How to Add a Mirrored Back to a Bookcase
Adding a mirrored look to a bookcase makes the unit feel deeper than it is -- the mirror captures light and reflects it back into the shelves. When a grouping of books interspersed with decorative accent pieces are displayed on mirrored shelves, their images can be visualized in the mirror and in person, creating an added dimensional effect. This is a look that can be created with an existing bookcase and a mirror or mirrors that fit evenly across the back of the unit.
Things You'll Need
4-by-8-foot plywood sheet, 1/8-inch thick
1-by-1-by-36-inch square dowels
Circular saw or table saw
Compound miter saw
1-inch finishing nails or tacks
Make the Bookcase Backing
Cut a backing for the bookcase using 1/8-inch-thick, 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets. This is for bookcases that do not already have a backing. This important piece will support the mirrors later on.
Measure the width and length of the back of the bookcase, and transfer these measurements to the plywood with a pencil and a straight edge.
Cut the wood with a circular or table saw, and sand the rough edges smooth with a palm sander.
Paint the Bookcase
Pry the backing off a bookcase that already has one with a hammer.
Paint the backing and all the bookcase parts. Unless the bookcase already has a desirable finish, give the unit a fresh look. A light-colored paint will reflect the light along with the mirror, while darker colors contrast with the light reflected in the mirror, pulling the vision into the shelves to the back of the unit.
Set the parts aside to dry.
Attach the Mirror
Trim the inner edges of the bookcase's backing with 1-by-1-by-36-inch wood dowels. Start at one corner and lay the wood dowels end to end on the backing, along every edge. Cut the dowel pieces to size with a compound miter saw to fit around the piece. Then remove each piece, one at a time, and apply a bead of wood glue to affix it to the backing.
After the glue dries, turn the backing over and hammer a few 1-inch nails or tacks through the backing and into the dowels along all four sides of the backing.
Turn the framed backing over and measure the width and length backing inside of the dowels that frames its edges. Take this measurement to have a custom mirror cut to fit in the space, or find a mirror or mirror panels that will fit evenly in the space, even if they do not fill the space edge to edge.
Lay the bookcase backing on the floor, and apply a generous coat of mirror adhesive to it, within the space of the backing trimmed with the wood dowels.
Lay the mirrors gently onto the backing, side to side, and give them a light press to bond with the adhesive. Allow the panel time to dry.
Pick up the backing that now has the mirrors attached and align it with the back of the bookcase, in a standing position. Ask for help while lifting and holding the back in place.
Attach the mirrored back to the bookcase. Apply a modest bead of wood glue around the edges of the backing, align it to the bookcase and tap the furniture tacks through the backing and into the frame.