Building a DIY Mirror Frame

I’d been having a little difficulty picking out mirrors for the master bath. And by “a little difficulty” I mean that I developed a twitch in my left eye.


Since I believe that all manner of ailments can be cured with a little sawdust, I decided building a couple of simple mirror frames was just what the crazy woman with all the tools doctor ordered.

Here’s what I did:

I started with some 1×2 pine stock and a couple of 24×36 polished-edged mirrors from Lowe’s. the materials for both mirrors cost about $50 total.

The mirrors were 1/4″ thick, and I decided on a half-inch overlap for the frame, which means each piece of the frame needed a 1/4 x 1/2″ notch put in them. This is a perfect job for the router.


I’m just going to go ahead and admit (again) that the full sized router is not my favorite tool to use. It’s one of the few tools I own that doesn’t fit well in my hands and I never feel quite in control of it, which is 1.) how to go from joking about losing a finger to actually losing a finger, and 2.) why I own a palm router (that I do love) and use the big one exclusively in the router table.

However, you can’t argue with the results. Since I chose not to miter the corners but to join them square to echo the look of the window trim, only the long sides were run all the way through the table. The notches on the short sides needed to start and stop before the end of the wood.


To attach everything I used the Kreg jig.


Now, one screw though the end of a square joint isn’t very stable, but my plan was always to glue the mirror directly to the frame. The alternative would have been to either add a little wood glue to each joint or clamp the frame together and shoot a couple of finish nails through each corner.

Here’s what it looks like from the front…


The back…


And (because I thought this would be the appropriate time to make sure it fit the actual mirror) here’s what it looks like “put together”.


That’s basically all there is to building the frame.

I first put two coats of Early American stain on both frames (to match the other wood trim in the room).


Then I decided I might like them better dark like the base of the cabinets, so I finished them out with a coat of Ebony stain and a final coat of satin poly. The mirror was attached with a bead of “mirror adhesive” (found down the caulk aisle.)


So, first, yay for having a couple of big mirrors for under $30 apiece! However, everything was not smooth-sailing for this project. Here are a couple of things I could have done better:

1. Um, actually measure the space before buying the materials and building the frames. Planning? Anyone ever heard of that? I’ve been operating with a few nails short of a full gun for the last couple of weeks, and realized when I got about here in the process…


That there is no way there will be enough room for this mirror given the backslash I had planned and the height of the light fixtures. So that was awesome.

I kind of like the mirror just leaning against the wall so I might leave them that way, or skip the backsplash, or some other variation of craziness.

2. Did you know mirrors reflect things? Like, say, the un-stained back of the frame.


It’s a crappy picture, but you can kind of see what the problem is. I didn’t think to stain the back side of the frame that touches the mirror. Luckily I only glued one mirror in and it’s not that prominent unless you’re looking for it. But if you’re wondering where the second mirror is, the stain on the inside of the notch is drying as we speak.

So, all in all it could have gone better and it could have gone worse, but for $50 and an afternoon I wouldn’t have done it any other way. And now the cat doesn’t think I’m winking at him all the time.

11 Responses

  1. Wow, I thought you’d meant for them to lean against the wall – it’s a great idea! They look very industrial cool, nice work!

  2. Biscuits would have held those corners just fine, and you could have mitered it. If you miter it, you can just cut the rabbet the full length of the molding. The only problem is getting the corners at a dead forty-five degrees–which might have brought back that twitch! Seriously, they make smaller biscuits for this very purpose. I’ve done a lot of picture framing, which is how I know.

    1. I agree it’s easier to do this with mitered corners– which I’m using on another project right now– but I chose the square look to keep it similar to the window casing. I like symmetry that way. I will look into a small biscuit joiner though… never hurts to have options.

  3. You might also want to consider the top of the line Sears router. It has two big handles on it that make it easy to control for edge routing. I have a small Porter-Cable and a large Porter-Cable, but I never use the PC for edge routing, as I prefer the control I get with the Sears. On the other hand, if those big Sears handles are the problem, the PC does have smaller handles, and you can always use an edge-routing base on it. Just trying to give you an excuse to buy some more tools!

  4. Just stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest – love it!! I need to channel some of your power tool confidence. We are in the middle of a whole-house remodel – and by “we” I mean we wussed out and left it to the pros – but there are a lot of projects I’m hoping to tackle myself. Finding a ton of good ideas here!

  5. There’s nothing wrong with a butt joint instead of a mitered corner. I have deliberately made a number of frames that way. I have also done some stuff with criss-crosses. So it is not just miter or nothing, which is kind of cool, really, because you can choose that straight joint for any reason you like. I did some smaller ones just for the hell of it. I did a couple of huge ones that way because I didn’t have the right clamps to clamp a mitered frame that size. The finished job looked slick, though, so what the hell!

    Porter Cable makes a plate joiner that will cut both standard biscuits and very small biscuits for picture framing. You use two different saw blades to accomplish this. But it works like a champ. In cases you’re looking for more tools!!!!

  6. Depending on the style of your backsplash, leaning them against the wall really looks cool!

  7. Girl! I feel your pain about the router issue. I have a WAY too powerful and too heavy router that I bought used. It doesn’t have a table stand, but I’m thinking that is what I need. Otherwise, I’m just gonna have to develop better biceps ;-D.

  8. Brittany and Kit–if you guys think those routers are too heavy and you don’t feel in control of them, you are right not to use them. I have subscribed to “Fine Woodworking” for years, and the one thing they run in every issue is this: “If something about a procedure does not feel right, DON’T DO IT. Look for another way.” I have sometimes spent a day or two making a jig for the shop that was used all of a minute or two, but I did it because the procedure without it felt dangerous to me. I am not afraid of my tools in any way, but I am very aware of what they can do to hands, and I like my hands just the way they are.

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