Build Your Own Basic Cheval Mirror

If you have you never given much thought to building your own basic Cheval Mirror, why not start now with the holidays coming up. Create that special touch to your bedroom, and dress with pride as you gaze into your very own custom built Cheval mirror. This easily built and economical project will add a special touch to your home with its elegance, but more importantly, because you built it. Your Cheval mirror will be free-standing, have custom knobs that will adjust to the view you require and can be made of solid oak or walnut. It will become an heirloom for your children or grandchildren.

Getting Started

Begin by cutting out and assembling two upright pieces that will house the control knob which will determine the slant or angle of view of your mirror. These should be a full 2x2x35” tall. These can be turned on a lathe for a more elaborate finish. Drill holes for attaching your legs and a stretcher, as well as the holes for the control knobs that will allow you to adjust the angle of the mirror. The legs will consist of four shaped pieces that will roughly resemble an “s.” Drill two holes at the top of each as each pair will be attached later with glue and dowels. These will be attached to the stretcher which attaches to the two 35” tall uprights. 

The stock for the mirror’s framing rails and stiles needs to be cut next. Begin by using either the table saw or a router, and after cutting out these pieces, cut a 3/8” by 3/8” deep groove in each piece to house the mirror in the mirror frame. For a professional touch, miter the stiles and rails (the frame that will house the mirror) at each end. They will also be attached later using glue and dowels or splines.

Dry-fit, Sand and Assemble

When all the pieces have been cut, dry-fit them together to insure everything fits accurately. Begin by using a round-over bit and your router, and round over all the edges of the frame, uprights, legs and the stretcher. Sand each piece with 100 grit sandpaper and work up to 220 grit. Once satisfied that everything fits well, and that you’ve attained the desired finish glue and clamp all pieces together. 

Next, apply your stain. Let this dry thoroughly. Next apply a 50-50% of varnish and mineral spirits. Let this coat dry overnight and sand lightly with 0000 grade steel wool. For the final coat of varnish and let it dry for 12 hours. Sand lightly with the steel wool and for a luxurious finish apply two coats of ordinary floor wax.

Attach the Mirror

Lay the frame on a clean surface and gluea 1/8” sheet of plywood to the mirror frame. This is necessary as a support for the mirror. Next, put down a bead of clear caulking all around the routered edge of the frame. Carefully lay the mirror in place and either secure with glass-mounting hardware or a thin piece of wooden moulding.