Willow At The Bandsaw Cutting The Scroll Work In An American Chippendale Mirror Makes A Great Gift I wrote about my wife’s (Willow’s) mission to craft mirrors for Christmas gifting. I call this a mission because once Willow decided this is what she wanted to give our family for Christmas there was no stopping her. I got my instructions – create the plans, mill the material, set up the machines and then get out of the way. I turned my shop over to a tornado. She blew through my bandsaw, Delta BOSS, sanding station, drill press, work bench, rasps and files leaving chips and dust in her wake. She left no doubt this was the first project to pass through Swamp Road Wood Works that would be completed on time. The results were every bit as stunning as the pace was fast.

The Templates And Rough Cut Scroll Work The first stop was the bandsaw. Not having a scroll saw I mounted a 1/8” blade. The design called for 1/4” tiger maple, so a 3 HP 18” bandsaw was a little overkill, but none the less made for quick and easy cutting. I printed 1:1 drawings on card stock to produce templates. Willow traced the templates onto the material and cut out the scroll work pieces, leaving the pencil marks. The edge finish was rougher than a scroll saw would produce. It was obvious there was a lot of sanding in Willow’s future. You can see from the picture below that she took to the task with a smile.

Rasps, Files And Hand Sanding Provide Great Results Many of the scroll work curves had radii smaller than the Delta BOSS or drill press would accommodate, so Willow used a combination of rasps and files followed by hand sanding. In the picture at left you can see an assortment of rasps and files behind her. All told the bandsaw work and edge cleaning took two and a half days. Fortunately the shop is cozy, brightly lit. With the radio alternately tuned to NPR and sports talk for listening pleasure what more can you ask for?

All Pieces Are Sanded And Matched With A Picture Frame

After all pieces were sanded and the picture frame molding milled, sets were chosen by matching wood grain and color. You can see one set in the picture at right. The scroll work will be inserted and glued into a 1/4” deep x 1/4” wide slot in the sides, top and bottom. The recipients will choose the finish. One very popular finish is Moser’s 1490 Golden Amber water-based aniline dye stain followed by Waterlox Original Tung Oil. This enhances the tiger stripes, making them jump out. Another finish I like is simply MinWax Wipe-On Polyurethane. I have made tiger maple tables using both finishes, a Shaker Drop Leaf Table with the Moser dye and an Office Table with the Wipe-On Poly. Both are shown on my Gallery page and both produce excellent results.

I have to agree with Willow. These will make excellent holiday gifts and will be passed down in our family for many hundreds of years, much like the mirror that inspired these reproductions. Now that’s a gift that keeps giving!

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4 Responses to “Crafting American Chippendale Mirrors Willow’s Way”

  1. Summer says:

    I hope you guys didn’t plan for the mirrors to be a surprise! They look excellent. Good work, Mom and Dad!

  2. Joe says:

    I think Mom scuttled the surprise part when she told you and Val. But she is the crafts person on this project and is doing an excellent job.


  3. David says:

    Joe –

    This is a wonderful story you are sharing!

  4. Joe says:

    Hi David,

    Willow and I are having a lot of fun with this project. We just finished gluing them up today. They should be ready for Christmas Eve.

    Happy Holidays.