Author Topic: First project - a mirror  (Read 4248 times)

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Offline atomicmike

  • Posts: 190
    • atomicmike
First project - a mirror
« on: September 09, 2010, 06:24 PM »
Over the past couple of weeks, I've finally had some time to actually put my (relatively) new Festools to use on some actual woodworking. Up until this point, I've only had the chance to use them for framing and other work around the house. I've been remodeling a bathroom this summer, and part of that project is to build some custom built-in cabinets, as well as a mirror frame. Since the mirror frame is a much simpler project, and would give me good practice for the cabinets, I decided to tackle it as my first project.

It's a simple enough design; I'm taking cues from some existing built-in cabinetry in the butler's pantry that is original to the house (built in 1915): coped rail-and-stile construction with an ogee pattern. I purchased the Freud adjustable rail-and-stile set to route all the parts, though I used Dominos for the joinery, rather than integral or stub tenons. The wood I used was simple oak from the big box; I wanted something darker/more interesting, but since this was a first attempt, I decided to keep it simple and go with something relatively inexpensive, and easily available should I make a mistake and need more.

The finished mirror will be installed into a tiled niche using a French cleat (no tile behind the mirror itself). While I haven't documented every step of the process, I did try to take some photos along the way...

The first step was to square up the lumber and cut the parts to length. My basement workbench is currently being used as a stripping/painting station for trim, so I improvised a workbench with a scrap piece of plywood and a kitchen cart. And to make routing easier, I left the rails together back-to-back in one board, and the stiles in another. That way, the pieces were larger and easier to handle when routing.
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With everything cut down, it was on to cutting the mortises with the Domino. I hadn't originally planned on buying one so soon, but after getting my hands on one at the Intro class at Festool HQ, I realized that it would make these projects a LOT simpler. It took me all of 5 minutes to cut all the mortises (2 in each corner, so 8 total), and the only reason it took that long was the less-than-ideal clamping situation of the kitchen cart. I immediately wondered why I had just spent so much money on a tool I barely used... then I realized that making traditional mortise-and-tenon joints here would have taken me a LOT longer, been less precise, and resulted in several wasted pieces from mistakes. I'm still amazed at how perfect the alignment of the Domino mortises is.
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Next up was routing the profiles in all the various pieces. Since I don't have a router table, I used another "improvised" setup... using the edge guide and guide stops for the router on a guide rail to help provide support and alignment. This actually worked out rather well, though there were still a couple of spots where the router tipped slightly and took out a little extra, but not enough to notice it unless you already know.
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Once all the various parts were routed, I cut the individual rails and stiles out. Then a quick dry fit, followed by glue-up. I'm still amazed at how perfectly aligned the Domino joints are.
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Even without finish applied, the frame looks great. And I just can't get over those joints!
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The whole project to this point took around 4 hours, and most of that time was spent fussing around with clamps. In fact, the clamping process was so frustrating to me that I went ahead and ordered an MFT/3; I'm certain it will make the cabinet project a lot easier.

As far as applying finish to the mirror frame, I didn't take many photos (only one, in fact), but I can run through what I did. Since I used oak, I needed to fill in the pores to get things smooth. I was originally going to use the pore-filling tactic from The Wood Whisperer finishing DVD, but I also wanted to use a water-based finish on the wood, so I wasn't sure how that would work out.

Instead, I used some thinned TimberMate wood filler, which actually worked very well. I then sanded that smooth, and applied General Finishes water-based stain in walnut. Once that was dry, I gave the piece a light sanding with 320 grit Brilliant 2, and with the speed on the ETS 150 set to 1. At this point, I was very glad to have bought the MFT/3, since it made sanding the edges a lot easier.
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For the final finish, I went with General Finishes High Performance water-based polyurethane with a satin finish. I used 4 coats total, sanding lightly by hand between each with the 320 grit Brilliant 2. I'm quite pleased with the end result.
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The final step before turning it into an actual mirror was to make provisions for the cleat. I decided to use the Domino for alignment purposes, making one vertical mortise on the back of the left and right stiles, with matching mortises in the cleat. Once the mirror glass is installed, I plan on gluing the tenons in place, and adding a small screw next to it for extra strength.
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To install the wall portion of the cleat, I did a dry fit of the mirror cleat, and held the whole assembly up in place. Since there's no glass in the way yet, it was very easy to see and align everything properly. I made a reference mark, then screwed the cleat to the wall, starting at the center and working my way out. That way, I could pivot around the one screw to make sure the frame was perfectly level and aligned.
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Yesterday, I took the finished frame into a local shop to get it fitted with the mirror, and should have it back very soon. Until then, I just have one final photo of the almost finished product.
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If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I'd love to hear any questions, suggestions, or feedback.

- Mike
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 06:28 PM by atomicmike »

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Offline atomicmike

  • Posts: 190
    • atomicmike
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 02:29 PM »
I just finished installing the finished mirror, so without further ado, here's the final result!

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Offline Neill

  • Posts: 889
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 02:57 PM »
Mike,

Very nice project and thorough documentation.  I think we all love hearing not just about the construction, but also about the finishing.

Seems like once you start a project and then you realize you need this tool or that tool, it winds up costing $2,500 for a $250 mirror.  Never mind that you will have the tools for other projects.

Glad you got the practice and good luck with your cabinets.  You have now set the bar pretty high.

Neill
Kapex, Domino, MFT/3, Rotex 150 FEQ, CT 22E, TS 55, RS2E Orbital Sander, C12 Drill, 1400 Router, Rotex 90 DX, Rotex 125 FEQ, LS 130 EQ Linear, Parallel Guide Set, Deltex 93 E, Trion 300 Barrell Grip, ETS 150/3 EQ, ES125 EQ, Guide Rail Accessory Kit, Sanding Block, various rails, systainers, sortainers, vacuum hoses and accessories for various tools.

Offline Corwin

  • Posts: 2405
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 03:12 PM »
...
Next up was routing the profiles in all the various pieces. Since I don't have a router table, I used another "improvised" setup... using the edge guide and guide stops for the router on a guide rail to help provide support and alignment. This actually worked out rather well, though there were still a couple of spots where the router tipped slightly and took out a little extra, but not enough to notice it unless you already know.
(Attachment Link)
...

I think this operation would have gone better had you not used the Guide Rail.  I would have used the Edge Guide to locate off the edge of your workpiece and installed the Guide Stop as you have, but even further towards the ends of the Rods to serve to stabilize the router.  Without the Guide Rail, your router have would been sitting flat on top of your workpiece and would not have tipped -- or, at least would not have been as likely to have topped.
Looks like your rabbit joint is a hare off! ;)

Offline Wood_Junkie

  • Posts: 1313
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2010, 04:23 PM »
I just finished installing the finished mirror, so without further ado, here's the final result!

(Attachment Link)


That looks fantastic!
Thanks for the detailed walk through.   [thumbs up]

Offline Jesse Cloud

  • Posts: 1704
  • Festooling at the end of a dirt road in New Mexico
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2010, 05:35 PM »
Cool project!  Thanks for posting.

Buying the MFT was a good decision.  Its a gateway tool that opens up lots of possibilites.

Offline atomicmike

  • Posts: 190
    • atomicmike
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 12:58 AM »
I think this operation would have gone better had you not used the Guide Rail.  I would have used the Edge Guide to locate off the edge of your workpiece and installed the Guide Stop as you have, but even further towards the ends of the Rods to serve to stabilize the router.  Without the Guide Rail, your router have would been sitting flat on top of your workpiece and would not have tipped -- or, at least would not have been as likely to have topped.

I like that idea! I kept wanting some way to support the outboard side of the router, but I never thought to just remove the guide rail to remove the gap. I'll definitely give it a shot the next time I'm doing something similar.

Thanks for the tip.

Offline atomicmike

  • Posts: 190
    • atomicmike
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2010, 01:01 AM »
Buying the MFT was a good decision.  Its a gateway tool that opens up lots of possibilites.

I couldn't agree more. I've already used it for so many tasks, just this past weekend. And I already want another one, too. It's a gateway tool in more than one way.  [wink]

And a big thanks to all for the kind words. Being my first project, it's nice to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks it turned out well.

- Mike

Offline honeydokreg

  • Posts: 1674
    • honeydokreg@aol.com     email address
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2010, 07:46 AM »
Looks great. I bet it makes a nice reflection on you! 

Thanks for documenting this project
pay attention to the details.... they make the difference... festool does
www.builtinking.com
youtube channel:  builtinsbykreg

Offline RL

  • Posts: 3038
Re: First project - a mirror
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2010, 08:30 AM »
Good job and enjoy the MFT when it comes.

I recommend you use cauls when clamping as you may mark the wood otherwise.

Richard.