A while back, my mom and dad gave Handan an old round mirror that used to hang in my sister’s bedroom back in the days of big hair and small televisions. It had a diameter of 26 inches, and it was fastened to a thick wooden backing. Like most things we collect, it was sentenced to a mandatory minimum six month stay in our maximum security basement while Handan deliberated on its fate.
It had all the attributes of a fine mirror: it was shiny, it reflected the image of a staggeringly handsome devil each time I passed in front of it, and it never once reflected the image of a vampire. A fine mirror, indeed.
The file was quickly followed with the following text exchange:
H: Hey babes?
G: [looking out the window at the snow and wondering how far I’d get trying to escape on foot before succumbing to the elements] Yes?
H: Can you make this for me?
G: [conclusion: not far enough] Of course I can, my babes 🙂
And so I was roped into making another project for Handan.
Apparently the style is “French country” or some such nonsense. I think that’s just fancy French talk for “farmhouse,” and we all know what that means, right?
Me: “Hey babes, I dropped your picture frame, and now it’s all scratched and broken!”
The Woman: “That’s okay, my babes! Now it’s farmhouse! And rustic! Hey, look, it’s even a little shabby chic! Wow, good job, my babes!”
Me: “Right! I’ll smash some more stuff…”
Okay, it wasn’t the best picture to go on, but who am I to shy away from a challenge? If my babes wanted a French country mirror, my babes was going to get a French country mirror! But that wood….what the hell was it? Bah! No matter! I’d figure it out later.
I went to the basement to see what I had on hand for lumber. Old warped pine from our Garden Shed Organization last summer? Hmmmm, maybe. But I hate working with warped wood, and this stuff was furry. I’d have to plane it, and that would destroy its “rustic charm.” (I can’t even type those words without rolling my eyes.)
I saw three 8-foot boards of 1 x 6 cedar that were left over from the garden beds Handan and I built the year before. Cedar has awesome knots. The color was pretty reddish/yellowish, but I was confident Handan could do something about that. I grabbed those pieces and set them aside.
I unscrewed the wood backing from the mirror and put the mirror aside. First, I’d need to make a template out of cardboard so I could trace the shape onto the wood. Fortunately, we had some old tri-fold poster board lying around from one of Barish’s 6th grade science projects (Which soda will explode the highest when Mentos are added to the bottle? The winner was Sprite, not Diet Coke as you may have been led to believe) Handan, anticipating my need, had already placed the poster board on my workbench. Maybe one of these days, she’ll anticipate my need for a dry martini, and one will be waiting for me when I….Oh, who am I kidding? That’ll never happen.
I then used Handan’s super-easy method to find the center of the circle.
There was a 1/2 inch bevel around the mirror, so I decided to scribe a smaller circle with a 25 inch diameter within the larger circle. This would be where I would cut, so only the flat surface of the mirror would show.
I had some thin strips of veneer lying around, so I used one to make a scriber. I drilled a small hole in one end of the strip, then I removed the bit from the drill, pushed it through the hole I’d just drilled and secured it into the center hole in the cardboard.
I then measured 1/2 inch in from the circle I had traced, drilled another small hole and then inserted a sharp pencil into that hole.
And I had my makeshift scribe. I used one hand to keep the drill bit steady in the center hole (not shown in the picture below, since I was working the camera clicker) and the other hand to scribe the circle.
With the mirror circle done, I moved on to drawing the curves of the mirror’s body. This was hard, since I did most of it freehand. I started with a compass to make the initial semicircle in the middle. From there, I worked freehand on the right side. My plan was to draw one side, cut out the shape and then use the trimmings as a template for the left side.
The outer feet looked oblong in the photo I had, so I made them that way as well. When all was drawn, I used a utility blade to cut out my pattern.
I placed the trimmings on the opposite side and traced.
I cut the left side with my blade, and the bottom part of my template was done.
I re-calibrated my makeshift scriber to mark the upper arch.
I then cut the top with my blade, and the template was almost done.
The only thing left to do was to cut out the center hole. I could have done it freehand, but the possibility of a template-ruining error was just too great, so I decided to take my original makeshift scriber and cut the strip right at the pencil hole. Instead of a pencil, I would rest a razor blade against the end of the veneer strip and rotate the strip around the face. This would have been much easier with two people!
At last, the template was done. Phew! That was a lot of work just for a template! Here it is, turned over to contrast better with the white table.
Click on ‘Page 2 of 3’ below to continue and ‘Page 3 of 3’ to download the template.