We've had this gifted floor mirror that seemed to perfectly fit into a corner in our bedroom by the door. However, it turned out that due to the angle of the door, the mirror could only be tilted so much without getting hit, that we could see only about ⅔ of our bodies. What good is that? We actually made this work for an astonishing two years! Somewhere along then I came across live edge mirrors while doing a project for school including live edge. Boy was I in love, but then the prices took me back into reality and I knew I would never pay this much money for a mirror. :(
More time passed and then it hit me! I have some plywood left over from when I built my drafting table ('ible coming in the future) and what better way to use that, but to make my own (faux) live edge mirror!?
So for this project, there are two ways to go about this. I will show you what I did, which of course had to be the "hard" way, mostly because I was working with limited, leftover wood. I will talk about the other way later.
Step 1: Materials & Tools
- Mirror: for this project any basic mirror, any size will work! Mine is 20"x48" or so...
(- MDF or particle board)
- Wood Screws
- Smaller Screws (for washers)
- Large Washer (for hooks)
- Wood Glue
- Wood Stain: I used two kinds, American Walnut and Carrington
- Wood Finish: I used Poly interior semi-gloss
- Caulk (or mirror glue)
- Sander/Sand Paper
- Jig Saw + Blades
- Safety Glasses
- Work Gloves
- Rags (to apply stain)
- Brush or Paint Roller (to apply finish)
Step 2: Disassembling & Reconstruction
Let's start off by disassembling the original mirror.
I detached the back support piece, the chain and then pulled out the mirror, which was supported with cardboard and a more solid back piece that has these clamps you also see on picture frames to keep the thing in place.
I then cut off the horizontal/short piece, first the one on top. I actually did one end at a time, to keep the integrity of the square. If I would have cut both ends, I would have had to put the mirror back on my work space, align the side pieces etc., etc. and risk the mirror getting damaged in the process.
At first I decided that I could use the top piece, that I had cut off the mirror earlier, as my new screw hook, because it had a nice lip, but I later decided against that when I realized that the piece was inferior to one made of plywood. So, please just disregard that when you see the old piece in the pictures. I had a few forth and backs, since I tend to not think my steps through sometimes, unfortunately.
The piece I cut from plywood is just wide enough to hold a large washer, you'll see why in the next step.
Step 3: Making Hooks in the Back
Before attaching the new piece of plywood, that will function as the hanger for the hooks, I first had to create them.
I bought large washers (ASD kind, whatever that stands for) at Home Depot and made sure that the center holes were big enough for the screws that would go into the wall. Next up, I drilled two holes left and right of the center, so I could attach the washers to the plywood. Using a spade bit that was just a bit (no pun intended) larger than the center hole, I drilled two indentions approximately 4" away from the outside, attached the washers to the plywood and the hooks were finished.
When attaching the piece to the frame, you want to double check your work for levelness (is that a word?). I attached one side with a single screw and then used a level to determine where to add the other ones.
Step 4: Glueing the Mirror
In this step I am using caulk to glue the mirror to the wooden side pieces. There is special glue for mirrors, but just as with the plywood, regular caulk is what I had at home already.
I applied one strip/layer of caulk to the inside first, put the mirror down and pressed firmly, so the caulk would form itself around it. At this point, I have no bottom connector the way I have at the top (the plywood hook piece) to help me put the mirror in better. That also means, that the side pieces may spread and it's important to keep an eye on that so the mirror sits nice and snug.
I also applied another layer of caulk to the back side of the mirror, where it meets with the side pieces. Using just my finger or a paper towel, I spread the caulk evenly. While the caulk was still wet, I placed the cardboard and the back piece with the hooks back on as well and "closed" it up, by attaching the bottom connector now.
To make the bottom look a little nicer and finished, I attached some very thin plywood I had from the time I made wooden fenders.
While I was doing all this, the caulk hadn't set entirely, so there were some cracks, but I just applied more caulk. :P That won't be visible later on, so I wasn't too worried about appearance.
Step 5: Creating the "live Edge"
The piece of plywood I had in my garage happened to be just a bit longer than the mirror, so that worked out perfectly. I cut off the excess first and then went back to the mirror to measure how wide my live edges needed to be at least. Basically, I wanted to hide approximately 7" (see picture). Then I went back to my "drawing board" and created a pattern that resembled a live edge. I'll tell you, this is much harder than it looks. I had to actually "reset" for a second, because I was definitely overthinking it.
Now it's time to cut out your live edge, using a jig saw. It was really hard to cut some of the curves I drew, so I just did what we're taught in school when cutting with scissors. First, do a rough cut and then go back to refine it. That worked very well for me, except for the burns I created on the wood. Ups. But I sure loved the smell.
The last thing to do here is to cut the pieces to size, since mine were just a bit too long at first.
Step 6: Staining and Finishing the Wood
I decided that since I had two kinds of stain, one lighter than the other, that I would use a small brush to create a faux bark look, since bark is often still on a live edge. I drew a line along the edge of both, inside and outside of the live edges with alternating thicknesses, imitating true bark. Once that was dried, I applied stain to the whole. That caused a little of the bark/dark stain to vanish, so I reapplied another layer of dark stain.
This didn't take very long since this stain dried very quickly. The finish on the other hand took a while to dry, which is upsetting since it says it's "quick" drying. Whatever. For the inside I actually used a foam brush, for the outside I opted for a paint roller. I was much more happy with the results of the paint roller. Btw, while not using the roller, I wrapped it in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Also, be mindful of dripping stain or poly, that won't look too nice on the finished piece.
Step 7: Attaching Your Live Edges
When everything had dried, it was time to finally attach the pieces to the mirror. I opted for glue first, then screws. Not much glue is needed for this and there will still be some that will spill out. I pulled out a few clamps as well as a bunch of napkins that I used to protect the wood from the marks of the clamps. Everything was aligned well, before leaving it to dry overnight for best results.
I'm pretty sure that the glue would have been enough, however, I'd like to be safe and so I also attached four screws from the back on either side. I did this by pushing the drill bit as far back into my drill as possible, which made it short enough not to go through both layers of wood. Another option would be to insert it the normal way and then use painters tape to mark how far you want to drill.
Screws were in and I was done!
Step 8: Experimenting With Photographing a Mirror
This was actually quite a challenge, trying to get good pictures, without reflecting anything ugly.
Step 9: The Mirror in Its New Spot
Now this beautiful mirror has found its true spot on the wall and we can finally see us as a whole.
I added the picture of the level, because I was quite proud of myself when I saw how perfectly hung it was and wanted to share that with the world, haha.
Step 10: I Said There Was an Easier Way...
I mentioned earlier that there was an easier way to do this. My mirror came with a frame, but if yours doesn't or isn't wide enough to support the live edges, then you could buy some cheap MDF or particle board etc., that's larger than the mirror, extending on two sides of it. Then glue mirror in place and attach live edges using the extended spaces created from the MDF. Makes sense?
Happy making everyone.
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