces of wire together before poking through the holes and screwing to the terminals.

When you get to the last lamp holder, splice in the main cable with the sleeving intact.

Wire all of the earth terminals together with earthing wire. When you get to the last terminal, splice in the earth wire from the main cable. These lamp holders need to be earthed to ensure the brass body can not become live in the event of internal wiring damage.

Cut the cable to your desired length and then fit a plug and switch.

Before plugging in, check wiring with a meter as follows, with switch switched on. There must be:

  • Continuity between neutral pin on plug and one terminal on each lamp holder
  • Continuity between live pin on plug and other terminal on each lamp holder
  • Continuity between earth pin on plug and metal body of each lamp holder.
  • No continuity between any 2 of the 3 plug pins.
  • No continuity between any pair of lamp holder terminals.
  • No continuity between any lamp holder terminal and metal body.

Step 5: Fit Mirror

Mount mirror to rear of frame using mirror corners and screws. Ensure mirror is located centrally and that bevel is not visible. Since my mirror was thinner than the mirror corners, I used a cardboard spacer on each corner cut from a cereal box. If you wish, cover mirror corners with tape or similar to prevent scratching if it will be hung on a wall.

If required, attach facility for hanging such as rings or sawtooth picture hanger. I omitted this step as it was planned to simply rest on a dresser. If it is hung on a wall, ensure it is hung securely as it will be fairly heavy.

I used long strips of wide masking tape to tape over grooves, ensuring cables stay in the grooves on the rear of the frame.

Step 6: Insert Bulbs

Insert bulbs and switch on!

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    3 years ago

    Oh My God,where did you get those sockets; they're beautiful

    Wow it looks really awesome! I love all the hand drawn steps to get through the complex bits. Thanks for sharing!