DIY Shadowbox Mirror

Here is how we created a maple shadow box mirror for the powder room. Originally we sourced the Ikea Molger mirror, but in real life the shadowbox was much too deep, and would not only block the faucet, but also jut into the room too far.

This is what we made instead:

DIY Shadowbox Mirror


DIY Shadowbox Mirror




  • 1×3 @ 10′ Maple
  • Wood glue
  • 1/4″ plywood
  • Mirror
  • Small finish nails
  • PL Premium construction adhesive
  • Finishing supplies
  • Hanging kit


  • Miter Saw (optional, can have lumber cut at hardware store)
  • Clamps
  • Circular saw (optional, can have lumber cut at hardware store)
  • Sandpaper

How To:

Measure the width of your mirror and add 1/16″ to that measurement (that’s for a bit if wiggle room). Measure the thickness of your lumber. If it’s from the big box store, it’s probably 3/4″. Add that measurement to your mirror width measurement. For instance, my mirror was 23 1/2″ wide. With that + my wiggle room (1 1/16″) + wood thickness (3/4″) = 24 5/16″

Cut 4 pieces of maple to length (in my case 24 5/16″).

DIY tip. When you need to cut multiple pieces to the exact same length, try using a stop block.

Here is a quick and easy way to set up a stop block when using a miter saw on a stand. On your stand, you will notice your rollers have one side that has a flat little shelf below the roller. Flip your roller so that the shelf is facing towards your saw. Cut a scrap piece of wood to the correct length. Unplug your saw (safety first!) and lock it in the down position. Place your scrap wood up against the side of your saw blade. Move your roller up and to the side until your piece of wood is sitting flat and flush with the little shelf.

photo 1(1)
Using a scrap piece of wood to set stop block distance
photo 2(1)
Using Miter Saw Stand roller as stop block

Lock it in place (tighten the knobs). Now you have a stop block set up. Remove your scrap wood, unlock the saw and plug it back in. Take another piece of wood and do a test cut using your stop block. Measure and make sure it’s the correct length.

Using your stop block setup, cut 4 pieces of wood to length. Remember, you don’t have to measure and mark, your stop block will do all that for you!

Cutting wood to length using a stop block
Cutting wood to length using a stop block

Assemble your frame around your mirror. Why do it around the mirror? It will make sure your frame is square, and that you will be able to fit the mirror inside when you’re done. [variation note: if you have a table saw or a router, you can instead cut a channel in your frame to make the mirror slide into. We did not do this, as we are using a beveled mirror, and the bevel would be obscured by inserting the mirror into the frame.]
Using wood glue and clamps if you’ve got them (corner clamps or long bar clamps). Assemble the frame by aligning one piece of maple along one side of the mirror, making one end  flush with the side of the mirror, and the other end overhanging. Place the second piece along the next side of the mirror butting it up against the overhang of the previous piece. Continue on the same way with the rest of the pieces, until your frame is completely laid out. Apply glue, clamps and insert a few nails into the corners to hold everything in place while the glue dries. If you do not have clamps you can use screws in the corners.


photo 3(2)
Clamping, gluing & putting in a few nails with our Ryobi cordless brad nailer. The nails will keep things in place while the glue dries.

After glue is dry, unclamp, sand and finish [read my guide to wood finishing here.]

photo 4(1)
A quick sand with out Milwaukee orbital sander
We finished our mirror with Satin Polyurethane
We finished our mirror with Satin Polyurethane

Trace your frame on a piece of 1/4 plywood and cut it to size. Using small finish nails, or a brad nail gun and a few small dabs of PL Premium adhesive attach plywood to the back of your frame. Apply PL Premium to the inside of your frame backing and glue down your mirror. Leave overnight to dry.

photo 2(2)
Install a hanging kit. A big thanks to Cindy from Creartive Custom Framing for suggesting Wallbuddies to me on Instagram. I took a trip to Cindy’s framing studio and picked up a set. They worked beautifully! They attach with a few screws into the frame, and special hangers into the wall. Easy to use, and very strong. Thanks for the help Cindy! Be sure to predrill the holes if you’re installing the brackets close to the edge of your frame. (Wouldn’t want a split now!)

There you have it, custom framed shadowbox mirror. A weekend project for under $50.

DIY Shadowbox Mirror
photo 4(3)

Materials & Tools:
Maple – 1×3 –  Downtown Lumber
Adhesive- PL Premium – Home Depot
Polyurethane – Minwax Oil Modified in Satin – Downtown Lumber
Hanging kit – Wallbuddies – Creartive Custom Framing
Mirror – Molger – Ikea
Miter Saw – Milwaukee
Orbital Sanger – Milwaukee
Nail Gun – Ryobi
Clamps – Irwin

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

three out of five

Total Cost $50

Author: Kristen

Kristen & her husband El Granto & their Vizsla Odin live in a converted Storefront in downtown Toronto.

3 thoughts on “DIY Shadowbox Mirror”

  1. Great tut!

    Any idea what the ratio of adhesive to mirror should be? I’d like to hang a large (think 8′ by 6′) mirror using this method but the last thing we need is a big-ass mirror crashing down in the middle of the night.


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