Walnut Craftsman Mirror Frame

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Project by brianl posted 09-14-2011 03:55 AM 4536 views 7 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my interpretation of the craftsman mirror frame that Glen Huey built in Woodworking Magazine’s 7th issue (plans are available). I say interpretation because I modified the plans to fit something a little more my size. Glen’s original design is 60 inches tall – which is just huge to me. Mine is 48”. Building the piece only took about a weekend, the inlay took another week of on and off progress and the finishing took another week.

As usual, this project was done using hand tools – no power tools. As you can see in the Sketchup file, this frame is good ole pegged mortise and tenon joinery. I don’t think it will ever come apart. The bevel on the top plate and on the bottom were simply done by hand using a low-angle block plane. The rebate for the mirror was done using my stanley 78 plane.

The round maple piece is actually a 35mm hole plug kit from Rockler. The ebony inlay I cut from a block of ebony meant for pen turning. It was a cheap way to get ebony long enough for what I needed. Once cut, I clamped a low-angle block plane in my vise and ran the strips of ebony over it until they were smooth enough.

To work the ebony into the maple and into the walnut I build a scratch stock and used it to create the openings. This way I could just run the stock down the side of the piece and know I’d stay in the line.

I’ve been playing around with finishes for some time now. Lately I’ve been working with the “Warmer Walnut” finish that Jeff Jewitt wrote up in FWW's Finishing & Refinishing Furniture. It involves dyeing the sapwood to make it closer to the heartwood, then sealing that, glazing it, then finishing with polyurethane. I personally like the contrast of sapwood and heartwood, so I just sealed with a spitcoat of blonde shellac, then glazed and finished. The topcoat is three coats of GF’s gel topcoat.

My recipe for the glaze is darker and less red than Jewitt’s. It is:
  • 1/4 Cup BLO
  • 1/4 Cup Gel Varnish
  • 3/4 tsp Burnt Umber
  • 3/4 tsp Vandyke Brown
  • 1/4 tsp Deep Azo Red

Final Thoughts
In retrospect while the inlay was a big learning experience for me, I don’t think I’d do it again. I like pieces that are clean and convey their beauty through their functionality and the inlay is just too much. That being said, it was a HUGE learning experience and overall it turned out pretty well. Aside from the inlay this was a fun project that didn’t take long and is a valuable addition to my bedroom.

-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts

2 comments so far

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3009 days

#1 posted 09-14-2011 05:29 AM

I know it’s not mine but can I disagree on the inlay? Perhaps without so much contrast? Seriously lovely piece. Thanks.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4617 days

#2 posted 09-14-2011 03:56 PM

Very nice.

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