Mirror Frame Pt. 2: Rabbets, Clips, & Finish
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Mirror Frame Pt. 2: Rabbets, Clips, & Finish

August 24, 2019

(uptempo music) – Well it actually took a couple days, but I do have my mirror and
I’ve got my backer board plywood here, and I have
it sandwiched together. And we can take a measurement so I know exactly how deep to make that rabbet. And it looks like we’re coming in at about 7/16 of an inch. Of course, you’re also gonna want to check the length and the width, and make sure that that works with
a 1/2 inch wide rabbet that we’re about to put on the frame. Mine was cut dead on, so I’m ready to go with the routing. I’m gonna make the rabbet
using this rabbeting bit. You can see it’s got a nice bearing here to help guide the work, and depending on the size of the bearing, you could change the size of the rabbet. So, the one I have here
gives me about 1/2 inch from the bearing to the tip of the cutter, and that’s gonna be perfect,
so the only other thing I’ll need to set is the actual depth that we measured before. And all I need to do to make that happen is just to take my setting, here, draw with a nice sharp pencil, give myself a pencil line to reference from and then I can set my bit just like this. And here’s a quick tip for you concerning router direction: you
wanna memorize the rule. On the outside of a frame,
you go counter-clockwise. But on the inside of a
frame, you go clockwise. That’s just the way it is; memorize it. Now you’ll probably notice
that the rabbeting bit will leave us with a rounded corner, and our mirror is not
rounded, it’s square. So we need to square
this off with a chisel. We’re just going to use
the existing sections, that we’ve already routed, as a guide. And use a nice, wide chisel to kind of work my way
over to where I need to be. (hammer knocking on chisel) All right, so now we can do a little test fit with our mirror. When you just drop it
in here, just support it with your fingers from the other side. Oh yeah. That’s nice! So what do you do if
the fit isn’t perfect? Let’s say it’s just a
little bit too tight. Well, in this case, a
rabbeting bit only has so many bearings that you can use, so it’s hard to go in deeper that way, so what I would suggest
is using a pattern bit. That’s also bearing-guided, but
you can use a straight edge, just a clamp-on straight edge, and ride that across the straight edge to sort of expand this opening a little bit, and push it back a little bit further. Hopefully, you won’t have to do that but there’s definitely ways to get the job done if you need to. All right, so now let’s
cut our backer board, make sure it’s cut to the same size as our opening here, and
we should be good to go. (uptempo music) Let’s just drop this bad boy
in place, make sure it fits. Oh yeah, that’s nice. Good fit! So of course, to hold this back panel in, we’re gonna need some
sort of clip or something. So let’s make some
shop-made clips out of wood that we’ll be able to screw in and’ll hold everything in place. The clips are made from scrap
pieces from this project. While their dimensions
aren’t really critical, I milled them to 1/4 inch thick, by 1 1/4 inches wide, and 2 inches long. Each clip is then given
a gentle round-over and a light sanding. I’d like to have two pre-drilled
offset holes on each clip, so I measure in 1/2 inch from each end, and then about 1/2 inch in from the side. I can then use a countersink
bit to drill the holes. Now, with a bunch of these
clips around the perimeter, we can screw it to the frame, and have an overhanging portion that
holds the back panel in place. And we can just drive in
some of these 3/4 inch number six screws to make sure everything is firmly attached. And, I won’t use glue on this. And the other thing is
I’ll probably want to drill a little bit into the frame, to pre-drill. So we’ll do that after the stain, finish and everything is applied. This is as far as we’ll go with these. Well, there’s one more
treatment I wanna do to our frame here. I wanna give it a nice round-over all the way around the perimeter, as well as the inside
perimeter, and the back. And it’s not only gonna look good, but it’s gonna make it
feel nice to the touch, and I’ve got my trim router set up with a little tiny round-over
bit that should do the trick. Well, now let’s give our
frame a final sanding to 220, and then 320 grit. So the finishing aspects of this project are gonna be a little bit more complicated than I normally like. I usually like a nice, simple finish and with a wood like
this, it doesn’t take much to make it look absolutely beautiful. But in this case, because
it’s going in a bathroom, where cabinets are already in place, we need to match a manufactured finish that’s on those cabinets,
or at least come close. Now, the good thing is, because the grain of our frame is so busy, that’s gonna distract the
eye, and I don’t think it’s necessary for us to have
an absolutely perfect match. Futhermore, there’s a physical separation between the mirror and the
vanity that’s below it, so I’ve got one of my drawers here, so we can look at the finish
that’s already on there, sort of identify some
of the properties of it, and see if we can’t come up with something that’s in the ballpark of this finish. Let’s take a close look. So the wood here is definitely Maple, and the color isn’t all that special, it’s just kind of a medium brown color. But the thing I wanna point out is some of these darker areas
in the nooks and crannies. And this is even more evident
on the doors in the bathroom. That’s got some dark stuff in there, what that is is a glaze. And a lot of these cabinet
companies will do this. They’ll put a base color on, then they’ll put some finish on, and then they’ll use a
glaze to kind of darken and create shadow lines,
and give it sort of a, a bit of an aged look. So that’s a pretty popular thing to do. So we’ll have to try to
replicate that with our frame. Now, even though I’ve got some experience with color matching, I used
to work at a refinishing shop where that’s kind of all we did. We’d strip finishes down and try to get it back to something that matches
what the customer wanted. So we mixed a lot of our own stuff, and that gets complicated, but sometimes it’s the only
way to get the color you need. These days, I like to go simpler, I like to find off-the-shelf products that get me in the ballpark
of where I need to be, and this way I can usually
depend on that same product being available a couple
of years from now, instead of having to
look through a notebook and try to find a perfect recipe. So what I had in my finishing cabinet were a couple different things. I’ve got a wood stain here
from General Finishers called “Pecan,” and then I’ve got a
Van Dyke Brown glazed effect. And let me show you with a sample board exactly how this is gonna
go, and the progression from raw wood to finish. On the first panel, I just have my stain. This Pecan water-based stain. In the second panel, I clear-coated it just to kind of lock that color in and get ready for the glazing. In the third panel, I
have my glaze applied, its been sort of applied liberally and then wiped off, and the goal again is for it to find all those
little nooks and crannies and give it a more “aged” look, which is kind of hard to do on a flat surface like this, but anyway, on the fourth panel I
went back and applied my clear coat on top of it, just to kind of give me an idea of
what the final look would be. And this is what we would use to compare against our existing piece. Now, of course, that’s not perfect, but I honestly feel like
this is close enough to get me where I need to be. Most eyeballs will notice
the incredible figure of the frame, its gonna be,
dare I say, overwhelming. Compared to everything else in that room, it’ll definitely catch the eye. So I’m not too worried if the color is just slightly off. Using off-the-shelf products,
I’m happy with this result. Now because our stain is water-based, we have to pre-raise the grain,
before we do anything else. When freshly sanded wood gets wet, the grain raises and
the surface feels rough. Pre-raising the grain
prevents that from happening when we apply our stain or finish. So I simply wipe a liberal amount of water onto the surface of the frame. After it dries, I sand it
lightly with 320 grit paper, just enough to remove the roughness. Now I can apply the
stain using a cotton rag, also known as an old T-shirt. Water-based stains do dry quickly, so it’s important not
to drag your feet here. I’m wiping the stain on liberally, and then wiping the excess
off, one frame piece at a time. By the time you have the back done, you should feel much more
confident as you approach the more important front face and edges. And while I’ve got the stain out, I’ll throw some of that on the clips, too. Now, the good thing about the stain is that it’s pretty easy to fix mistakes. Here’s an area where I
got a little bit sloppy, and it’s already dry. A damp rag is all it takes to clean it up. The next step is to apply a clear coat. I’m using Sherwin-Williams
CAB Acrylic Lacquer with my HVLP turbine. The sheen I’m using is
called “Medium Rubbed Effect” which, to my eye, just
looks like a semi-gloss. So we need to make sure that
the material is stirred well. I then fill my cup with the finish as it passes through a paint filter. This will remove any dry
finish or impurities. I do my spraying outdoors,
which is pretty convenient in Arizona where the
temperatures are warm, the air is dry, and we don’t have much in the way of airborne bugs. I start by spraying the
edges, and then the front face of the frame. The purpose of this first coat is to simply seal in the stain. If there’s any roughness on the surface, I’ll gently sand with
320, back inside the shop. Be cautious, though, as you
don’t want to sand through that stain layer; just
knock down the major stuff. Now it’s time to apply the glaze. The glaze is not really
meant to act as a stain, which is why we sealed the surface. Instead, its purpose is to add dimension by depositing color into
the nooks and crannies of a particular piece. That includes deep grain
lines, edge profiles, corners, and, in our case, the V grooves that we cut into the joints. You simply paint it on, and then wipe off the excess, leaving material packed into the crevices. And you should note that
I’m only applying this to the front and edges of the frame. There’s really no reason
to glaze the back. And although it doesn’t really
absorb into the wood fibers, it can certainly darken the surface a bit, as some of it will adhere to the finish. The end result is a slightly
more rustic and aged effect. I let the frame dry overnight, and started with more lacquer
first thing in the morning. I sprayed the back of the frame first, applying a nice, heavy coat because this is actually the only coat that I’m gonna apply to the back. Once dry to the touch,
I can flip the frame and spray the front. I’ll apply a total of two fairly
heavy coats at this point. After a few hours of dry time, I’m gonna wet-sand the surface
to level out the finish. Now, we’re not gonna do a
piano-gloss finish here, so this is just a rough leveling. I use water as a lubricant,
and a sanding block with some 500 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Use a light touch, as the
water will suck the block down to the surface, and you can easily burn through the finish
if you’re not careful. A clean rag is then used
to wipe off the water and the finish slurry. The surface should look mostly
dull when you’re finished. It’s not perfect, but it’s
definitely better than it was. Now here’s the secret sauce: the final coat of finish will
be mostly lacquer thinner, with only a small amount of finish. I’d say maybe about 80/20. Because lacquer burns into itself, and lacquer thinner reactivates it, this thin mixture will add
a final coat of lacquer that helps level the existing surface, while providing a near-perfect
finish right off the gun. Furthermore, it has so much thinner in it that it dries incredibly fast, giving the environment less time to deposit crap into the finish. All right, so the final finish
is looking pretty darn good. Right off the gun, at this point, I don’t really think I
need to do anything else. The good thing about a
finish like this, though, is that, if you needed to,
you could certainly do some post-processing, if you will. Where you smooth it a little bit more, maybe buff it to a high
shine, whatever you wanna do. But if you can get great
results right off the gun, you don’t necessarily need to do that. Now, here’s the thing. This finish highlights that you don’t need an absolutely
perfect environment to get a good quality finish. I sprayed outside, in my driveway, and my shop is kinda dirty right now, there’s dust all over the floor, so it’s absolutely an
imperfect environment, yet somehow we get a really good finish. It just comes down to
knowing the materials, knowing a few tricks for
smoothing the surface and dealing with those airborne particles that are almost definitely
gonna settle into your finish, but there are ways to deal with ’em and get results like this. All right, so now that we
have the finish applied, we have to protect that finish because we need to put it face-down to apply the mirror and
put some of our stuff on the back of it, so
we’ll come up with a way to protect it, and get everything done. Well I don’t know about
you, but I am fond of stealing blankets from the house and bringing them into the
shop just for things like this. And, now we can put on the backer. And now I’m just gonna
place my clips around in the approximate locations
where they’re gonna go. I want two per side; I think
that should be just fine. Each clip is then lined up,
and I’ll grab my drill here just to pre-drill a little bit. Get it started. Now I’ll drive those 3/4 inch screws. There we go. So all my clips are in
place, and at this point you might be wondering, “How the heck are we
gonna hang this thing?” Well, I’ve got these
little metal clips here, they’re called Eagle clips. They are a lot like a French cleat system, where one of these goes on the frame, the other one goes on the wall, and they interlock
nicely, it’s a great way to hang something like this,
and gives it a lot of support. The problem is, though,
we have these clips here. So if I just mounted one on the frame, I would never actually
be able to make contact with the one that’s on the wall. So we’ll need to just add
a little spacer block, made out of the same material, that will go underneath
this here, all right? And let me show you how
I’m gonna attach it. Now, while one clip is good, two is gonna be better for this. So I’m gonna have one on each side, and the most important thing
is that we keep this frame nice and level, so to
ensure that, I’m going to measure up the same
distance on both sides, about 3/4 of an inch, from
where our backer board starts, put a couple pencil lines,
and then I’ll be able to attach my support piece here. And same thing on this
side, 3/4 of an inch up. Line it up, and I can attach it. And first, start with a little bit of CA glue here, super glue. To make sure it doesn’t move on me. Now all we need to do is line up the clip with the top of the support. And I realize I’m kind of
playing with fire a little bit, without some kind of a
marker to control the depth. So a little piece of tape will do. And now I’m just gonna
drive the two screws, now the key is that the screw needs to go through the clip, through the
support, and into the frame if it’s gonna be strong. All right, so I had to upgrade from the number six 3/4, to a
number eight one inch screw, and that should do the trick. Another thing to keep in mind here is if you really want to
go with prettier screws, you can certainly do that. These aren’t the most attractive ones. Of course, the same
process on the other side. All right, let’s see how we did. That’s looking pretty darn good. Needs a little Windex, but that shouldn’t be too much trouble. So at this point, the
only thing left to do is hang it in the bathroom. (easy music)

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Great video! I love the tips about finishing. That is by far my worst skill in the shop and it scares me every time.

  2. love how this turned out! its only a frame for a mirror but the way u made it is beautifully done! ..im sure ur bathroom appreciates it.;)
    its amazing how much dust/ flakes the router kicks out even w/ d/c hooked up! 
    i love those counter sinks.just picked up the 9pc from rockler store thats in my area. definitely worth the buck$ they cost.

  3. Looks great!
    One concern – On the Eagle Clips, do they have some lateral movement stoppage? Like grooves? Otherwise, I feel like when you're cleaning the mirror, you could slide it right off of the clips with a heavy sideways wipe.

  4. Looks great! I really learned a lot with the detailed videos on this project, so thank you for that!

  5. Man, I can't believe how great of information you give in each sentence. Love your work, thanks so much for sharing what you know! Beautiful frame!

  6. Don't know if i can post image links here.. but the "remember to use the router in the right direction.." has a trick for people to rembember.. point your right hand thumb in the direction of the wood, and your index finger now points in the right direction..

    Great project @Marc Spagnuolo !


  7. I'm amazed at how much detail you put into a seemingly simple project.  It really sets your work apart.  There is so much knowledge and experience packed into this 2 part series, THANK YOU for sharing!!

  8. Fantastic job. Curious though. Why use the wood tabs instead of using a point driver to keep in the mirror and backing ?

  9. Awesome series with incredible detail and very useful tips. I have one small question (maybe I missed it in the video), but did you do a finish on the backer board? I image that, with it being in a 'wet' environment, without a finish, it might swell up or otherwise cause trouble. Or did you use some sort of marine-grade plywood?

    I hope you keep doing these videos from time to time for those of us who have not (yet) subscribed to the guild.

  10. Question about the eagle clips: If someone were to bump into whatever you hang from the side, would it slip off of the clips? Not something you would have to worry about for your mirror of course.

  11. Just a hindsight is 20/20 thought.. you could have skipped the Eagle clip spacers by making two top mirror tabs extra large and screwing the Eagle clips right onto them.

  12. I really like how you use hand tools to compliment your power tools.  I never really used my chisels (a crime I know) until I saw how to use them in your videos.

  13. Sure, there aren't many airborne bugs in Arizona, but it must be really annoying to sand through all of the scorpions and lizards that end up in the finish while it dries. How come you never show that step?

  14. Hey Marc, just found your channel. We're new youtubers. Your mirror turned out great and I love those little clips – so cute. Look forward to seeing other videos.

  15. Marc, have you ever used alcohol to raise the grain.  It dries much faster the water, and raises the grain as well.  Nice job on the mirror finish.

  16. The project was cool, and more content on your free site is always appreciated.

    The star of the show, I feel, is the finish technique. Although I'm sure relatively few of us spray, the information concerning how glaze, stain, and especially lacquer works is invaluable. Listening to the old episodes of Wood Talk, you cover the different finishes fairly extensively, but it is nice to see it in action with the information at the same time. It's as valuable as an afternoon class at Woodcraft.

    I especially like the walkthrough process of the whole project, and especially the tips concerning planing across the grain, and creating the v-groove.

    Even though I may know these things because I've watched other shows, read magazine articles, or have actual experience in the matter, I watch your show on my living room television, and whatever poor sod is in the living room with me ends up watching it, too, and they begin to ask me questions about the techniques covered, and begin to understand that wood products aren't just formed from the ether, and appreciate the craft more.

    My kid has even started to show interest, mostly because of shows like yours that make woodworking seem cool. (The cool shirts, background props and the like definitely help)

    Fantastic offering, as always.

  17. When cleaning the mirror in the future, how do you keep the mirror from moving on the hanging clips? They look like they would slide. Love the look. Thanks

  18. I just counted, I subscribe to over 30 woodworking channels on YT.¬† I won't use names here but many of these are what I consider to be regular contributors to their channels – like once every week or so.¬† Unfortunately at that pace they end up turning out, to put in nicely, less than inspiring work.¬† This two part series from you is EXACTLY what I am looking for…how I want to spend my time learning and being inspired to get in my shop.¬† I'm an AZ guy that is very appreciative of what you are doing.¬† PLEASE keep it up!

  19. great videos, I was recently given a large mirror and 2 smaller ones. I was trying to come up with a plan for them and you gave me great ideas. thanks

  20. @Woodworking with The Wood Whisperer @woodwhisperer Love the Mirror and Finish.  I've been really Busy with Demolishing a House beside of us, so I've not been around in awhile because of that.  I've not even been out in the Workshop because of it either.  I need to get back in the Chat with you guys.  I also need to try and get this Scrollsaw Piece out to you, money been a little tight last few years.

  21. Thank you for sharing your expertise.  I learn so much from your videos. 
    How about a project using only hand tools?

  22. shame on you. Why is a plastic chest in your garden? should not be made of wood ??? ;-D aaaahhhmmm nice mirror frame

  23. I don't know why it took me a few months to subscribe to your channel, but I'm here now. Great job! Maple looks beautiful and I like the way you describe everything you do! Great videos man!

  24. Great job, I get inspired every time I watch one of your videos. Quick question did u not include the machining of the V-grooves or did I miss it?

  25. This is really great. The wife and I are going to attempt something like this. Side question, where about are you in AZ? I'm in the west valley :). Happy woodworking!

  26. Awesome job on a simple yet elegant design. Like to ask you, what is your HVLP and what nozzle/needle combo did you use to spray the lacquer? I have been spraying cabinet grade lacquer finishes here and there…and cannot seam to get that smooth flat, dimple-less finish with my Apollo-5. I even have a high solids cap as well. I'm close though. I'm not sure if I'm pushing too much pressure, not big enough needle, thinning out too much or not enough (usually 15~20% thinner)? Did you spray straight lacquer from the can? I also never tried the 80/20 thinning/finish step. Perhaps that might be all that I'm missing? Thanks again for doing these videos….keep up the great work!

  27. Nice job. Could have eliminated the top two wood clips, two wood spacers, and two eagle clips, with 1 French cleat made from your scraps.

  28. Your videos are great. How important is the 1/4" plywood backer? Mirrors from frame shops often have cardboard backers.

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