Monday, June 14, 2010

Designing Mirror Frames

Does remodeling ever end?  Soon, actually.  Two mirrors to hang and frame then I can call it done.

I have two mirrors to install over a vanity.  From the picture, you can see where one will go (above the sink) and to the right is a glass-bloc window that pretty much lets in indirect light all day (it was 1 am when I snapped this though).  In this entry, I'm going to describe how I designed the profile as well as how I made it using power tools and hand tools.  Likely some nose picking too, but we'll skip that.

So how to design the molded edge of the frame?  The front of the vanity has vertical fluting on the stiles and is a mix of stains and glazes to look in the neighborhood of walnut.  The doors under the bowls are coopered.  My thinking went like this:
  • Use walnut for the close color, but let the grain show for interest.
  • Use a cove to work with the coopered doors.
  • Use fluting or beading to match the stile profile.
The profile of the frame can be split into two halves: half nearest the mirror and the outside half.  Both can be profiled independently.  The frame sides aren't wide enough to have more regions.

The inside half will be a cove sloping down to the mirror; a straight bevel would work, too, but the cove will be nicer.  The cove also faces the user better than a bevel, which gives more appeal.  The outside half will, in my case, have multiple beads.  I want beads since flutes would have too much "concave" in the profile between the side cove and flutes.  The multiple beads will also be subtly highlighted by the raking light during the day from the glass-bloc window.

So, now that you've seen the resulting profile, how to make it (this is just like high-school calculus! start with the answer and work backwards!)

There are hand planes with cove profiles.  You can also split a rock with a mallet.  I chose to use a router for this and steal the profile from a panel raiser with a cove.  The back-cutter wasn't involved.  I had the bit completely raised to the final position and moved the fence back until the full profile was cut.  If I instead cut the full width of the cove but raised the bit for each pass, the back-cutter would have cut my molding.  Take light passes since the resulting edge is just 3/32" (edge towards mirror); light chipout will take the edge with it.

For the multi-bead profile, I used a Bridge City Toolworks HP6v2 Multi-Plane.  This plane has interchangeable irons and soles to give a number of profiles including the multi-bead I'll use here.  (I have a more detailed introduction to this plane here.)  The iron is a little under an inch wide and happens to be just the right size for the side of my profile.  If I needed a wider swath of multi-beads, I could scoot the plane over and use a couple beads from the previous passes to anchor the fence and complete the cut.

It does make hamster bedding rather well!

Next up will be finishing the molding (dye, stain, finish) then assembling it into the mirror frames.

No Comments Yet!