Late 19th Century Mirror Restore

  • Advertise with us
Project by HorizontalMike posted 03-01-2012 02:26 PM 2374 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This mirror was my Great Great Grandmother’s and I have personally had this for over 40-years, and for the last 30-years or so I could no longer hang it from the wall. The wood from the original frame had deteriorated so much that some of it felt like styrofoam and some had been eaten by a worm infestation. For a few years I would prop it up on a shelf, but for at least 20-years I just kept hauling it across the country and storing it in the garage. Much of the chipping came from that storage on concrete floors, even though I kept it wrapped in cardboard and sheets.

I built the new frame from White Ash to match my other latest project, a Barrister's Bookcase. I tried to keep the gable angle of the mirror frame the same as that on the bookcase and utilized the same Gingerbread as well. Other than that, the rest of the frame was designed as Mission/Art&Crafts in keeping with my other piece.

I thought about just replacing the mirror with “new” but I really enjoy seeing the hard long life this mirror has lived and think that that mirror, with all the pimples and scratches, adds character to the project. The glass is 5/16in beveled glass and the final mirror and frame weigh in at ~35lb.

One of these days I’ll re-glue and refinish the student desk sitting below the mirror. Yes, it is a left handed desk and I cannot remember how many times I had scramble to get one of the few of these in each of my classrooms while going to school in our old 1902 vintage school house. Quite the memories…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

10 comments so far

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3124 days

#1 posted 03-01-2012 02:41 PM

Nice work Mike and nice description about the history of it. I build mirror frames as a hobby and it’s not easy taking photos of a mirror, but you did a great job in capturing the reflection to create a picture within of the room contents. I actually have about 100 board feet of Ash I brought down to Austin from Ohio. The wood came from a huge storm damaged tree from my grandmothers front yard. It is still rough sawn from an old school saw mill which had a table saw type blade with probably a 6 foot diameter. Seeing the way your ash looks gives me motivation. :)

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2988 days

#2 posted 03-01-2012 04:30 PM

That new frame gave the mirror a whole new life, it looks really good. I am curious to see how that students desk turns out, I skipped a lot of school when I was younger so the whole concept is somewhat new to me ;-D

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7853 posts in 3596 days

#3 posted 03-02-2012 03:25 AM

Thanks for checking this out guys. Mirror frames are not necessarily the hardest things in the world to make so really didn’t expect anything in the way of comments but do appreciate them as we all do. I am just glad that I no longer have to keep that ”really need to do that” burden around my neck. Just didn’t think it would take me until nearly 60 to finally take care of it! ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3124 days

#4 posted 03-02-2012 04:03 AM

I forgot to ask earlier – what was your finishing process? Tung oil…anything else?

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View HorizontalMike's profile


7853 posts in 3596 days

#5 posted 03-02-2012 04:15 AM

Two heavy coats of Minwax pre-stain conditioner, followed by two coats of Minwax “Golden Oak” stain, and finally 6 coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish with some #0000 steel wool sanding in between. Why 6-coats?... I had to cover up some cross-grain sanding at one of the frame joints that only showed up after staining started. End result is that the mirror frame is shinier than the matching bookcase, but in living room light no one can tell but me.

FWIW, I noticed that the areas that would have blotched, really soaked up the pre-stain conditioner and they got 4-6 coats just to be sure. Conditioning before staining has really worked out and I will remember this procedure from here on out.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3124 days

#6 posted 03-02-2012 04:22 AM

Thanks very much. I will try that technique on a sample of my ash.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View mafe's profile


12527 posts in 3771 days

#7 posted 03-04-2012 12:41 PM

How wonderful, you brought life back to that beautiful old mirror, now it can fill you with joy and memory.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View KMT's profile


603 posts in 3344 days

#8 posted 03-13-2012 07:29 PM

Great job on the restoration Mike. I’m sure your Great Great Grandmother would be honored to know you restored it. Its nice to hear the stories of restorations along with the project.

-- - Martin

View Bertha's profile


13582 posts in 3375 days

#9 posted 03-13-2012 07:32 PM

Wonderful restore. Old glass has a charm that’s hard to reproduce. Nice pairing with the bookcase.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 2954 days

#10 posted 03-13-2012 08:11 PM

“Old Memories” give purpose to Restoration. Looks like a Labor of Love.

Nice craftmanship, Mike

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics