How to Cut a Builder’s Mirror

cut builder mirror

After my failed attempt at cutting down my first builder’s mirror, I got a hold of 2 more and tried again (after watching some videos on the subject and buying a better scoring tool.)  I successfully cut them both.  One I cut into 7 pieces so I am sure it wasn’t just dumb luck.

cut a builders mirror

 

Here are some important things I learned.
1.  All cutters (scorers) are not equal.  I first used one that I bought at the local home improvement store.  They only had 1 to choose from.  It had 6 different tiny scoring blades on a wheel.
The new one I bought has one scoring wheel and a cavity in the handle for oil.
mirror cutting tools
I bought mine from Amazon.  The cutter was $20, which is high compared to some  but I tried the $5 option the first time and it sucked so I got the higher end model in order to give this test a fair shot at working.
Amazon affiliate links:  Fletcher Terry 01-711 Fluid Glass Cutter, Fletcher Terry 09-541 Fluid Glass Cutter

2.  Apparently you need oil!  Either on the mirror or on the scoring wheel or both.  I think you can use any kind of oil, sewing machine, cooking…not sure.  I just bought the oil that had the same brand name and was meant to be used with my new cutter.  (Because I wasn’t sure this would work and I wanted to do everything I could to make a good effort.)

3.  Clamp your straight edge down so it doesn’t wiggle around.  You need a firm guide to follow in order to score properly.
Cutting a builder mirror

What not to do:  I tried holding a piece of melamine as a straight edge which just slid around on top of the glass.  *You can use anything with a straight edge, just clamp it down before scoring.

4.  Make your score in ONE, CONTINUOUS, EVENLY PRESSURED MOTION!  DO NOT GO BACK OVER YOUR SCORE!   You might be tempted to go back and forth to make sure you got it.  Don’t do it!
Something about glass being in a state of flux between a solid and a liquid and once you score it it messes with the molecular configuration… Look it up if you’re interested in that much detail.  My eyes glaze over when instructions get too detailed so I’m not likely to pass on anything more than I absorbed.  The point is:  ONE CONTINUOUS, evenly pressured score all the way from the beginning of your mirror OFF the opposite end!
With my failed attempt, I could hear that the blade wasn’t making constant contact with the mirror so I went back and forth over my score line which was my biggest mistake, apparently.
5.  You can use special pliers (Glass Cutter Pliers) to snap your mirror if you’re making small “cuts” (technically they are breaks) but for larger “cuts”, just use the weight of the mirror to break itself.

So there you go.  It is possible to cut a builder’s mirror.

cut builder mirror
Not perfectly perhaps, but good enough for me.
There was a little chipping right along the edge but nothing a 1/4″ lip on a frame won’t hide so I’m totally happy.  It was actually quite fun!

Comments

  1. This is a great video! I have an old sliding mirrored wardrope door which I don’t want to throw out ( the frame from around it has came of) iv kept it cause I wanted to cut it and frame it, I have googled it loads of times to see if anyone has done anything with a large mirror like this and your video is perfect, I did what you said and it turned out perfect! I now have 2 beautiful and very large framed mirrors tht everyone who sees them comments on thanxs so much for posting your vid it gave the the push I needed to get started.

  2. Joy2Journey says:

    I have a mirror and I am not afraid to cut it! :) Thanks for the video … I am going to do this for a project I am working on. Your the best!
    Hugs,
    Bj

    PS I really like where you are headed with your blog. You certainly found a unique nitch!

  3. Ronda Batchelor says:

    We cut our mirrors for our master bathroom. We also broke a few but finally got it. Good tip about the oil.

  4. This is a great post and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks Sandra.

  5. I saw your post a few months ago, and was totally inspired. I went out and bought a glass cutter/scorer but then chickened out. :( Today I did it! I made my first cut, for practice, and am so excited about how easy it really is. Now I just need to get some clamps and a straight edge (I used duct tape but didn’t get close enough for a good straight cut). I am not going to frame the mirror when finished, any suggestions for finishing the cut edges?
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  6. Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co says:

    while mirrors do not intimidate me, your tutorial is phenomenal, and the video is a great visual!!! Nicely done!

  7. I love Sawdust and Paper Scraps. She gives real life useful home improvement tutorials for ladies who arent afraid to get their hands dirty.

  8. David H says:

    Good video. I like the look of trepidation and surprise when it actually worked. lol. Please use safety glasses though. It is not uncommon for little chips to come flying at you and it would be a real shame to get a little piece of glass in your eye.

    • Yes, good point. I am usually a sucker for safety but everything I read is that these mirrors wouldn’t chip and fly into your eyes. I did however, put on my goggles for subsequent cuts because I was nervous about that very thing. I thought I edited out all the trepidation though. LOL

  9. Girl, this is awesome! I have THREE builder mirrors in my garage right now. Hubs wanted to throw them out last week and I said nooooo b/c I knew I could cut them down somehow & use them!! You rock. Great video by the way. I’m impressed!

  10. Hmmm…you may have just saved me TONS of time and some money, too! That makes you a hero in my book. ;)

  11. mama walker says:

    that was A M A Z I N G!! you have some mad skills. thanks for the tips of does and donts too.

  12. Oooooh. I have like three of these puppies that I'm dying to cut up. Thanks for the info. Now can you post about how to build a cool frame for said cut mirrors? Thanks for your know how!

  13. Pete Fazio says:

    Awesome.

  14. Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess says:

    That is a great tip. When we took down our two horrid builders mirrors from the bathrooms, we envisioned cutting them and hanging at least one over the fireplace. But then we chickened out and sold them on Craigslist (or maybe gave away, can't remember…). Perhaps next time I will woman up and just cut them! :-)

  15. (and I meant BREAK, not bread)

  16. http://christopherandanne.blogspot.com/2010/12/its-finished-part-3.htmlThere she is! I think if you built one, it would be even better looking.

  17. I saw the coolest mirror this weekend (I'll try to find the site) that reminded me of you and builder mirrors. It was just a completely plain piece of mirror with an awesome modern lattice-type pattern build out of small strips of wood over the top of it (and the same small strips as a frame around it). If I were more confident in my carpentry skills, I'd totally try to build one with one of the pieces of my mirror – once I bread it into pieces, that is.

  18. The Miller Five says:

    Love it! I love the glass/liquid explanation. My husband (an engineer) loves to explain things to me that way. My eyes gloss over and I usually go into daydreamland and dream about escaping to do something more exciting….like scrubbing the toilets. Ha ha ha What do you have planned for your mirrors?

  19. My Cottage Charm says:

    LOVE this! I have a HUGE builders mirror in my bathroom that I'll be taking down when we re-do that room, and I'm glad to know I can cut it. I already have one in my garage from the downstairs bath make-over that I've been saving. Yay! Hope you're packing is coming along. I really don't think I can do the 30 day challenge…I would go bonkers! lolHugsmissy