Standing Mirror with Storage

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This article is from Issue 81 of Woodcraft Magazine.

This stylish project reflects beauty inside and out.

At first glance, a full-length standing mirror with a built-in storage compartment might seem as simple as hinging together two frames and bolting them between a pair of legs, but as they say, “the devil’s in the details.” The project’s size and storage requirements posed a few challenges that are sometimes overlooked by store-bought competition. Successfully solving these devilish details turned a story assignment into a lovely gift for my wife.

Finding a mirror was easy. After scouting several home centers and department stores, I picked the largest wall-hung mirror and sized the frames to suit. I soon discovered that the mirror was prone to toppling when the door was opened. To prevent this, I designed a frame retainer that could either lock the frame in place when choosing jewelry, or be pivoted out of the way to adjust the mirror’s tilt. To fine-tune storage issues, I met with my in-house jewelry consultant. This assortment of shelves and hooks holds a large collection of jewelry, but I suggest checking with your own in-house expert to ensure that the storage scheme suits the fairest one of all.


For a project cut list and PDF patterns for the feet, pivots, and knobs, go to and click on onlineEXTRAS.

Order of Work

  • Assemble the frames.
  • Make the stand to fit the frames.
  • Make the storage box.
  • Finish the frames, stand, and storage box.
  • Bolt the stand to the frame and attach the storage box.
  • Attach the jewelry-hanging hardware and install the mirror.

Buy the mirror, then build from the inside out

This project can be made from any hardwood, but I used cherry because it’s easy to work, finishes well, and is reasonably priced. You’ll need about 20 BF of 6/4 lumber.

To reduce the chance of breakage and bad luck, I suggest attaching the plywood backer to your mirror at the start of the project and then setting it safely aside. Be sure to select a mirror-safe adhesive; some will corrode the mirror silvering.

Make two frames—one for the mirror, one for storage

Building the project from the inside out ensures that the mirror fits within the front frame, and that the frames fit the stand. Since they’re identical except for the rabbets and chamfers, you can make both frames at the same time. Mill the rails and stiles to size, and then lay out and cut the bridle joints as shown.

A slotting cutter makes quick work of the 1/2"-wide rabbets, but you’ll need to identify the bit’s reach on your router table’s fence to make the stopped cuts in the stiles (see photo below). (Note that rabbets in the front and back frame are different depths.)

After assembly, finish off the rabbeted and chamfered corners as shown on the facing page. Then, install the hinges, the threaded inserts for the pivot rod and retainer, and the hinge spacers.

Make your marks. I prefer laying out the joints on all the ends of all the rails and stiles for both frames. The thin pencil lines make it easy to spot and fix fit issues.
Mortises first. To ensure centered slots, saw one cheek, then flip the workpiece and make the second. Shift the fence to clean out the middle.
Stop-cut shoulders. When equipped with a stop, a crosscut sled ensures consistent tenon shoulders on the rails. Adjust the blade height just under your line so that you can sneak up on a perfectly fitting tenon. 
Save the line. Set the fence, make your first cut, and then flip the rail and cut the opposite cheek. Sand or plane to sneak up on a snug fit. 

Stopped rabbets in the stiles. Mark the bit’s reach on the fence and the rabbet’s extents on the stiles. Pivot the stock into the bit to start the cut. Turn the router off when the lines touch at the trailing end.

Assembling the frames. Check for square as you pull the joints together, persuading them with a soft-faced mallet if necessary. Then face-clamp the corners as shown.

Chopped and sliced corners. Completing the routed rabbets and chamfers requires a little chisel work. To erase tool marks, I used a scrap of 100-grit sandpaper.
Hinge your frames together. To position the hinge, fold it over the stile, as shown. The “continuous” hinge requires two sections. Cut the hinge to fit the frame.

Make the stretcher, uprights, and feet

To allow room for the mirror to pivot, adjust the stretcher’s length so that its shoulder to shoulder distance is 2-1/2"-wider than your frames. After cutting tenon shoulders, taper its top edge as shown. Cut the cheeks to match the spacers.

After milling and mortising the uprights, I made four identical feet by tracing a stiff paper pattern, and then using a straightedge to darken the traced lines. When sawing, follow the lines around the tenon as closely you can for a seamless fit.

After sawing out the feet, I used a sliding crosscut sled to cut the tenon shoulders, and then routed the cheeks to fit the uprights.

Taper the stretcher. Cut the tenon shoulders on the stretcher before tapering on the top edge. Cut as close to your taper as you can, and then smooth the sawn edge with a sanding block.
Mortise the uprights. Rout the open-ended mortises in 1⁄4"-deep steps. The featherboards and stop help keep the bit between your lines.
Straight-grained feet. To reduce post-cut cleanup, align the foot pattern’s top edge with the edge of your stock.
Sliding sled with custom stops. To cut the tenon shoulders
on the angled feet, I pin-nailed stop strips to my crosscut sled.
I then used my router table to cut the cheeks to fit the uprights.

Assemble the uprights and finish the stand

Drill the pivot holes in the center spacers, and then glue all the spacers between the untapered uprights, as shown below. Once the glue has dried, clean up the glue joints, cut the tapers on the bandsaw, and then remove the saw marks.

Next, cut the tenon cheeks on the stretcher to fit and do a dry assembly, as shown at right. In order for the frames to fit within the stand, it’s important that the stretcher is square to both uprights. Adjust the stretcher’s shoulders as needed, and double-check the assembly during glue-up.

Spacer sandwich. Drill the pivot hole in the middle spacer, and make sure it’s properly positioned as you set the clamps.
Plane-tamed tapers. Use a bandsaw to start the taper, then clean up the saw marks with a hand plane. 

Keep it tight and square. The uprights must be parallel in order for the frames to fit. Dry-assemble the stand, check for square, and adjust the fit before applying glue. 

Custom knobs and spacers. Small parts are safer to handle when they’re produced from a longer strip of wood. After installing the inserts, saw, and then sand the parts to shape.

Make matching hardware 

Lay out the pivot points and knobs on a single piece of stock, drill the through and blind holes, and then install threaded inserts in the knobs. Next, cut out the parts, and use a belt sander to finish the shaping process. To permanently affix the threaded pivot rods, apply a few drops of CA glue or epoxy before installing into the knobs.

Bolt in the frames. Brass washers allow the knobs to tighten the frame to the pivot spacers without binding.

Finish and final assembly

After building the storage box to fit the frame, I finished the cherry parts with Arm-R-Seal and painted the plywood parts black. Follow this final assembly sequence to avoid seven years of bad luck. First, attach the stand to the empty frames. Don’t over-tighten the knobs; the frames will need to move when installing the storage box and mirror.

Next, set the storage box into the back frame, join the two with retaining tabs and then tack in the plywood back. Now, install the shelves and hanging hardware. (I used construction adhesive to attach the shelves behind the mirror.)

Before installing the mirror, flip the frame retainer down to keep the frame from tilting. Starting at the bottom, gently press the mirror into the rabbet, and insert framing push points to ensure that it stays put.

Screw in the storage box. Set the storage box into its rabbet, then use shop-made tabs and #4 × 5⁄8" screws to attach it to the back frame.
Install the back of the box. Fit the back into the rabbeted back edge of the storage box, and then tack it in place with pneumatic pin nails or brads.

Go easy with the glass. The mirror and mirror backer unit go in last. Set it in at the bottom and then gently press it in place.


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