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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Medicine Cabinet Part Two - The tale of three doors!

We are trying our hand at building a medicine cabinet. We are now working on the doors. Les successfully made the frames for the doors, three doors to be exact. Next we needed mirrors for each door but mirrors can be pricey and we are always working on small budgets. I had successfully cut glass for my bead board frames, so we decided to try cutting our own mirrors. 
We bought a used mirror from the ReStore for $3 and carefully tried our luck.
 First we measured very accurately.

Then using a metal square as a straight edge, we scored the glass. 
Immediately we snapped the mirror on the scored line. 
(This picture is only an example. I had to hold the flat part of the mirror while Les pushed on the part he snapped off.)  
We successfully cut the mirror for our first door!!! And it was pretty straight. 

Next we laid it on the back of the door frame and traced around it with a pencil.  Then we use a router (set at the same depth as the thickness of the mirror) to cut a ledge on the frame. 
 (See picture)

We followed the line exactly so we would get a good fit. Some of our mirror edges were zig-zaggy (I know that's not a word) but we made our routered edge that way.  All the mirrors fit like a puzzle piece.

Oh, don't forget to clamp the frame down while you router it!!  
Also go all the way to where the lines cross in the corners.  
(See below)

See how the mirror will just rest on the ledge? 
 (We were way impressed with ourselves about now!!)

This is the back with the mirror snugly fitting in the door.
And here is the finished product. 
( See picture below)

 We were just on cloud nine, and patting ourselves on the back!!!!!
Then the next day we tried cutting down a free mirror we already had. 
 It was big enough for the next two pieces, right?  
Our first line we scored accidentally went out into the part we wanted to keep. Knowing that would break wrong. We thought awhile and found a new plan to cut the big mirror and still get our two pieces out of it. Next break broke right through the middle of our part we needed. We finally got the second door mirror cut, but still needed one more mirror. So the next day I went and bought one more mirror from the Restore for $3. That night we successfully broke, cut or messed up that whole mirror. Why I didn't buy extra I don't know.  So the next day Les and I went to buy one more mirror.  Only there were no more mirrors at the Restore. This project was going no where fast.  I just ask if they had any mirrors hiding, YES!!!!  
Did you hear those angels singing? 
 It was a large mirror and it cost us $5 this time. We were so nervous cutting this piece it was ridiculous. We messed up the first two cuts, but finally got the piece we needed. 

Check out the trash can full of broken mirrors. 

I will share our lessons learned to those who may be crazy as I and want to cut their own mirrors or glass.
1.  Our mirrors were 1/4 inch thick.  Thinner glass or mirrors are easier.
2.  When scoring the glass do not stop, keep steady pressure as you go.  Either of these will cause the glass to brake along your weak score rather than your desired line.
3.  We found the if the glass deviated from our scoring line it broke into the supported part of the mirror.  So we began to hang the part we wanted over the edge push on it.
4.  A rubber mallet does not work to break off little pieces, it just cracks the glass like a bullet hole.
5. You can carefully break off small jagged pieces along your score with large pliers.  But it is risky.

Had our first mirror cut like the last two we would have called it a bust, so remember you  may have a few bad breaks.  But the mirrors only ended up costing a total of $11. 
Do you think we are crazy?
  Soon we will be painting and putting it all together.  Show ya more then.


Celeste B. said...

Good lessons to share! I had to replace glass in some cabinets once and after several goofs ended up going to a manufacturer and just getting the pieces I needed cut directly. It only cost $20 for the 5 pieces I needed. Of course, that was glass not mirrors.

Can't wait to see it when you get it all done.

Judy said...

How did you affix the mirror to the frame?

Remodelaholic said...

I have been looking through the master bath post and had to see this, cuz I have like 3 HUMONGOUS mirrors in our garage that I want to cut down for projects!... I will tentatively try this for sure!


CountryRefuge said...

I was an amateur stained glass artist for many years. When you work with stained glass, you are working with varying thicknesses and textures, so the score lines can become issues such as you encountered. My mentor suggested keeping two cutters on hand: the usual self-wicking cutter and the cheap kind with the ball end. Once a score is made, locate the score on the opposite side of the glass, then gently tap along the score line (again on the opposite side) starting at one edge. As you do this, your score line will begin to run along the glass. Once you have ran your score line the length of the score, the glass will break correctly & cleanly much more easily.

Not all stained glass is transparent, so this method would also translate to mirrors, just be careful to go GENTLY so you don't chip/mar the mirror backing. Once you get your run started and running correctly, it will show enough fracture ahead for you to gently move down the line. This is the only way I made curved cuts.