My worst day in my workshop!

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Forum topic by Hooligan posted 04-24-2015 07:10 AM 1899 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 1734 days

04-24-2015 07:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mirror broken pine

I have a client for whom I was commissioned to make a frame out of vintage reclaimed Heart Pine for an antique 30”x40” mirror that had belonged to her grandmother. The lumber that was supplied was taken from a cabin that the mirror had been in for years and was recently willed to her. The frame turned out very beautiful, the wood practically glows. As I was fitting the mirror in the frame this evening I noticed it was a little snug in the rabbet and as I attempted to remove the mirror it did what I am sure you have all already figured out, it cracked along one of the edges about 3” in from the left top corner down 16”. I am heartsick over this and tomorrow I am sure to be breaking her heart. The mirror can be salvaged and I plan on offering to do so for her and making a new frame for the smaller size. I also plan on purchasing a new mirror to place in the original frame for her as well. I placed this in safety in the workshop area because I didn’t know where else to place it and not all safety is about not getting injured. We need to remember that sometimes we are being entrusted with irreplaceable items that have worth beyond there monetary value. This has been my worst day in my workshop!

23 replies so far

View albachippie's profile


773 posts in 3276 days

#1 posted 04-24-2015 09:16 AM

Oh man, that’s tough. It’s no consolation, but I’m sure every one of us could give stories of similar situations. Old glass is so brittle, it could have happened any time, especially a piece of that size. In hindsight, letting your client know the risks in working with old mirror would have been prudent, but life would be easy if we all had 20-20 hindsight! You are offering to do more than I guess a lot of others would do to try and make up for it, and I’m sure if your client is anyway reasonable she will see that. Let us know how you get on, wishing you the best,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View bruc101's profile


1261 posts in 3783 days

#2 posted 04-24-2015 10:47 AM

If you have a good glass and mirror shop in your area it’s a possibility the mirror can e repaired if the crack is not to bad.

Sorry to hear about this. We all have bad days especially working on antiques can cause for an even worse day when something goes wrong.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2755 days

#3 posted 04-24-2015 11:24 AM

Brother, I can feel for you.
Some of the worst things happened to me when I was in the refinishing business. I didn’t know back then that when you remove an old mirror from its frame for the first time, (removing the back), the old mercury coated mirrors will tarnish almost overnight and ruin the reflection.

And broken glass in things like hutches and other items? Been there, done that. Finding a person with the old glass to get a replacement is the toughest. Modern glass does NOT look like glass from pre WWII.

We all make mistakes. There is no “will I’, but only “when I do”.
You will make the proper amends and make it right. Be lucky you have enough of the heart pine to do a smaller mirror.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View hotbyte's profile


991 posts in 3216 days

#4 posted 04-24-2015 11:47 AM

Ouch! I’m sure that hurt as bad as an actually injury. I can just imagine what an EKG would show when you realized it had cracked. Hope the client is understanding and will work with you to bring everything back to their satisfaction.

View ChuckV's profile


3184 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 04-24-2015 11:55 AM

I bet I am not the only one who cringed when reading this. I am sorry that this happened and wish you all the best in resolving the situation.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1471 days

#6 posted 04-24-2015 12:23 PM

Ever had a phantom kick-to-the-jewels? I felt it as i read the post. Man, I have done a lot of stuff but not that. I think the worst thing I have done was while installing a vanity and a sink base I hit the water line. Youd have thought I would have learned after the first time. Nope.

Sorry this happened.

(Note to self: Oversize the cut by 1/8th.)

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View bonesbr549's profile


1579 posts in 3308 days

#7 posted 04-24-2015 12:26 PM

Oh man, I cringed as I read this. Hate it man, and all you can do is try to make it right. Let us know how the conversation goes with the client.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2610 days

#8 posted 04-24-2015 12:57 PM

I bet I am not the only one who cringed when reading this.

- ChuckV

You’re definitely not alone. I read the first couple sentences and as I read it, was saying to myself, “Oh no…no…say this is not going where I thi-” and then I read that it did indeed break.

Hopefully the customer takes it well, and it sounds like you’re doing everything you can.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3306 days

#9 posted 04-24-2015 01:18 PM

Very sorry that this happened, but I’d be thrilled to have that as my worst day in the shop. Honest mistake and your solution is brilliant. Shake it off.

-- PaulMayer,

View Hooligan's profile


28 posts in 1734 days

#10 posted 04-24-2015 03:30 PM

Thanks to everyone for there kind words of encouragement. I will let everyone know how this plays out this evening. I don’t have the heart to ruin her work day.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2745 days

#11 posted 04-24-2015 04:21 PM

Antiques break and get “aged” through time. The crack proves it’s really old, in fact, they may approve of your efforts at “aging” the mirror. Look at the bright side…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View BurlyBob's profile


6033 posts in 2506 days

#12 posted 04-24-2015 04:45 PM

I can only imagine how gut wrenching that must have been. I’m doing a small job for a lady and while in my shop she asked if I did refinishing. She said she had a table from her Grandmother. She had no sooner said Grandmother and I said, “NO”!!! She said she needed to do something with the top. I said, “How about a nice table cloth?”

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3306 days

#13 posted 04-24-2015 05:00 PM

I like DKV’s perspective on this. You have actually become part of the pieces history and story, and from the perspective of some, added value to it.

My brother wrote a song about this concept that I really like (was actually performed on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion a couple years ago). You can listen to it here, perhaps as you prepare to inform your client:

-- PaulMayer,

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1463 days

#14 posted 04-24-2015 05:44 PM

You do the best you can to try and appease the client. Unfortunately damaged things with sentimental value don’t always have a rebound effect to the client when a replicated substitution is offered. It’s no longer great grans and some things can’t be replicated like carvings.

Something I learned from my own horror show/s, always create a hard copy contract for the project and add a disclaimer, “All effort to protect the item will be maintained, but know that the age of the materials raise the probability of damage at disassembly and or reassembly”. Have them acknowledge and sign for verification. The best you can offer is to replicate. One thing I never thought of checking into was insurance for costly items.

-- I meant to do that!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3107 days

#15 posted 04-24-2015 06:50 PM

What a terrible thing to happen. Maybe she will be understanding and forgiving about it. Something like that can happen to anybody no matter how much care they take and hopefully it will come out ok for you.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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