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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » HOW TO CUT MIRRORS TO SIZE??? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

brandonford1982
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Is there any special way to cut mirros without damaging the silver lining? I wonder if it may be easier to cut glass and then have it mirrored? What do you think?
Dreams are a matter of choice, not chance. Live your Dreams. -DC
Bill Hegbli
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Fort Wayne, Indiana
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The easiest is to take your mirror to a mirror store and have them cut and polish the ends. They will even sell you a mirror if you do not have one.

In our small town we have 4 speciality mirror stores. So you should have one near you, wherever you are in the world.
x303
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St-Hubert, Quebec, Canada.
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Yes,mirror store! regular mirrors aren't that expensive and can be cut into any design you could posibly imagine!

XBob
Magicduck
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Washington State
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If you cannot find a mirror store, most any glass store has a good selection of mirrors. Depending on the size, thickness, there are other options. Lots of home improvement stores may have one foot square mirror tiles/panels. These are not hard to cut, straight lines only, with a glass cutter. You cut them just like glass, which takes some practice but can be done. You cut on the reflective side and, do a neat job and it will break right off. If you are doing something where the edges are hidden, you may not even need that perfect a cut. All in all, however, you might be better off with the glass/mirror store. I have, on occassion, taken them a cardboard or plywood cutout exactly the size I need...for a duck bucket, and they did it for me. It was a perfect fit.
quack
Chrystal
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Canada/France
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I once dropped my mirror box..gasp! Took the shattered pieces - about 8 of them and they sort or resembled them at the mirror store and made me another asap. Cost all of three or four dollars if I remember correctly.

I recently watched a home improvement program that showed how to cut glass. It recommended a glass cutter and then suggested you cut the item and snap the piece off. Make sure you have a protective clothing and gloves.

Chrystal
Leland Stone
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Greetings, Magi:

I once worked in a cabinet shop that also employed a stained glass artist. He used a glass cutter made of an industrial diamond, which he said was not terribly expensive (circa 1985) and which made a quick, precise score on the glass. He kept it lubed while cutting, though I'm not sure why.

Might be worth investigating, though I suspect wmhegbli's suggestion makes a lot more sense. Why invest in overhead & training for such a limited run?

Leland
JoeJoe
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Myrtle Beach
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Ok, I just learned how to cut mirrors using a glass cutter. My brother used to work at a glass company, and after I broke two trying I had him cut one and got to see how it's done.

Basically, it's just like cutting glass - score a straight line on the glass side (not the mirror coated side) ... placing the mirror at the edge of a desk so that the score line is just off the desk ... lift it a few inches and carefully push it down with a little force. You should get a nice clean break. You can also use the glass cutting tool to tap the edge of the mirror at it's edge which seems to help before lifting it off the desk.

I've cut several already; it's as good as your score line. If you don't need a great edge (my edges are covered so it's not important) this works fine.
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CharlaineC
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rhode island
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When cutting glass or mirrors I like to use a 1/8 dowel placed right under the score line. and slight pressure and pop two great clean cuts. Just make sure you lube the secondary, third and fourth score well. I was told that the lube helped the diamonds to cut better.
EsnRedshirt
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Newark, CA
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Charlaine- Why are you making multiple scores?

You should only make one (and should only need one.) You're trying to cut it, not crush it. The score makes a controlled hairline fracture on just the surface of the glass. The tap with the glass cutting tool "sets" the score and pushes the fracture deeper to make the final break easy and clean. Making multiple scores would increase the chance of not getting a clean break- you could end up with tiny, sharp glass fragments all over your workshop (or yourself.) Obviously, that's a bad thing.*

Some practice is needed to get a feel for making the score deep enough without using too much pressure and breaking the glass. The lubricant is to keep the cutting wheel rolling smoothly for a clean score. If it skips or slides, you'll run into problems (ever try to cut cardboard with a blunt knife?)

---
* Obligatory PSA- always wear heavy (preferably leather) gloves and safety goggles- or even better, safety goggles and a face mask- when cutting glass.
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* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
MrGreggy
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Anybody have experience cutting plexiglass? Also, can it be silvered to create a mirror that works as well? I want to make a basic production table.
EsnRedshirt
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You can silver plexiglass, but it usually makes a poor mirror, especially compared to glass. Also remember, plexiglass cannot be cleaned in the same way glass is cleaned- glass cleaner will destroy its transparency.

Thin plexiglass can be cut like glass, but it's tricky. It's usually easier to cut both thin and thick plexiglass with a jigsaw or tablesaw blade designed specifically for cutting plastics.

Check out TAP Plastics (www.tapplastics.com)- they sell numerous sizes and types of plexiglass and other plastics, and also the tools to work with it.
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en2oh
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Couple of points about cutting mirrors.

First, NEVER try and cut a mirror made with tempered glass. What a mess: you'll be cleaning up for days. Smile
One of the reasons that mirrored glass sometimes doesn't cut as cleanly is due to the backing material painted over the mirrored surface (assuming that this is not a first / front surface mirror). So, if the mirror has a very heavy coat of protective paint, an old trick is to strip the paint off with any paint remover along the cut line. It will leave the mirrored surface intact. After cutting (as with any glass cutting, take a well lubed carbide/diamond glass cutter, single scored straight line, rest over a small pencil to act as a bridge, press firmly on either side of the pencil. Clean cut every time! Smile) paint the area of the cut with mirror backing (any latex/rubberized paint will do.

As far as plexiglas or better, polycarbonate mirrors (more scratch resistant, better mirror effect) they need to be scored multiple times to get nearly through before trying to flex the pieces into two. Glass is a crystaline state and as was posted before, needs only a single, clean line scribed into the surface to initiate a clean cut. Lexan (polycarbonate) or Perspex(R)/Plexiglas are polymers, not crystaline structures so don't break the way glass does.


The quality of Lexan based mirrored surfaces is really quite remarkable with one exception. They never sound like real glass when tapped to show that they are solid.

You can make your own mirrored surfaces, quite easily but why bother. Unless you want to mirror some inside surface that is unique, just buy a piece of glass mirror or Lexan mirror. To do it chemically, you need some Tin Chloride solution to create a charged surface on which Silver Nitrate can be 'plated' out (deposited) to various thicknesses. Afterwards, you still need to paint the mirror with mirror backing (available at most glass stores. Tin Chloride/Silver Nitrate is commonly used to make mirrored surfaces. If for some reason you need a front/first surface mirror, put the backing pain on the unplated side of the surface, not the silvered side. Same with making "two way mirrors". Peppers Ghost uses this technique. With proper lighting, you can make very strange things appear to happen! Smile

Take care,
Doug

Quote:
On 2011-02-24 10:34, EsnRedshirt wrote:
You can silver plexiglass, but it usually makes a poor mirror, especially compared to glass. Also remember, plexiglass cannot be cleaned in the same way glass is cleaned- glass cleaner will destroy its transparency.

Thin plexiglass can be cut like glass, but it's tricky. It's usually easier to cut both thin and thick plexiglass with a jigsaw or tablesaw blade designed specifically for cutting plastics.

Check out TAP Plastics (www.tapplastics.com)- they sell numerous sizes and types of plexiglass and other plastics, and also the tools to work with it.
ClintonMagus
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Southwestern Southeast
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Quote:
On 2011-03-02 22:56, en2oh wrote:
Couple of points about cutting mirrors.

The quality of Lexan based mirrored surfaces is really quite remarkable with one exception. They never sound like real glass when tapped to show that they are solid.



I have seen guys tap the Lexan mirror with their ring or something similar, and it sounds fine.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
wa-na-be
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You can buy mirrored plexiglass and cut it with a saw blade made for cutting plastics. Cutting glass mirrors is as everyone has stated above, if you go to a glass cutting store you can also pick up a stone to clean up the edges of the glass so you don't cut yourself. Also if you do not want a reflection off the edge of the glass you can paint it black or what ever color you box is going to be. At least that is what I do when making my props.

Chris
wa-na-be
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You can buy mirrored plexiglass and cut it with a saw blade made for cutting plastics. Cutting glass mirrors is as everyone has stated above, if you go to a glass cutting store you can also pick up a stone to clean up the edges of the glass so you don't cut yourself. Also if you do not want a reflection off the edge of the glass you can paint it black or what ever color you box is going to be. At least that is what I do when making my props.

Chris
CharlaineC
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rhode island
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I cut with three scores because that is what I was taught when I worked in a glass shop cutting glass. the scorer we had had to make three or four passes. so I thought you needed to do it for hand cutters too
ggarcia
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San Antonio Tx
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I use tile and glass cutting pliers. they will score and will break the glass. work great for me. a web search will bring up different brands.
VE Day
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LONDON, England, UK
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I bought a cheap plastic mirror from the Poundshop and cut it using household scissors. Its not the World's most perfect mirror buts its okay for the mirror glass I made.
Michael Berends
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Hey All,

My whole family has worked in the Glass industry for over 43 years. I also worked as a Glazier for a number of years. I just want to clarify a few things here about cutting mirrors and glass.

If you're looking for a mirror of a certain size, just look up a glass shop in your local directory and they will get you whatever you need. It is WAY cheaper than going to a Hardware store buying a piece of mirror and cutting it yourself. The hardware store overprices the mirror and then you have to cut it and the potential of it not cutting right as a novice cutter is pretty high. The glass shop will charge you by the area of the mirror and do the cuts at a couple of dollars per cut. It will more than likely cost you LESS to get the peice cut, then it would to go to a hardware store and try it yourself. They will also "dress" the edges of the mirror running it through a "Wet" sander or even better through an "Edger". This gets rid of any sharp edges and also helps with the glint you get at the edge of the mirror that is always a problem.

If you want to do it yourself. Get a NEW cutter. Lay your piece of mirror down on a table or floor with carpet underneath it to prevent any scratches. Do this with the clear side up so you're looking at your own reflection. Lay a SOLID straightedge along the line you want to cut. Hold it down with firm pressure so it doesn't move. Always helps to have another set of hands to help you with this (My Dad used to get us to hold the end farthest away from him down all the time as kids). Put a little bit of oil on the end of the cutter. Start at the end farthest away from you and with firm pressure, start your cut. this will take ONE pass with even pressure and speed. The goal is to "score" the glass with one even line along the cut. Multiple passes with the cutter give you a higher potential for the cut to run off course and ruin your piece.

To complete the cut lift up the glass a bit. Turn your cutter around and put the non cutter end, directly under the cut you just made on one end of the glass. Then with even pressure on both sides the glass will "Crack" and run along the cut and you will have 2 pices of glass/mirror.

The speed and pressure of the cutter is something that takes a while to master. Be prepared to screw up a lot of cuts at first.

Hope this helps? If you have any questions about cutting Glass/mirror. Please feel free to message me.

Michael
www.michaelberends.com
"IMPOSSIBLE HAS JUST BECOME AN OPINION"
malaki
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I used to work in a frame shop and one of my jobs was cutting glass for all frames, even the round and oval.

Only a couple of things to add: Be sure to clean the glass well before attempting to cut it. Any form of dirt can obstruct the cutter, causing it to skip areas during the scoring of the glass. If the ball is carefully used, the score can be made to form a solid line crack, setting the course of the cut.

If cutting a round or oval, set the glass on top of the frame's rear side so that you can follow the curve. Once the curve is scored, make relief cuts from the scored line to the corners. Using the ball on the cutter, tap the scores until the crack forms along the entire score, including at least one of the corner relief cuts. The round or oval piece of glass will be easy to remove from the extra glass. With care, I actually removed an oval from the four corners without separating three of the four corners. (I did it simply to see if it could be done!)

Use a vacuum to clean up. there are inevitably small shards left behind, especially in the carpet you used. Do not fall victim to them.
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