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Friday, October 18, 2013


This week, while on vacation, my folks came out to visit from Colorado.  They stayed for 5 days, and had a great time.  Prior to coming out, my Dad bought me a table saw and had it shipped to my address, plus he was bringing me a couple tools of his that he had extra with the idea we would spend a few days building something.

I thought of a couple ideas, some I drafted up in Sketchup 3D.  But the best fit for making use of his time and experience was an idea I had for the main hallway.  I needed a large, rustic, chunky mirror!

The design of the mirror came from Crate & Barrel.  They have a mirror, called the Seguro, and it is a great piece, and fitting for our hallway.  Only problem is, well, it's $900 freakin bux!!!

The colors and distressed reclaimed look is quite desirable for this mirror, it is large, chunky, and rustic, but hardly worth $900.

When my dad arrived, and we began talking about possibilities, I showed him this mirror, and he bit.  A project like this would make a perfect use of his skill, and the miter saw, and table saw I had yet to use.

The following are pics taken along the way.

We bought the wood from Lowe's, 1"x4"x10' cedar boards, chosen for their variance in color and knotted patterns.  We sawed the boards in half, lengthwise to give us 10' long 2" strips.  The 2" side would give us the depth of the mirror, giving it that chunky appeal.  One of the qualities of the Seguro, is if you look close, the wood looks cut with numerous ridges that run perpendicular to the board.  We talked about how they may have achieved this, and my Dad thought that the wood was probably old barn-wood and that was how it was cut back in the day.  Since we weren't using reclaimed barn-wood, I thought about how to replicate that texture, and so decided flaming the wood with a blow torch would do it.

So two-thirds of the boards I took a blow torch to (simple hand-held bottle of propane) and scorched the surface of 5 boards stacked together, and held with clamps.  After the board edges (what would be the face of the mirror) were thoroughly charred, I laid the stack flat on the table, took a wire brush, and scraped perpendicular to create the desired striped pattern.  You can see the effect in the 3rd camera pic above.

With two-thirds of the boards scorched and scored, we began cutting all the boards in varying lengths of 7" 9" and 12" long.  Soon we had stacks of small pieces we could begin gluing together in random places, taking care that no two stacked high, terminated at the same seem, and also taking care to place a "blonde" piece every so often to get the appearance to vary evenly.

I'll skip the details of all our screw-ups, and typical woodworking tricks of the trade, and get right to the end of staining.

I ended up using 3 different colors of stain: Ipswitch, Classic Gray, and Classic Oak.  I started first with the gray, and just painted a couple pieces with small streaks.  The gray was to give the mirror a weathered look, and simulate a real aged piece of wood.  Honestly, the gray ended up being too pronounced, less like stain and more like paint, but I will get to how I fixed that later.  I let the gray dry a few hours, then came back and stained with both the Oak, and Ipswitch, dabbing my brush into one, painting a couple pieces, then dabbing into the other to pain some more.

Once the whole mirror was painted, I could stand back and see the gray was looking a little too fabricated, so based on my Dad's recommendation, I took the blow torch, and started charring again the gray stained areas.

The big concern for all of this, is to take care that each plank piece looks unique, and no two pieces together have markings that extend into the other piece.  So after burning a few spots, places where the burnt marks bled into neighboring pieces, I was able to take some sand paper and lighten up the neighboring pieces to bring back the uniqueness, yet retain the grey-to-scorched appearance.

Here is the result...



  1. I love love your mirror. I would purchase in a heartbeat.

  2. Remarkable! Another Score for the ROME! It's beautiful!

  3. Thanks all! I had a great time making it, and a week later, I still really like it, so that is a good thing :D


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