Southern Gent’s Mirror Stand

0813-2-OpenerDiscovered in a museum basement, this Piedmont design makes heads turn.

By Glen D. Huey
Pages 51-55

My first trip to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts was for business. Robert W. Lang, the magazine’s executive editor, and I traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C., to research and select furniture projects for the book “Furniture in the Southern Style” (Popular Woodworking Books).

Upon our arrival, we did not head straight for the museum showrooms as you might expect. Instead, we headed toward a furniture junkie’s dream – a basement filled with file cabinets, each stuffed with furniture photos and related information.

Among the candidates for the book’s projects was a small mirror stand. My fondness for this form usually falls to Federal-period designs, yet there was something about this unadorned Southern shaving mirror that caught my eye. It is different; it’s captivating.

Make Mine with a Twist
A few days in the shop should be enough time to build this project. It is, from a construction point of view, simple to build. Joinery is no more complex than the typical mortise and tenon and a few rabbet joints, plus slip joints for the mirror’s frame. The mirror face and crest are applied to the frame.

To begin, mill the pieces for the base top, bottom and sides. The only catch is that the sides are wider than they are long in order to keep grain direction consistent around the base.

The base sides have simple 9⁄16″ x 3⁄4″ rabbets at the bottom and top edges. I cut those using a two-step method at my table saw; one cut is with the piece flat to the table and the other is run with the piece on edge. After the rabbets, the bottom joinery is complete. But to join the top to the base there is a twist: The rabbeted area is modified with a 45º miter on the remaining edge of the side’s rabbet as shown below.

The top is longer than the bottom to allow for the matching angle detail. With your top sized, cut a 3⁄16″ x 9⁄16″ rabbet at both ends. Your first angle cut has an uncut, square edge riding against your fence, but as you attempt the cut on the second end, the previously mitered end can slip under your fence and give you trouble. To avoid this problem, set up your cut using a piece of scrap fit between the fence and the square shoulder of your workpiece. Trim the 3⁄16″-square protrusions to a matching 45º.

All four base pieces are rabbeted for a back. I used a 1⁄4″-thick back and cut my rabbets 5⁄16″ deep.

Video: Watch the author “bump-cut” tenons at his table saw.
Blog: Read more about the interesting twist of the top’s rabbet joinery.
Plan: Download free, full-size drawings of the post stand and mirror crest designs.
Top PatternSide Pattern
In Our Store: Read articles on more Southern furniture including a cellarette, sugar chest and small slant-lid desk.
To Buy: Measured drawings of Southern furniture in “Furniture in the Southern Style Collection” (book and CD).

From the August 2013 issue #205
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