Making a Round Mirror Frame
Last year we bought a new bathroom mirror. I had seen similar mirrors in pictures and liked them, so when we came across this one we bought it and hung it in the bathroom. It came with a small level on the hanging mechanism. It was never level. Never. We took it down and re-adjusted it several times and it was level for a short period of time, then not level again. So we put it up for sale and sold it the same day. Lucky or what? Here is the old mirror.
My newest obsession, after grain sack stripes, and all things herringbone, are round mirrors. We have never had a round mirror, I think it is high time we did. Before the old mirror hit the road, we printed out a template for a round mirror to see what size worked best. We were so used to having a big mirror, we didn’t want to end up with something too small. Bigger is always better.
We decided on a 24 inch round mirror, knowing the frame would cover probably 1/2 inch or so all around. That would leave us with a 23 inch mirror. With the money from our old mirror still warm from the printer, I kid, the buyer didn’t look too sketchy, we called our local glass cutting store and placed our order. We picked it up a few days later.
That was the easy part. Now for the fun part. Building a round frame. Wish us luck. There are angles involved people. Who knew a round mirror frame had angles?
But first…wood selection. That means heading into the shipping container.
Yep, Jim selected a few boards from the pine trees we salvaged from cutting down trees at the church across the lake. I remember because we had painted the ends red to minimize cracking. Here was our score.
Since the mirror is 24 inches wide and we want the frame to be approximately 4 inches wide, we cut a template out of cardboard at 32 inches and took it into the house to see how it looked.
Then we took that same template and cut out the portion that would be mirror. Now we had the size of frame we needed to make. And with all that figured out we could start working on the wood.
We sent the boards through the planer until they were 3/4 inch thick.
Once that was done, and needing 8 boards to make up the frame, Jim started cutting the boards down to size and giving them a 45 degree angle on one end.
Here is what all 8 pieces look like.
Now it was time to get all of these attached together. We decided to do it in stages starting with attaching two boards together at a time. Jim used his biscuit jointer, glue and biscuits for this step.
At this point we had 4 sections glued up.
We let that dry overnight then headed out to finish biscuit jointing all four pieces together.
When the glue dried, we took the cardboard template and traced it onto the wood and cut it out using the jigsaw.
Next up was using the router to make a groove on the back inside edge of the frame for the mirror to recess in.
We then did a dry run placing the mirror into the groove. No dice. Nope. More cutting… routing. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until the mirror fit perfectly. When we were confident in the fit, Jim cut out the outside of the frame.
We half considered just staining it and calling it a day but our plan from the beginning was to add trim pieces all around the edge. Jim cut one out on the bandsaw as a trial to see if we would leave it plain or spend all the extra time to get the trim pieces placed. Once one piece was cut and in place we knew it would be worth the extra effort, so we forged ahead cutting and fitting all the trim.
With that finished we glued the trim in place, and tacked them with brad nails from underneath and let that dry overnight.
After sanding and more sanding, and since we were working with pine and the grain is going in every direction, we decided to use a wood conditioner on it before stain. If not there is a chance it could come out blotchy. We just brushed it on and waited a few hours.
Then it was time for stain. We used Early American stain, it is the perfect color stain in my opinion. We didn’t wipe any off like we normally do so it took a long time to dry. We left it in the workshop overnight but in the morning with the high humidity it was still tacky. We then took it into the house to finish drying.
We added a coat of wax after the stain was dry and then buffed it by hand. Now it was ready to hang.
And a little closer…
The good thing about a round mirror is it can’t hang crooked!!
Need one made? Custom size? Let us know!
I am intrigued by the construction of this round mirror frame, and would like to try making one. I am wondering how long you made each of the eight side pieces that you glued together. I have a 28″ round mirror, and would like to attempt making a frame similar to this one. I think I could work through figuring out how long they would have to be, but, if you have a formula I would appreciate looking at it.
Thanks for any assistance you may be able to provide.
Hi Don, There’s no specific formula, just some basic math to start with. Get yourself some cardboard (even paper will do) and cut out a ring for the size you want the frame to be. A 28″ round mirror you will likely want a 1/2″ rabbet to hold the glass, leaving you will 27″ of visible mirror to stare into. So that is the diameter of the inside of the ring. Then decide how wide you want the frame to be. 3″ maybe? So that means you have to add 3 + 27 + 3 = 33″ is the outside diameter of the ring. To make the frame from 8 segments, each board has to be cut at 45º on one end (8 x 45º = 360º). If you wanted to use 12 segments then each one needs to be 30º on on end (12 x 30º = 360º). You get the idea. To find out how long each segment needs to be, well the easiest way to figure that is to take a board that is more than long enough, make the miter cut, place it against another board acting as another segment. Then put the cardboard ring on top and see where it lands and how it looks. You’ll know then how long each piece needs to be.