DIY Front Surface Mirror

I see there is a lot of laser enthusiasts on this site (including myself), so
I decided to share some of my experience of making front surface mirror.

Original idea belongs to

I used acrylic mirror for my design.
It's not the best solution but it's very easy and safe to work with and quality of mirror would be acceptable for most laser/optic applications.

So if you are interested, check out my materials:



Here's my another, more advanced, method of making FS mirrors using 
Winning Colors Stain Remover.
This safe and reliable method works with any acrylic or glass mirror.



Step 1: 1.

Procedure is simple.

Put on safety glasses and gloves.
Cut piece you need.

Step 2: 2.

Shape it.

Step 3: Remove Protective Paint From Back Side of Mirror


At first use paint remover. I think any kind will work well.
Just one thing to remember. It will dissolve acrylic, so work fast and carefully.
You can use masking tape to protect plastic from contact with paint remover.

Check back side of mirror for scratches, dents, etc...
If reflective coating is damaged from back side, paint remover will go to plastic base and pop mirror foil up.

Next, use acetone to wipe off remains of paint remover and finish cleaning.

Reflective coating is very thin, so handle it accordingly.

...
UPDATE !!!
...

Since I've discovered Winning Colors Stain Remover I stopped using any other chemicals.
It's non toxic, environment friendly, water based liquid which will not harm acrylic and your skin. 

Now procedure is even easier:
1. Pour Winning Colors Stain  Remover into proper container.
2. Drop mirror into container. Painted side up.
3. Let it soak for 30 min or more (time may depend on back paint and size of mirror).
4. If paint got loose and started peeling off, remove mirror and put into container filled with tap water or rinse it under water stream. You may use cotton balls and gently swab mirror while it immersed. Optional step is to rinse mirror with steam distilled water in order to remove any particle left from tap water.
5. Pour remaining liquid back into bottle for future use.


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    29 Discussions

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    mcm1303

    6 years ago on Introduction

    OK, I understand this thread is four years old now but in case anyone is still listening:

    How long do these front surface mirrors last? My understanding is if they are made with Silver Nitrate they will oxidize(?) or darken within a short period of time. Is that the case with acrylic mirror?

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    noahspurriermcm1303

    Reply 2 years ago

    I believe that acrylic mirrors are coated in aluminum.

    I haven't really noticed any significant changes in performance of my one year old spirograph. I agree that mirror surface could deteriorate after some time but at least it's not critical for simple laser show.

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    chaydgb

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I would never have thought of doing this! In the absence of paint remover, I looked for alternatives, and found that carburettor cleaner also works.

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    ivelin

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks a lot, just as I was contemplating making a silver mirror (which involves a lot of nasty chemicals and is generally quite a job) I bumped into this, 30 minutes later and I have a beautiful mirror for my vintage camera!

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    sgt_rock

    6 years ago on Introduction

    This product is not winners colors stain remover here in the us either. It is winning colours stain remover and is available at home depot.

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    erniehatt

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, has anyone in Australia found a suitable product.
    Im looking, will post If I find anything. Ernie

    1 reply
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    bratan

    8 years ago on Step 2

    I don't know if it's acrylic mirror I use, but even the most delicate painter's tape, will strip away pain and mirror finish when I remove it :( Good news is that you don't have to put it on at all. Instead of file I used dremel with sandpaper and it's very good for rounding square off. It melts plastic off, but leaves edges smooth, and it's really much faster than file :)

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    Vickal89

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hello

    Can you tell me which product is similar to this "Winner Colors Stain Remover"? I tried paint thinner (ruins my acryl mirror) or kitchen oil/fat cleaner (doensnt work at all), but it all fails.
    I want to avoid to run to the homeworker store thousand times always buying the wrong thing. Can you tell me which features this product must have? Unfortunaly I dont live in US so we dont have "Winner Colors". But I am looking for something similar.

    Can I use nail enamel remover for this?

    Thank you for your tutorial btw. Its great!

    3 replies
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    Vickal89Vickal89

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    tried this with fingernail paint remover from my sis. It works, but the paint is pretty persistant, so i have to scratch a little bit with my fingernails. The result is not very satisfiying (OK though, pretty scratchy).

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    Vickal89Vickal89

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    tried it with round glass mirrors today.

    Works pretty well with nail paint remover. Have to scratch though, but the mirror surface is more persistant than on glass than on acryl.

    You may need to soak glass mirror longer.
    After paint's got loose, wash mirror under stream of water and use cotton swab to clean mirror's surface.
    It always needs time to discover proper stuff. Google your local painting/cleaning suppliers and try to find WATER based paint or stain remover.
    Water based solution shouldn't dissolve acrylic ind it's much safer to work with. 

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    bratan

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I'm trying to understand the purpose of this procedure. What exactly are you removing and why? Wouldn't mirror work as is if you just glue it with non-reflective side to the fan? I'm there's a reason for this, I'm just trying to understand what it is :)

    2 replies
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    The major drawback of regular mirror is that front side of the glass partially reflects light and that forms second ghost image. I remove protective coating from back side of mirror to expose reflective silver coating. Thus I get two sided mirror. Glass side of mirror should be glued to fan i.e. mirror is turned up side down so light is not going trough glass but reflected by top surface of silver coating.

    fs-v-r.jpg

    Partially. You can make front surface mirror from regular glass mirror only problem is to cut it on small pieces and make round shape. I have no means to do that, so for round mirrors I have to use acrylic.

    Oh ok and could you reccommeend some other brands or the contence of the super strippa or where you got it and where to get the mirror for cheap because I tried one and it went all the way through sometimes and not far einough other times btw you can find glass cutters at home depot and settle for square or rectangular mirrors

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    lemursquad

    9 years ago on Step 3

    Oh, and acetone will pull off the mirror surface easily. At least it did for me with the mirrored acrylic from Tap Plastics. However if you use Mötsenböcker’s (which is water based), you won't need the acetone. After you strip, rinse the residue off with water and dry with a clean soft rag. Worked like a charm for me.