My wife was complaining about her (very) small mirror she used every day while doing makeup, and the bad lighting. So I suggested to make her a modern vanity mirror with LED. I choose LED over bulb lights because our console table is not very wide.
My main concern for this project was to choose the right LED strip in order to have the best lighting color and intensity for makeup. Turns out it's nearly impossible to find hard facts on the subject. I searched for some high quality vanity mirrors and they use a wide range of color temperatures: from 4000K to 7500K! On this beauty site, the author recommend a neutral white (4000K), so I went for this. And according to the LED color temperature chart above, it seems to be a decent choice.
The second challenge for me was making the frame with some woodworking to integrate the LED strip, as it was my first wood project which needed precise cuts. And of course, I learnt some things the hard way..
Below is the material I used for this project:
- 200 x 30 cm Oak laminated shelf (you'll need only 1/3 of it)
- 60 x 45 x 3 cm mirror
- 100 x 50 x 0.3 cm white opaque plexiglass slab (I only used three 2cm-wide strips, plus some failures)
- 5m neutral white (4000-4500K) LED strip (2m needed) (french store)
- Wood finishing : hard coat and varnish
- Wood biscuit joiner + glue
- Circular saw
Step 1: Planning
I like to start all my projects by doing a 3D model of it. It helps me visualize the final product.
Here is the SketchUp design.
Step 2: Cutting the Frame
I started by cutting 6cm wide planks with a circular saw, then cutting mitered corners with a handsaw and a guide.
If I had to make a second project like this, I think I'd buy a decent miter saw instead. The guide was helpful but cutting precise mitered corners by hand is nearly impossible.. I spent a lot of times trying to fix every edges in order to make all pieces to fit.
Step 3: Routing the Frame
Once all frame pieces was cut, I used a router to carve some spaces for both LED strips and plexiglass cover, on every one of them. On further consideration I should have temporarily assemble the frame, then route everything in a single pass for each depth. But the cuts was still pretty aligned, so it'll do for this one :)
As you can see on the pictures, I tried to fix my edges with the router, which left some burn marks but worked just fine.
I also cut 4mm-height grooves for wood biscuits with a groove router bit like this one. For the mirror grooves, a simple 3mm straight router bit was perfect.
Step 4: Assemble Frame and Mirror
After verifying the mirror was fitting properly in the frame, I put painting tape on the mirror to protect it during wood finishing step.
At this point, it was glue-time :)
Once the glue was dry, I drilled a hole for the power cord and used a mix of glue and this plank wood sawdust to fill the remaining gaps on the frame. It's a good solution to quickly fix mistakes.
Step 5: Wood Finishing
As it was my first time doing wood finishing, I didn't know how it'll render, so I did some test on a scrap wood piece.
I started with two thin layers of wood sealer (Fondur) with little small-grit sanding before each application.
Finally a thin layer of brown mat varnish gave the perfect tint for my project.
Step 6: Cutting Plexiglass
This part was the worst. Plexiglass is a pain in the a** to cut.
I tried using a jigsaw with a melamine blade but it kept going sideway, even with a fence. And the plexiglass was melting sometimes..
The best solution I found was simply by using a circular saw with a 42-tooth blade and adding 1mm on the cut width in case of issues. But I had to finish the job somehow to make it fit. Turns out a knife (beware of not scratching the plexiglass) and lots of sanding (beware of not melting the plexiglass) was the best way to do the job.
Step 7: Electronics
This part was simple. I just cut and glued 4 LED strips at the proper length and used an old power cord to connect them. The welding was so tiny, the electrical sheathing was starting to melt, but it was done quickly.
I still have to find a good-looking cord with a switch to replace the default one.
Step 8: Finish
And it's done.
This project was a very good way to learn woodworking. I think I'd make some things differently now, but it was fun. Plus, my wife is very happy with it :)