Make a Handy Angled Mirror Block
This simple tool makes it easier to see handsaw cuts, instrument readings, and more.
Each year, I teach for a couple weeks at Peter Korn’s school, The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. My exposure to the methods of the other instructors often yields practical ideas that I can use on a regular basis. They are the sort of things you may not think of, but once demonstrated make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The little mirrored block shown here is a good example.
While cutting through dovetails, David Upfill-Brown suggested that the students buy a small mirror with a built-in stand to view their progress as they cut to a line. The mirror rests on the bench, positioned to show the opposite side of the workpiece. As the photo above shows, you can see how the cut is going and when to stop without having to change position.
Back in 1994, Bob Vaughn made a video about setting planer knives. When adjusting the outfeed roller, Vaughan uses a small angled mirror block to watch the dial indicator that rests inside on the planer bed (see photo below). That way, he can monitor the adjustment without having to walk around the machine.
A cut-off from a turning job that involved segmented columns provided a perfect blank for a mirror block. My block happens to be cut at a 60-degree angle, although different angles will also work. I picked up a 3×6-in. scrap of 1/8-in.-thick mirror at my local glass shop. The clerk suggested that I use contractor’s adhesive instead of silicone, explaining that the acid in the silicone will eventually eat through the silver mirror backing.