Build a colonial mirror frame.

A Colonial Mirror Frame

Black walnut, or mahogany, is the most effective wood to use in making this simple but artistic frame. It requires a very small amount of stock, and what is used should be of a good quality and carefully worked to the given dimensions with keen tools. The stock required for the frame is as follows:

Black walnut or mahogany:

2 pieces, 27½ in. long, 1 3/8 in. wide, and ¾ in. thick.

1 piece, 22 in. long, 1 3/8 in. wide, and ¾ in. thick.

1 piece, 9¼ in. long, 1 3/8 in. wide, and ¼ in. thick.

White holly:

1 piece, 27½ in. long, 1½ in. wide, and 1/16 in. thick.

Picture board :

1 piece, 25 in. long, 9 in. wide, and l/8 in. thick.

The dimensions for the walnut or mahogany pieces are rough sizes, oversize to allow for the planing to the dimensions given in the sketch. The white holly may be procured smoothly planed on both sides and of the exact thickness required. The picture backing may be purchased in almost any store that sells frames. It is usually rough pine and inexpensive.

The first operation is to plane the frame pieces on one side and edge, using great care to insure both being perfectly straight and the edge square with the face. Gauge for, and plane to the thickness required, although this need not be exactly 5/8 in. as called for, but if the stock will stand 11/16 in. or ¾ in. do not take the time to cut it down to 5/8 in. The little cross rail must be exactly 1/8 in. thick, as it is to be let 1/8 in. into the rabbet cut for the glass, which makes it come 1/8 in. back from the face of the frame when it is in place. Plane all of these pieces to the width, 1 1/8 inch.

For cutting the rabbet, a plow, or a ¾-in. grooving, plane is the best tool to use, but if neither is available a rabbet plane can be used. Be sure to plane the rabbet square and to the lines gauged for the depth and width.

To groove the pieces for the holly strips a special tool is required. This may be made of a piece of soft sheet steel or iron, which must be of a thickness to correspond to that of the holly. A piece 2 1/2 in. long, and of almost any width, win answer the purpose. File one edge of the metal straight, and cut saw teeth in it by filing straight across with a small saw file. Remove the burr raised by the filing by rubbing each side on an oilstone. Drill two holes in it for fastening with crews to a piece of hard wood. The wood serves as a fence, and if properly fastened to the metal, the teeth should cut a groove 1/16 in. deep and 3/16 in. from the edge. The holly strip should fit the groove tightly so that it can be driven home with light taps of a hammer. It is well to try the tool on a bit of waste wood first to see if it cuts the groove properly.

The holly is cut into strips, 1/8 in. wide, with a slitting gauge. An ordinary marking gauge, with the spur filed flat on each side to make a sharp, deep line, will do very well for this work. The gauging is done from both sides of the piece to make the spur cut halfway through from each side. Before the slitting is attempted, one edge of the piece is first straightened. This is readily accomplished with a fore plane, laid on its side and used as a shoot plane. The strip to be planed is laid flat on a piece of 7/8-in. stock with one edge projecting slightly. This raises it above the bench and allows the fore plane to be worked against the projecting edge.  

The strips should be applied to the groove to test the fit, and if found to be tight, they must be tapered slightly by filing or scraping the sides. If the fit is good, hot glue may be run into the grooves with a sharp stick, and the strips driven into place. They will project above the surface slightly, but no attempt should be made to plane them off flush until the glue has become thoroughly hardened; then use a sharp plane, and finish with a scraper and No. 00 sandpaper.

The miters are cut in a miter box, or planed to the exact 45° angle on a miter shoot board. Before gluing the corners, the recesses are cut for the cross rail, hut it must not be put in place until the corners of the frame have been fastened and the glue given time to dry.

 The frame may be given either a dull or bright finish. The dull finish gives a rich appearance and is very easy to apply. Give the completed frame one coat of white shellac, and when it is dry, rub the surface with very fine sandpaper until it has a smooth finish. Finish with any of the prepared waxes, being careful to follow the directions furnished.

 Before putting the board back of the mirror, be sure to place two or three sheets of clean paper on the silvered surface. The picture board is fastened with glazier's points, or with small bung-head wire nails. The back is finished by gluing a sheet of heavy wrapping paper to the edges of the frame. If the wrapping paper is moistened with a damp cloth before it is applied, it will dry out smooth and tightly drawn over the back.