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.
I cut the boards, then used my Kreg jig to drill pocket holes.
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!
When I finished cutting, I sanded the edges until they were smooth.
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 then laid the template over the cedar and traced the pattern with a pencil.
Once more, I fired up my little jigsaw and cut out the rest of the pattern.
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.
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.
I again cut out the shape with the jigsaw and sanded it until smooth.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Click on ‘Next’ below to continue and to download the template.