Framing a Mirror: How do you affix the mirror?

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 01-21-2013 07:06 PM 33719 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1107 posts in 2559 days

01-21-2013 07:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mirror frame

My wife and I picked up a mirror from Ikea (MINDE) that I have been promising to frame for a long time. After many years sitting in our closet, I am hoping to finally get the ball rolling on knocking out this project in the spring. I have a fair amount of white oak sitting in my basement waiting to be used for this project and wanted to get some advice on how I can affix the mirror to the frame.

For the frame, I am planning on cutting rabbet along the inside edge followed by mitered in the corners, so that about ~1/2 an inch of mirror is inset into the frame on all corners. The part of the project that I have yet to nail down is how I should affix the mirror into the frame. All the web research I have done seems to advocate for adhesives in the frame. Personally I don’t like the idea of using adhesives (for example, if the mirror itself was cracked and I decided to replace just the mirror).

And so I turn to the LumberJocks community. I would like to hear some alternate ideas or techniques that any of you might have to share with a newbie woodworker. If you were going to build a mitered frame for a mirror, how would you affix the mirror?

-- paxorion

20 replies so far

View salewis3's profile


3 posts in 2464 days

#1 posted 01-21-2013 09:15 PM

Think of the mirror as if it were a picture. Set the mirror into the rabbet, use a backing board, like foamcore or cardboard, and use points or brads to secure the mirror into the frame. You won’t need any glue at all.

The use of a backing board is important so that the silvering doesn’t get scratched.

Happy framing!!

View SamuraiSaw's profile


515 posts in 2478 days

#2 posted 01-21-2013 09:23 PM

I’ve used hot glue guns. If the mirror has to be replaced, a hairdryer set on high will loosen the glue.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2810 days

#3 posted 01-21-2013 09:49 PM

I have one of these point drivers I picked up at a yard sale for three bucks (had I known how much they cost I would have picked up the second one there). It shoots about a 3/4 inch long point and it’s nice because you hold it flat to the backing of your picture or mirror so no rattling. You could try a Michaels or Hobby Lobby type place.

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3204 days

#4 posted 01-21-2013 09:55 PM

My wife was a picture framer for 30 years, salewis3 is exactly right.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View wjbclocks's profile


16 posts in 2572 days

#5 posted 01-21-2013 10:09 PM

I did work for a manufactor of picture framing mat cutters and glass cutting tools tey also make the driver points. I know that salewis3 has gining some very good advise.

-- WJ Brady

View MNgary's profile


313 posts in 2930 days

#6 posted 01-21-2013 10:54 PM

I have a 30×60 inch mirror we salvaged from a clothing store. Because of the size I used eighth inch masonite as the backer with 1-1/2 inch brads/nails driven 2/3’s into the frame 12” apart. Nails were horizontal, not through the masonite and the mirror just left loose.

The salewis3 method.

PS I predrilled for the nails using the next size smaller brad so I could push into place rather than hammer.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 2955 days

#7 posted 01-22-2013 01:04 AM

I’ve framed a fair number of mirrors and agree with the comments about doing it like a picture frame. Measure thickness of mirror, add 1/8” for backer board (hard masonite from HomeDepot, etc…) this is the the depth of your rabbit. I’ve done the rabbits with both the table saw or straight router bit and table. After finishing the frame, set your mirror in, backer board and then I like to pre-drill and put these holders about every 6 inches to sandwich in the mirror and back.

If it is a good sized mirror with some weight, I would make sure your miters are strong, perhaps throwing some biscuits in there and well glued up joints.

Good luck!

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

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2745 posts in 3435 days

#8 posted 01-22-2013 04:23 AM

I took a 36” x 36” mirror frame I made to a glazier and he cut a mirror to fit and secured it with clear silicone caulk all around. That was over 25 years ago and it still is holding up well.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2559 days

#9 posted 01-22-2013 03:29 PM

Thanks everyone for the information. I am curious about the backer board. I get the sense that most of you cut the backer board to roughly the same size as the mirror itself? I suppose I’m having a hard time visualizing what the end product is supposed to look like.

Also, I am hoping to minimize the investment into any additional tools if possible, so I thought I’d toss out an idea that you all inspired. At the moment, I believe the mirror is 3/16” If I were to cut the rabbet groove to be slightly larger than the mirror, can I perhaps pad the excess space with ~1/2” of 3/16” hardboard to fill the groove. With that padding, I could cut the backer board to be 1” larger in length and width, and use pan-head screws to hold the mirror in place. Any thoughts or glaring concerns about this approach (e.g. wood movement)?

-- paxorion

View salewis3's profile


3 posts in 2464 days

#10 posted 01-22-2013 04:23 PM


Typically, the backing board and the glass are the same size, and the frame is cut 1/8” larger leaving an allowance for the materials to expand and contract. The rabbet is typically 1/4” wide, and deep enough to accommodate the materials it contains.

Your idea of a stepped rabbet is sound, but more work than you really need to do. The steps should match the thickness of the materials so there isn’t any slop (in the thickness. There should still be an allowance.)

However, simple brads every 5-7 inches along the rail lengths will hold well and not cost much. But you should do what makes you happy.


View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2559 days

#11 posted 01-22-2013 05:50 PM

Sounds like I might be over thinking things.

Salewis3 – How would you recommend the brads go in? Would it be perpendicular through the backing board into the frame material, or should it go in at an ~45 degree angle through the backing board and into the frame?

-- paxorion

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2581 days

#12 posted 01-22-2013 06:03 PM

Pax, ditto what salewis3 advises. You won’t be disappointed. You can buy glazer points at any hardware store and some come with a small drive tool to set them into the wood. One more thing, why are you waiting until spring. It’s winter my friend, time for wifey projects. Spring is time to get outdoors.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5356 posts in 2822 days

#13 posted 01-22-2013 06:09 PM

Do the glazier points go into hardwood well?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5356 posts in 2822 days

#14 posted 01-22-2013 06:11 PM

Found this on another web site.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2559 days

#15 posted 01-22-2013 06:43 PM

Bogeyguy – I’m waiting until spring because I actually do all my work outdoors. It’s pretty painfully cold at the moment, so I’m not in a rush to dive headfirst into things. Frozen fingers will likely mean careless choices.

-- paxorion

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