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Build your own Funhouse Mirror

Hours of fun can be yours, and children of all ages are sure to be entertained (maybe), if you have your own fun house mirror.

By following our 'simple' instructions, you can bring the fun, joy and excitement of a real carnival funhouse mirror into your home.

If you run a concession stand, the fun house mirror may help boost sales revenues by drawing potential customers in as they gather around your selling space to laugh among their friends and family. The hope is that all of that laughing will make them hungry or thirsty, meaning your investment in the fun house mirror can be quickly recaptured.

Materials needed:

Before you begin: First get the acrylic mirror. A simple search on eBay.com for '1/8 thick acrylic mirror' should yield lots of results. Think about where you will use the mirror, and how large you want it to be, so you know what size of material you should buy. Here are a few possibilities:

Funhouse medicine cabinet mirror: Remove your old medicine cabinet door, and rework it into a funhouse medicine cabinet. Everyone getting up in the morning will be sure to have a good laugh (or scare), to start the day.

Funhouse vanity mirror for the lady of the house ... We better leave this one alone.

Funhouse door mirror or wardrobe mirror. A fun way to start your day.

Gather up several old cereal boxes or get a large cardboard box to transfer the curve pattern from one frame side to the other.  Cut the cereal boxes flat and join them together to make one big piece of material for the pattern in step 5.

Now, let's get started:

1. Thin sheet of acrylic mirror. Get a sheet about 1/8 inch thick and dimensions of 20 x 48 inches. The thin material is easy to bend and fit into the routed slots. Use a large framing square to make sure all of the sides are square. 

2. 3/4 inch plywood for the frame. Since the mirror in this case is 20 inches wide, the top and bottom pieces should be 19 1/2 inches wide, because you will rout a 1/4 inch deep slot along the frame sides for the mirror to fit into. Meaning the sides will be ...  

Caution: Allow extra length for the sides. As the mirror bends to fit into the slots, its length in the frame will change. The more it is bent, the smaller the frame will become. You should first decide how you want to bend the mirror before deciding on a finished frame length. The assumption here is that the mirror will only be bent along its length, meaning the width of the mirror will not change.

3. Decide how exaggerated your fun house mirror should be. Deeper bends will mean the frame will have to be thicker to match the bends. Gentle bends will mean a thinner frame, but our suggestion is to have at least on big bend in the mirror for funnier results.

4. Take a look at other funhouse or fun house mirrors. Make a note where the bends should go on the frame. You may want to make several styles of mirrors, so don't limit yourself to just one type. Once you make one, you will want to make another.

5. Cut the piece of cardboard to match the side of your frame. Use a marker or pencil to sketch out the line where the mirror is to be bent in the frame. Make sure to mark one side of the piece of cardboard as the side, so you can trace the line along the side pieces of the wooden frame later. Stop or continue working on your pattern until you used the whole length of the mirror. Leave 1/4 inch extra at the bottom for the mirror to fit into the bottom of the frame.

Hint >>  Use a flexible tape measure to note the length of your intended bends, to plan your finished frame size. Try to work from the top of the pattern down so your routed slots won't show up in the top of the frame on the sides.  Use smooth and flowing bends, since you don't want the thin mirror to crack or break in really tight bends. Bend the mirror by hand to see how it bends, so you get an idea of just how flexible it is. Caution: Wear work gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the plastic mirror. 

6. Use a large pair of scissors to cut out the cardboard pattern for the sides. Make sure you keep the pattern properly aligned so the bends to match up properly on each side. Reminder: leave 1/4 inch from the top and bottom of each side for the mirror to fit into the top and bottom of the frame. The routed groove should not go over the edge of the wood, because that would be a sign of sloppy workmanship.

7. Using a router (with a 3/16 inch straight bit installed, the 3/16 inch bit leaves 1/16 inch along the groove for the mirror to bend and flex with the wood in different temperatures and humidity conditions), carefully route out the groove on each side of the frame. Start 1/4 inch from the top, and stop 1/4 inch from the bottom. Place the top and bottom pieces in place, and use the cut groove to measure where the 3/16 inch groove should go on the top and bottom pieces. Use the router, or use a router table to cut the straight slots in the top and bottom pieces of the frame. Danger: Using a router is dangerous. Read and follow the safety and operating instructions from your router manufacturer.

8. Drill pilot holes and screw holes 3/8 inches from the top and bottom on each side of the frame sides. The holes should fit into the middle of each upper and lower frame piece. Place screws so they don't go into the grooves where the mirror would be placed.

9. Have a helper hold the mirror as you fit it into the bends of the frame. The plastic mirror should stay in place under its own tension in the bends. Screw the frame pieces together to make sure the mirror fits into the frame with out being pinched -- if the mirror does not fit freely, it may crack at pinch or pressure points, especially the corners. Check to make sure that the routed grooves match up accurately at all corners of the frame. 

10. disassemble the frame, and apply the finish of your choice. Allow it to dry before re assembling it with the mirror. If you plan to use it with your concession stand, you should install anti-theft hardware to keep the funhouse mirror from vanishing when you are not looking, or install mounts so you can mount it to one of the sides of your trailer to maximize visibility when you are set-up; store the mirror indoors and out of the weather when not in use.

11. Enjoy your own funhouse mirror. 

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