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DIY French Country Style Mirror

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To conserve wood, Handan suggested I build it in pieces, instead of making a huge rectangle from the cedar boards and then tracing the whole piece. Handan is always more practical than I, and her suggestion saved me from buying two more boards. I started with the bottom part. I placed the template on the adjacent boards and marked where I would cut the boards to length.

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I cut the boards, then used my Kreg jig to drill pocket holes.

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I then glued and screwed the boards together and again laid the template on the boards, this time to trace the pattern.

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It was then time to cut out the pattern. For a piece this size, the bandsaw would have been unwieldy, so I decided to use my trusty old jigsaw. I don’t think I had laid a hand on it in two years, but it did a great job with this project!

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When I finished cutting, I sanded the edges until they were smooth.

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It was then time to start building up, piece-by-piece, until I had enough wood placed to trace the rest of the template.

I used the Kreg jig and glued/screwed all of the pieces in place, using the template as a reference as I went along.

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I then laid the template over the cedar and traced the pattern with a pencil.

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Once more, I fired up my little jigsaw and cut out the rest of the pattern.

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Once I finished cutting out the inner part of the circle, I grabbed my plunge router to make the recessed edge in which the mirror would sit.

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I placed the mirror over the hole and moved it around until I was reasonably confident it was centered, and then I traced around it with a pencil. This would be the 1/2 inch that would hide the mirror’s beveled edge. Since the mirror was 1/4 inch thick, I set my plunge depth to 1/4 inch as well and used a 1/2 inch diameter straight bit for the cut. I routed it freehand, since this was the back, and it didn’t need to look perfect.

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Next, I made the little “hat” that sits atop the mirror. I made it in the same way as the frame. I first drew one half of the shape, freehand, on a folded-over piece of cardboard and then cut it out while still folded over. I glued and screwed the wood together in the same way as well. I then placed the template on the wood and traced out the pattern in pencil.

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I again cut out the shape with the jigsaw and sanded it until smooth.

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I affixed the hat to the frame using wood glue. Due to its shape, I could only use clamps on part of it. For the part the clamps wouldn’t reach, I used my trusty OHRIPH (Obscenely Heavy Rusty Iron Pulley Hook). I bought OHRIPH at a warehouse sale for $50. Why? I have no idea. I guess I thought that something so irrationally heavy and covered in rust just had to be worth more than $50. Perhaps it is. I’ll never know. But it makes one hell of a clamp!

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It’s also a great age barometer. The day I can no longer lift it is the day I can officially admit that I’m old. Until then, I’m a spry spring chicken!

Once the glue dried, I hand-sanded the entire piece with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. I then took it upstairs so Handan and I could work out how to make it look like the mirror in the picture.

By this time, I had some more information on the original mirror. Handan found another image of it for me, this time on countryliving.com.

Credit: countryliving.com

Okay, look, I know what you’re thinking, madam: Well, that picture clearly shows round feet, but yours are all weird shaped!

Madam, must you be so impertinent? I understand that you prefer the round look, but my dear, adoring wife actually prefers my oblong feet! And if they are good enough for my babes, they are certainly good enough for me.

But fear not, madam! The template I’ve included for download at the end of the post has been carefully redesigned with the full, round feet!

Moving on.

So I learned that this mirror came from a shop called Bobo’s Intriguing Objects. It is no longer sold, but I did learn that it was made from reclaimed Azobe wood. Azobe wood, or Lophira alata as it is known in Latin, is a species of incredibly dense hardwood found only in equatorial Africa. It is used extensively for outdoor constructions that require strength and durability such as railroad ties or bridge planking. The wood is so hard, that it is know for quickly dulling the tools used to cut it. But perhaps its best use (in my opinion) is as an analgesic. Apparently headaches are cured by sniffing the bark. I imagine on New Year’s morning and the mornings after other local holidays, throngs of bark-sniffing natives can be found draped over Azobe trees in the hopes of dispelling the aftereffects of their carousing.

Handan’s first thought was to try white liming wax on the cedar. She tried it on a test piece, and it came out great, because the grain was raised on the test piece, and it created really cool striations of white. But I had just sanded the whole mirror frame to a uniform smoothness. How could I get that grain back? I knew that water can help raise the grain, so we wet the whole piece. But because of my sanding, it didn’t raise enough. Then it hit me: we needed fire. I grabbed my propane torch and started burning the whole face of the mirror frame.

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Click on ‘Next’ below to continue and to download the template.

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64 Comments

  1. God bless America, you two continue to blow my dress up, this is freaking gorgeous,awesome and beautiful love it xx

  2. That maths trick of Handan is just the best ever. She’s a very clever lady and I’m so glad she roped you in to make the mirror for her, Greg. You deserve lots of Martini’s for this one. It looks gorgeous.

  3. I’m speechless, that is so cool. I’m just learning to work with tools and you made it look do able. Thanks for sharing!

  4. You did a fantastic job on the mirror. But I don’t appreciate the insult of my style, even though you called your mirror French Vintage. If you could please link back to my site as part of the Copyright that is listed in the sidebar of my blog.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Jamie, but…
      1) Before leaving a bitter comment on someone else’s blog post for all the world to see, check your facts. The picture has always been linked back to your site and you would know that if you were to check your referrals on Google Analytics. If you don’t know how to do that, we can send you the screenshots for you to see that I’m not violating your copyright terms. (15+ people have clicked over to your site from that picture since I published the post)
      2) I could have not used your picture at all and only used the one Handan sent me from CountryLiving.com. (You can find it on the second page of my post.) But I thought sending at least a few readers your way would be the decent thing to do. Reading your comment, I see I was wrong.
      3) Who’s insulting “your” style? I’m poking fun (pretty innocuously) at French Country style/farmhouse style/shabby chic and basically all the named styles-of-the-moment that people get so caught up in. Did you invent that style? No? Then you’re safe – I’m not making fun of you. In fact, I’m not making fun of ANYONE. It’s humor, Jamie, and it’s what I do.
      4) If I or Handan were really down on that mirror’s style, I surely wouldn’t waste my time making it and then writing about it. I invite you to read any of my recent posts. If you are concerned that I may be making fun of your style, please see how often I make fun of myself. It might make you feel better. Heck, it might even make you laugh. That is my goal.

    2. wow jaimie did you get up on the wrong side of the bed today? greg did credit your site so much better with age right under the picture plus your watermark was on the picture also, and after going to your site and checking out a post with this mirror in it you said and i quote “If you noticed my rustic mirror before, like from a fall tour this year, you’ll notice there was a huge crack down the middle.
      I actually purchased it like this because it was $50 in a clearance section of a local store. Score!” so what are you crabbing about? you didn’t spend the hours and hours like greg did making his , so i would assume you aren’t mass producing them to sell, and i might point out you called it “my rustic mirror” not french freaking anything, so i would suggest you go pour yourself a glass of wine and chill for pity’s sake

  5. I love it guys! I’m going to totally copy this technique to give my plain kitchen clock a bigger, more decorative frame. (Don’t worry, I’ll link back to you as my inspiration- wouldn’t want to infringe copyright ?) Thanks as always for sharing xx

  6. Oh wow this looks great! Though I would have probably painted mine in a distressed white, vintage/cottage style 🙂 I’m in love with all your craft projects!!

    Thank you for sharing at the Friday Favorites linky party 🙂

    Happy Tuesday!

    *Maisy

  7. I cannot even BELIEVE you figured out how to make one of these stunning mirrors! There is hope for me yet! 🙂

    I’ve featured you in this weekend’s DIY Salvaged Junk Projects. Thanks for linking up! 🙂

  8. This is just fabulous!! Love! I am featuring you tomorrow at the Creativity Unleashed Link party!! Thanks for linking up and come vote for your project!!

  9. This mirror is just gorgeous! 🙂

    I’d like to invite you to share this at the brand-new Farmhouse Friday link party which kicks off this Friday at 6:00 am PST! I am giving away a $50 Amazon gift certificate to celebrate, and I will also share your linkup on DIY Farmhouse Style Facebook group where I admin, which at this writing has over 130k members! 🙂

    Hope to see you on Friday! 🙂

    Michelle
    The Painted Hinge
    http://www.thepaintedhinge.com

  10. Greg, OUTSTANDING!!!! May I ask, what it the Height and Width of this mirror? So incredibly GORGEOUS!!