Here we get into the project proper.
I made a display mirror for my nephew’s wedding present. The shape of the frame was decided by the wood, and the shelves were inspired by a mirror made by a woodworker whose name I can’t remember. All the visible wood is rescued waste, but the mirror is backed by purchased cheap plywood with an apparently spalted cherry veneer.
I did not want the mirror’s frame to completely surround the mirror, but the only design idea I had when I started was that I wanted a shelf against the mirror. I had seen this before idea, and I think the reflected shelf gives a beautiful affect. Other than that, I felt that the wood itself should tell me what the design should be, so I set about opening a couple logs to see what was hidden inside.
I slabbed an Avocado branch as close as I could to down the centre, as I knew this would give me the thickest possible book matched pair of planks to work with.
I then slabbed a curved Wild Plum branch that looked like it could have some interesting grain inside. I was right. I have used the Wild Plum for the shelves. I looked at the planks for many hours on and off, and waited for the ideas to surface. I sketched out a few of the ideas that appealed to me and showed my wife. She had several comments, a few of which were incorporated into the final design. We are both quite creative, but I’m more technical, and she is more artistic. We make a good design team.
At that time, I had very few tools, so I had to get creative with how to achieve what I was looking for. The only power tools I had were an old radial arm saw, an old drill, an ancient bench grinder, a half decent orbital sander, the new chainsaw, and an even newer router (I’d never used a router before I bought my first one a few months before this project). The only hand tools I had were an old cheap set of chisels, a few half decent hand saws, some hammers, various screwdrivers and spanners, 8 clamps of various descriptions, no vice, and no plane. My workbench is a 30 year old, warped, steel framed, chipboard topped office desk that I picked up for a song from my first employer. (One day I’ll make myself a good one from rescued wood) Whenever I need a flat work surface, I swing the RAS aside and work on that table.
I had some rectangular section aluminium lying around, so I built a router sled which is a lot smaller and lighter than what you normally see, and flattened the slabs as best I could. I then photographed the Avo and played with pictures on the computer. I hadn’t even heard of SketchUp at that time, so I was using Visio to clarify my mental images.
If you compare the basic design with the finished product, you’ll notice that the upper shelf leg is now shorter, and there was no backsplash above the shelf – more on that later.
During fabrication, I realised that the shelf could not adequately support itself the way I had originally planned it, so I had to add extra support strength. I decided to make small shelf brackets from the Wild Plum for visual interest and cut the shapes you see in the pictures. I set them into the Avo with press-fit sliding dovetails about 80% of the length of the bracket leg. The shelf is not attached to the bracket at all.
The mirror glass is double-stick taped to a sheet of plywood that is trimmed back 25 mm (1”) from the exposed glass edges so you can’t readily see it, but the ply backing protrudes 50 mm past the glass in the covered edges to attach the mirror to the frame. The glass and ply are set in rabbets cut just deep enough in the frame to have them sitting flush with the back face of the frame.
The protruding ply is screwed into the frame, and screws from behind the ply go through the mirror into each of the shelf supports to hold all the layers together. I’ve used only brass screws as this mirror will live in a humid environment for most if not all of my lifetime, and rust would p* me off – BIG time. There is only one screw visible from the front of the mirror – under the upper shelf. This is as a result of “the accident” I alluded to earlier.
In the next (and last) episode I’ll go through some of the “Challenges”, and present the final project.
-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.