Hall Mirror & Coat Rack Combo

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This article comes from Issue 24 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Customize this project to reflect your personality

Designer/Builder: Gary Carter

Both decorative and functional, this hall mirror is more than a place to check your appearance before stepping out into the world. It also holds your keys and gloves on a shelf, and has hooks for hats, scarves, and coats.

An interlocking flush-mount (Hangman) hanger keeps the frame on the level, no matter how heavily you load it, and the sturdy cope-and-stile router joinery makes for a solid skill-builder.

If you like choices, you’ll love customizing the hall mirror to suit your taste. You can build it from quartersawn red oak as we did, or use a different species. Go with a less-expensive wood, such as poplar, and paint the wood as shown opposite page, bottom left. Flank the central mirror with raised or flat wood panels, stained glass, or mirrors. (See the Convenience-Plus Buying Guide on page 59.) Any way you “look” at it, you’ll have a project that serves as a great functional accent for your home.

Painted version with raised-panels, decorative rosettes, and black hardware.

Three mirrors option.

Make a sturdy frame

1 Rip and crosscut the frame pieces from 3⁄4" stock. Referring to Figure 1 and the Cut List, size the stiles (A), mullions (B), bottom rail (C), and top rail (D). To ensure identical pieces, use a stopblock when cutting matching parts. Sand all the parts smooth. Put a chalk mark on the back of each piece as a reminder because you’ll machine them face down on your router table.

2 Chuck the Rail (or cope) bit into your table-mounted router. Clamp the fence flush with the rim of the bit’s bearing as shown in Photo A. Next, adjust the bit’s height to cut a 3/16" fillet as shown in the Stile and Rail Detail accompanying Figure 1. Cut an 8" square of 3/4" plywood as a pushblock, and rout the cope into each end of the mullions (B), bottom rail (C), and top rail (D) as shown in Photo B and where shown in Figure 1.

Use a good straightedge to align your router table’s fence with the cope cutter’s bearing.
A scrapwood pushblock guides the rail squarely past the cope cutter while preventing tear-out.

3 Chuck the Stile (or stick) bit into your table-mounted router, positioning the bearing flush with the fence. Adjust the bit’s height so the fillet matches the cope cut. Confirm the setup with a test cut in scrap that matches the thickness of your frame parts. After you’ve established the correct height of the stile bit, move the router’s fence 1⁄4" toward you. Next, refer to Figure 1 and Photo C, and make the first cut, routing along the inner edge of the stiles (A), bottom rail (C), and top rail (D), and both edges of the mullions (B). Make one more incremental pass with the fence 1⁄8" away from the bearing. Now make the final cuts with the bearing flush to the fence.

4 Dry-fit (without glue) the frame parts: stiles (A), mullions (B), bottom rail (C), and top rail (D). As shown on Figure 1, the horizontal distance between the inner molded edges of the stiles and mullions is 6". Flush the lower edge of the bottom rail with the ends of the stiles. If the edge of the top rail is not flush with the top end of the stiles, don’t worry–you can easily trim that after glue-up. Make registration marks on the back of the frame parts so you can replace the parts in their correct position.

5 Mark the location of the mounting holes for the shelf (K) and bracket (L) where shown on Figures 1 and 2. Remove the bottom rail (C) and drill the holes at your drill press. Countersink the holes on the back side of the rail.

Feed the stock at an even rate using consistent pressure against the fence and router table.

Glue up a sturdy frame

1 Ensure the frame is square by taking diagonal measurements as shown in Photo D. Unclamp the frame after the glue dries. If the ends of the stiles (A) are not even with the top edge of the top rail (D), use your table saw to trim the parts flush.

Ensure the assembly is square by checking diagonal measurements with a tape measure.

2 Chuck a 3⁄8" Rabbeting bit into your handheld router, and adjust its depth so the bearing will ride against the molded edge of the frame openings. Place the frame face down on your workbench, and rout the perimeter of the center opening as shown in Photo E to remove the lip at the back of the frame. Square the corners with a mallet and chisel as shown in the inset photo. Finally, test-fit the stained-glass or mirror panels as shown in Photo F. You want a slight (1/16") clearance all around.

3 Sand the frame to final smoothness using grits through 220. Avoid cross-grain scratching when sanding joints and ensure that the rabbets are flat.

4 Cut 160" of 1⁄4×1⁄4" panel stops (F) and set the strips aside for now. You’ll use them later to secure the mirrors and/or stained glass panels.

Use a rabbeting bit, rout a rabbet on the frame’s inside edges to remove the lip at the back of the opening. Chisel the corners square as shown.

Test-fit stained glass or mirror panels into their openings to ensure that they aren’t too tight.

Make and Install Raised Panels

  • Plane a 7×30" board to 5⁄8" thick. From this piece, cut two panels (E) that measure 1⁄8" less than the groove-to-groove size of their opening. This allows 1⁄16" of clearance all around for an easy fit and seasonal wood movement. The panels measure 5⁄8×65⁄8×121⁄8".
  • Chuck a raised-panel bit into your table-mounted router and set its bearing flush with the fence. (Adjust your router’s speed to safely use the larger bit.) Make several passes, elevating the bit after each series, until the ends and edges of the panel measure about 1⁄4" thick or until they easily slide into the grooves of the rails and stiles. Always work the ends of the panel first, then rout the long edges, as shown in Photo G. Test-fit the panels, then sand to final smoothness.
  • Stain the cove cuts prior to assembly as shown in Photo H. If you were to stain these parts after assembly, seasonal panel contraction could reveal unfinished wood. (We used quick-drying Reddish Brown TransTint mixed with alcohol.)
  • Capture the raised panels in the side frames as you begin assembling the frame, but don’t apply glue to their edges or ends. (You want them to float.) Instead, apply glue to the mating surfaces of the rails, stiles, and mullions at joint locations, carefully matching the alignment marks you made earlier. If you need to shift a mullion, protect its molded edge from damage by using a scrapwood block as shown in Photo I.
Rout the panel ends first. That way, the cuts with the grain will remove any tear-out.
To eliminate seeing bare wood later, stain the coves of the panels before assembly.

Spread the force of a mallet blow with a block to prevent damage to delicate molded edges.

Add moldings to the top and bottom

1 Chuck a 1⁄2" cove bit into your table-mounted router. Referring to the Cut List, you’ll see that you need 52" of molding for the top cove (G). Figure 2

shows the finished width of this strip as 3⁄4". However, it’s dangerous to rout such a narrow piece. Instead, rout the profile along the edge of a 3" or wider board, and then rip the molding to width at your table saw.

2 Put the Roman ogee bit into your table-mounted router to make the ogee trim (H). Referring to the Cut List and Figure 2, make a 50" length of this molding.

3 Plane 48" lengths of stock to 5⁄8" thick for the cap (I) and base (J), initially leaving the parts wider than their final dimension to permit safe shaping of the front edge. Referring to the end view of these parts in Figure 2, you’ll notice that the front edge is a subtle curve. You can form this at the router table with a 1⁄4" round-over bit set for a very shallow cut at both the top and bottom of the cap.

4 Miter the ogee trim (H), and attach it with 11⁄4" brads along the top edge and ends of the frame assembly, referring to Figures 1 and 2. Miter and attach the top cove (G), ensuring that its top edge is flush with the top edges of the ogee trim and the frame assembly.

5 Measure the overall width of the frame assembly plus the top moldings (G) and (H). Add 5⁄8", and cut the cap (I) to this length. Rout a slight 1⁄4" roundover on the cap’s ends and front edge. Then position the cap so it’s flush with the frame back and overhangs the moldings by 5⁄16" at each end. Attach it to the frame assembly with glue and 4d (11⁄2") finishing nails.

6 Measure the width of the frame assembly at its bottom end. Add 1⁄2", and cut the base (J) to this length. Rout a slight 1⁄4" roundover on the ends and front edge. Position the base so that the ends overhang both sides of the frame by 1⁄4", then glue and nail it in place.

Complete the frame with a shelf and bracket

1 Plane stock 5⁄8" thick for the shelf (K) and bracket (L). Referring to Figure 3 and using a compass, lay out the shelf. Bandsaw the shelf to shape. Smooth the curves with a sanding block.

2 Rout a 1⁄2" cove along the front edge and curved ends of the shelf (K), using the bit in your table-mounted router.

3 Using the full-sized pattern on Page 78, Bandsaw the bracket, and sand the curve to its final shape. A drill-press drum sander or oscillating spindle sander makes this easy and ensures a square edge.

4 Secure the bracket (L) to the midpoint of the shelf (K) with two 11⁄4" brads driven through the top of the shelf. Mount the assembly to the bottom rail (C) using the three screw holes located earlier. Clamp the shelf assembly in place, and use the shank holes through the frame assembly as guides to drill pilot holes into the shelf and bracket. Attach the shelf assembly with glue and screws where shown in Figures 1 and 2.

5 Drill the mounting holes for the hooks. Use the hook placement shown in the opening photo as a guide.

To prevent stripped heads or scarred wood, use a manual driver, and dip your screw threads into furniture wax to ease your driving chores.

Apply the stain and finish

1 Use water or alcohol to dissolve the TransTint Stains. Alcohol has a strong odor that requires good ventilation, but it minimizes grain raising and dries more quickly than water. A base stain of TransTint Honey Amber accentuates quartersawn figure, helping it “pop.” After the first coat dries, top it with two coats of TransTint Reddish Brown. Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly, then lightly sand it with 220-grit sandpaper.

2 Apply the clear coats. Begin with two aerosol coats of Deft Satin Clear Wood Finish, then sand with 320-grit sandpaper. Follow this with two coats of wiping oil polyurethane.

3 Install the mirror(s) and/or stained glass into their openings, securing them with 1⁄2" brads through the panel stops (F). A brad pusher eliminates the need to hammer, reducing the potential for glass breakage. Skip this step if you’ve used the raised panels.

4 Install the hanging brackets onto the top rail (D) and bottom rail (C) where shown in Figure 1. Place the frame face down onto a blanket atop your workbench. Avoid drilling the screw mounting holes too deeply.

5 Drive the screws to attach the hooks as shown in Photo J. Be cautious if you’re using solid brass screws because the metal is soft enough to snap when driven into hard wood. If the screw doesn’t drive smoothly, back it out, and drill the pilot hole larger. 

About Our Builder/Designer

Gary Carter is a long-established and recognized maker of traditional and country furniture whose work is on sale at his Colonial Retrospectives Gallery in Harrisville, West Virginia. Samples of his work can be seen on the Web at country-cabinetmaker.com.


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