Custom Frame for Master Bath Mirror

  • Advertise with us
Project by Gerry posted 08-22-2011 09:31 PM 3201 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project began as a relatively simple exercise in choosing the wood, cutting precise miters, finding a way to do the joinery, finishing the project, and finally installing (hanging) the finished result.

I wanted to have the same color, grain, and character of wood for the project. The cabinets in the master bath are cherry stained alder, so I chose a single, relatively straight 4/4 piece of Alder, from which I would cut all the parts. Since the final thickness of the frame was to be ½”, I figured I could keep the grain and color consistent by cutting all the parts from the same board. I brought it to the shop, let the wood acclimate for WAY longer than I had planned (1 month), and determined my plan of work.

The first step was to rough out the parts, make them square and true, and proceeded to form them to the plan. (first one of my own). Oddly enough, the top piece of the frame was true and straight, while the piece designated to be the frame bottom bowed as soon as it was cut from the board……..Oh well……

After measuring several times to be sure I was not cutting the parts too short, I began the fitting process. Good thing I’ve listened to Charles Neal, and “snuck up” on the right fit. The top and bottom parts were the right length, but the side pieces were a bit longer than I had planned. Happily, wood can be made shorter…….

As I began to plan the miter cuts, I realized the end grain to end grain joint strength would be weak. Looking in the MCLS catalog, I found their round biscuit / slot cutter solution for miter joints. Ordered it, got it in the shop, and once I made some test joints and test glue-ups, found the solution to work quite well. (See photos)

All this got me to the point of attaching the frame to the mirror. NOT an easy thing to do. Off to the hardware store for a solution. Searched for a while, and then realized the ¼” rabbet I cut into the back of the top piece of the frame gave me a ¼” lip to hold the frame in place for its entire length.

Just hanging there would not be secure, but the rabbet would support a screwed-on bracket of sorts. I found some thin metal rectangles, fashioned the brackets I needed, and screwed them to the frame. I did have to bend the bracket out slightly to fit behind the mirror. Once it was in place, it looked like it would work out.

So, then to finishing. I used the same cherry stain as was used on the cabinets, and finished the surface with an initial seal of spray shellac, followed by several coats of Poly Urethane. After the initial coats and fine sanding, the last coat went on smoothly, and looked good. Anyway, the photos tell the whole story. And, my honey is happy! Could have been a lot worse……….


-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

9 comments so far

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3521 days

#1 posted 08-22-2011 10:14 PM

Hey Gerry. Very attractive looking frame and nice approach to completing the project. Regarding the piece that bowed on you, I often find myself thinking: “Wood, I love it yet sometimes I hate it.” Again, you built a nice frame there. Congratulations.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 2474 days

#2 posted 08-22-2011 11:44 PM

How long is that? 60” 72”?
That seems a very long span for wood that thin. What is it 2-3” wide?
So here’s an idea: If the mirror is glued to the frame, then the mirror actually becomes part of the structure. But how would you glue glass to wood? Silicone! It will provide a little cushion and a pretty tight hold in shear.
I just finished a much smaller mirror (see projects) and that’s how I fastened the mirror to the frame. Mine was much smaller though. The glass is fastened to the 1/4” rabbet with 4 lines of silicone adhesive bath calk, each about 4” long.
I really like your finish though. I’m going to use biscuits on my next one.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View BCinPhx's profile


23 posts in 2922 days

#3 posted 08-23-2011 05:33 PM

So that’s what you’ve been up-to. I like it and may do something similar.
You gotta show me how to fit the brackets.

-- CPT Bill - No matter how many times I cut still comes up short !

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3234 days

#4 posted 08-23-2011 06:00 PM

Hi Lenny, good to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. Building the frame was more doing than I had originally thought. I also formed the edges of each piece on the router table, to match the form of the cabinetry, prior to cutting the miters and the biscuit slots.
Moshup, the mirror frame measures approx 94×39”, and is 2 1/2” wide. The 1/2 ” thickness actually was an advantage for both less weight and more flexibility. Since the mirror is attached to the wall, there is no way to clamp the frame to the mirror while the silicone cures. I tried using double sided carpet tape with some albeit limited success.
Gary, Thanks! I’ll show you the joinery bit and biscuits next time you come over. The challenges of making, forming, and joining the parts kept me busy for about a week!
Bill, Thanks. It’s getting to be time to get together and build the separator, and we can discuss the frame too….....

Thank you all for your kind and constructive comments.

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Todd Adair's profile

Todd Adair

30 posts in 2450 days

#5 posted 09-05-2011 12:19 AM

Very impressive. I have been looking to do the same thing in my own master bath. I am a handy man by trade and recently installed one of those synthetic frames that sticks to the mirror with two sided tape for a lady in my neighborhood. It looked great but she had paid over $400 for the frame and another $100 for the install. I’d be interested to know roughly how much you have invested in this project. It seems like the less expensive way to go, as well as having a better finished product.

-- Todd Adair, Suwanee, Ga.

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3234 days

#6 posted 09-05-2011 01:15 AM

Hi Todd,

Welcome to Lumberjocks! I looked at the same site that your friend bought from, and determined it would not achieve the goal i had. So, you see the result!

Being handy is of great help! I’m always trying to figure out both the best and least complex way of doing projects.

To answer your question, basically the frame came from a single 8.5 foot piece of 4/4 Alder. The frame was rough dimension cut, pieces were shaped, and joined to achieve the form you see. The wood and the extra tools needed were probably less than $60. The cost of learning the techniques is not estimatable. Just lots of shop time and thinking and planning before cutting a single piece. Once i started, the parts were all cut the same day, and cut to fit. I took my time, double checked my plan before any final dimensional cuts. As a student of Charles Niel, I “snuck up on it”

Finishing it just took time and patience. I hope this is of help. CHEERS!!


-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View danielhoer's profile


38 posts in 504 days

#7 posted 06-06-2017 01:58 PM

This mirror is gorgeous! Would you mind sharing the name of the router bit you used on the inside edges? It looks like the outside edge is just a normal roundover – but the inside edge looks very unique and beautiful! (Is it an “ogee”?) In the close up picture it almost looks like the verticle and horizontal inside edges are a different bit, but maybe that is just the lighting from the photo.

Also, was this mirror already glued/attached to your wall and you were adding a frame to it? It sounds like you mentioned not using silicone or other adhesive to connect the wood to the mirror, I’m curious to know how it all holds on (or do you just rely on the rabbet hold it in place)?

I currently have a mirror I bought for fity bucks on Criagslist – it is five feet tall and nearly 8 feet long. 1/4” thick but already weighs what feels like 90-100 pounds. It has been a much more difficult process for me to design and build a mirror frame – just the logistics of clamping and gluing and putting such long pieces together in my garage (no workbench/assembly table just sawhorses and old doors; no table saw, just a skillsaw, no clamps over 2 feet long, etc)... has really been a challenge. I found an old router but don’t have bits and haven’t used one before (although that is about to change!)

Might be more info than you care to have posted on your project page, but in the end I decided due to my lack of space, skills, and tools, I am going for the most simple way (hopefully) – I ripped strips of 6” wide 3/4” birch plywood to length and essentially built a face frame (like the ones of cabinets) – this will serve as the ‘back’ or the base which the mirror will lay on. Then I will take 3” strips of plywood (stained, finished) to make the outer frame – which will just be glued on to the base frame and will outline the glass. I’m going to paint the outside edges black or dark brown to cover up the ugly two sheets of plywood layer look… but yeah it has been very intimidating, and moving the mirror is really hard – takes several people. This project has been going on for a few weeks now because I am so slow at it. Just really impressed by how long your mirror is – this is the longest (largest) mirror project on LJ based on all my research so far. VERY nice job !

(Last question: Can I use a router bit to make a fancy profile (like yours) on plywood or will it just explode into splinters?) Thank you!

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3234 days

#8 posted 06-07-2017 12:40 AM

Hi Daniel, and thank you for your kind words.

It has been quite a while since I built this, but as I remember, my wonderful friend and teacher, Charles Neal, gave me a trick to match an existing profile. I had an older HSS Craftsman Ogee Bit ( 5/32 25587), and simply put a small bearing on the top, flush to the top of the cutter, aligned the bearing flush to a zero clearance fence ( MDF) attached to my router fence, and raised the bit until the test piece closely matched the profile on the cabinet fronts.
Yes, the mirror was already glued to the wall, so my framing options were limited. If you re-read paragraphs 5-7, you’ll see how I hung the frame on the mirror, with a little ingenuity and a lot of luck. (BTW, it is still there, 6 years later)
Also, taking your time to create something you would like is a good thing. I’ve often said if I had to do this for a living, I’d starve to death….
Re edge shaping plywood with a hand held router, I don’t think it will give you a good result. As you have described, due to the limited tools you have, it sounds like you are doing the absolute best you can.
Best of luck, and
I look forward to seeing the result!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View danielhoer's profile


38 posts in 504 days

#9 posted 06-07-2017 01:39 AM

Thank you so much for the info and your reply. I will definitely let you know when I get the project completed (very eager to be done!). Right now I am learning about glass sealers and trying to decide whether or not to ‘seal’ one of the sides to prevent the backing from getting ruined over time and turning black. When I bought the mirror a big chip was broken on one of the corners so I used a glass cutter to score a line and snapped a piece off.. to my surprise the cut was perfect! But while the other factory cut edges have been treated, I know that the fresh cut I made has not been.

If anyone has knowledge of the importance of this I would be curious to know. If not, I will try to post a link to a pic once I am done.


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics