Now for the interesting part of the story
I had to work through several problems, mostly caused by my inexperience, ignorance or optimism. The first was that I ordered the wrong size mirror. It looked fine in the drawings, but when I trimmed the arms to fit each other, I had to cut more off the mitred ends than planned for aesthetic reasons. The mirror supplier had already cut the mirror but not yet delivered, so I called then with the new dimensions. I had to pay extra for the new cuts and edge grinding, and I now had some strip mirrors waiting for a use.
Then the second significant problem happened. During dry fit-up, I attached the mirror to the backing ply with double-stick tape for easier handling. Laid the frame face down without the shelves, and screwed them together. Crack!! Yes, I had over tightened the one screw and the mirror said goodbye. I now have some larger pieces of mirror looking for a new project. Needless to say, I had to order another mirror.
The time pressure was on – just a week or so to the wedding, everything was working out, and the project was nearing completion. All that remained was to trim the shelf supports flush with the underside of the shelves, surface treatment, and final assembly. I tapped the dovetails supports into their slots and ran the radial arm saw across to cut both the support and the shelf arm at the same time. This is when the final straw happened!
This was the plan
The lower frame went perfectly. The fit could not have been better. Then the side frame. The blade cut sweetly through the Avo and entered the Wild Plum. Then all hell broke loose. The blade bit into something, and the shelf arm and the support exploded. Pieces of wood flew up to 15 metres through the door and hit me all over. Fortunately I was wearing my safety glasses, as the only piece that hit my face was at my left eye. I had some interesting bruise patterns on my left arm and chest. No blood, thank goodness.
I dropped the work piece, switched off the saw, threw my gloves down and walked away. I didn’t even close the door, but went straight to the house to sit and recover from the shakes. I couldn’t even stand to take a proper look at the extent of the damage – I had put too much work into it. That was it! No wedding present.
This was reality
After making sure that I was relatively unhurt, my wife steered clear of me – she could see that I really didn’t want to talk about it. A couple of hours later she came to me and told me that she thought the project could be salvaged. She was right (of course).
I made a new shelf support and shortened the arm as little as I could to get back to almost sound wood. There is still a 50 mm crack right through the arm, but it is in a spalting line and the attempted repair is almost invisible.
The pewter dolphins on the glass cover the hole for the screw that was meant to tie into the shelf support. While re-cutting the shelf to arm joint, I went a bit far, and the joint became visible from above. It didn’t look good, so I made the decorative backsplashes to cover up the goof. The now visible screw was never even meant to be in the project.
The only screw visible from the front
The screw holds the backsplash that covers a goof.
I used no stain or dye of any description. The surface finish is one coat of very thinned sanding sealer rubbed almost through with P120 grit paper. Three coats polyurethane interior floor varnish (floor varnish must be tough right?) sanded lightly between coats with P120 grit paper to remove most of the brush marks. Two further coats of floor varnish followed by sanding with progressively finer grits up to P1000 to achieve the satin sheen shown.
The mirror is mounted on the wall using a split French cleat, and behind the ply on the left hand side is a hidden compartment that contains the provenance booklet I prepared for this special gift. My wife tatted a couple of heart doilies to fit the shelves – you can see part of one in this picture.
And to think – This wood was termite food !!
-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.