Wood Reframe of Antique 3 Mirror Medicine Cabinet?

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Old 10-03-19, 09:27 PM
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Wood Reframe of Antique 3 Mirror Medicine Cabinet?

Hello Folks,

I have an "antique", partially recessed metal medicine cabinet with a center door/mirror and two hinged side mirrors. All of the hinges have rusted and seized, and in one case sheared clear off. My first instinct was to buy a modern replacement, but I discovered that the dimensions of my recess were unique, and I was unable to find one.

That's when I got the idea.... why not reuse the existing mirrors (which are actually TOTALLY awesome), remove the metal frames, and build new wooden frames around them, mimicking the original 3 panel design??

That's where I'm stuck. I'm extremely mechanically inclined, and happen to have at my disposal (courtesy of my landlord) most every wood shop power tool you could imagine, including router table and etc., but have no experience in fabricating something like this.

I need some guidance! I am going to attempt to attach photos that show what I'm working with. [EDIT: my apologies that most of my pictures posted sideways. They were all portrait prior to posting (??)]

I'm leaning towards keeping the recessed metal box, and affixing the new wooden frames to it -- as opposed to replacing the whole box as well.

Thanks!

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Last edited by PJmax; 10-03-19 at 09:50 PM. Reason: reoriented/resized pictures
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Old 10-03-19, 09:52 PM
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As a member you have an allotment of 10mb for picture storage. You were almost at that with these pictures. Try keeping your pictures smaller like 600x600 or less.
 
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Old 10-04-19, 05:52 AM
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The big question is the hinges, are they good on the mirrors?

Somehow your going to have to match up the hinges on the mirror to the "box" that they will attach to.

Its tough to confirm from the picture but Id probably be replacing the metal since its probably going to interfere with the hinge mounting!
 
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Old 10-05-19, 09:05 PM
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Thanks for the response...

Yeah, the hinges are basically shot! That was the whole impetus for this project.

I'm convinced of the need to remove the metal from the mirrors. I think I've found enough help online to create wooden frames for the side mirrors. The big challenge is the center mirror/door, which has a real specific curve to the top of it, which I need to maintain because the mirror actually has lines on it that correspond to it.

I'm just not sure how to make that top piece. Just get a big piece of poplar and use a jigsaw to cut that curve? Or can I utilize the router somehow? I'm just too much of a noob when it comes to woodworking.
 
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Old 10-05-19, 09:09 PM
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Sorry about the pic thing. Duly noted.
 
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Old 10-06-19, 01:54 AM
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So you are planning to remove the mirrors from the metal frame they are attached to and make new wood frames which would then attach to the wood box in the wall?
 
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Old 10-07-19, 05:07 PM
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The plan is definitely to remove the mirrors from the metal frames and build new wood frames for them.

With respect to "the box", the existing box in the wall is also metal. So "Plan A" is to keep that, if possible, and attach the new wood frames to it. "Plan B" would be to build a new wood box as well -- where I would effectively be replacing the entire unit with wood, keeping only the mirrors.

My motivation in not disturbing the original metal box is to avoid the possible "can of worms effect" that I have experienced so often with anything having to do with this house, which is a 1910 Victorian.
 
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Old 10-08-19, 04:53 AM
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can of worms effect
I get that, just understand it's going to be easier to find and attach hinges from wood to wood structures vs wood to metal!
 
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Old 10-08-19, 06:28 AM
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I am assuming that the back of the mirrors are metal.
Since you are going to remove it I would do that before worrying about anything else no use spending a lot of time on it if the mirrors will not survive.

Odds are that removing it will screw up the silvering of the mirror.
In one of the pictures it looks like the silvering is already crinkling.

Looks like the metal cabinet extends out from the wall so I would attach a wood frame around that and then attach the new wood framed mirrors to that. If this is possible hinging it is still going to be a challenge
 
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Old 10-08-19, 05:07 PM
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Thank you Marq and Manden, for your replies, and thank you for the tips.

My next step is in fact to take one of the mirrors out of the frame. I think the pics I posted might be a bit deceptive due to crud on the surface of the mirror or something. In examining them first hand, I do not see any defects in the silvering. I will be extremely careful removing one, and see what happens.

The hinging is one of my bigger concerns.The original hinge on the right hand side was 18" long with a single pin that accomodated the two hinges for the main cabinet door (which opened from the left) as well as the two hinges for the right side mirror in one hinge unit. I doubt anything is on the market that could replicate that, so I have to come up with a different solution.

Thanks again for the help....
 
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Old 10-08-19, 08:34 PM
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I don't mean to be a d**k, especially since both of you indicated the same understanding, but why is it innately more difficult to connect wood and metal via a hinge? Isn't a matter of just using the proper screws on both sides?
 
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Old 10-09-19, 04:17 AM
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It is harder simply because metal is stronger.

Put a screw into 1/8 inch metal and it will hold a lot of weight.
Do the same thing with 1/8 inch wood and it will pull out fairly easily.

So your wood frame around the mirror is going to to have to be thicker than the metal frame.
I do not know exactly how you plan to mount these.
The mirrors and the frame will have a fair amount of weight so hinging strength is important.
Perhaps a piano hinge would do the job.
 
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Old 10-09-19, 06:15 PM
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Here are pics of the main mirror, removed from the metal frame.

I like manden's idea of framing the metal box with wood, because it is occurring to me that because the wood frame of the main door/mirror will necessarily be wider, the side mirrors won't clear unless they are spaced off a bit.
 
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Old 10-09-19, 06:18 PM
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Sorry -- I'm having trouble with attachments. Pics hopefully attached hereto.
 
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Old 10-09-19, 08:23 PM
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BTW, just this one mirror is almost 9lbs.
 
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Old 10-10-19, 05:08 AM
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So what did you put on the back of the mirror?
 
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Old 10-10-19, 04:01 PM
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I didn't put anything on it. That's how the mirror looked when removed from the frame and backing materials. The brown on the back is some sort of coating that apparently was used to protect the silvering (?)
The only defects in the reflective surface of the mirror correspond exactly to spots where that brown coating has worn away a bit.
 
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