Monday, June 3, 2013

What Wood You Do With This Juniper?

Juniper Wood Framed Bathroom Mirror
Living in the high desert of Central Oregon, there is one thing that is strikingly conducive to this region: the distinctive smell of juniper in the spring.  Juniper, if you've never smelled its blossoms before, has a pungent odor similar to that of...well, cat piss.
When I first moved to Bend, the smell of juniper would sting my nose with such overwhelming intensity that I would scramble around the house screaming at my cat and crawling around the carpets on all fours trying to track down the location of the kitty pee.  I eventually figured out it was the juniper--not the cat--that was causing the odor, and this saved my cat from a one-way trip to the humane society.
Utah Juniper tree (Juniperus osteosperma) in C...
A juniper tree
Now that I've grown accustomed to the smell, I almost like it.  After a long vacation away from home, we'll make the turn around 97 leaving Mt. Hood and entering the high desert, and I can't help but take a big whiff and celebrate the "smell of home."

So, needless to say, juniper and Central Oregon go hand-in-hand, which is lucky for us high desert dwellers, because juniper has one characteristic that is a lot less off-putting than its smell: it produces a beautiful wood for furniture making and wood working (oh, and the juniper berries are also good for making distilled liquor!). Juniper has beautiful knots and curves, and gorgeous coloring once removed of its dingy, rough bark, and the contrast makes for beautiful wood working.
Juniper Bark
Juniper bark
A couple months ago, my husband's friend was out clearing some property for a friend when he ran across some debris from some juniper that was cut down. 
The juniper scraps we salvaged
 He asked my husband if he knew anything that could be made from the juniper debris, and so I jumped searched around Pinterest for inspiration and found this mirror.
Pinterest Inspiration
What a gorgeous idea! But, not having the need for a tall, skinny wardrobe mirror (and questioning the usefulness of a mirror this size that's half-covered with wood), I tried to think of how I could apply this idea elsewhere in the home.  And, while sitting in the bathtub reading the latest addition of Country Living magazine and thinking to myself how ugly bathroom mirrors are, it hit me: why not apply the wood as a frame around the big, ugly bathroom mirror.

And so that's exactly what my husband did.  To make this juniper wood framed bathroom mirror, simply:
  1. Find juniper wood scrap (this will be the hardest part).
  2. Plane four long juniper wood sections to about 1/4" in thickness.
  3. Cut pieces of juniper scrap to fit your mirror, making a 45 degree angle on the ends so they can fit together much like a frame would.
  4. (Optional) Router the external edges for a finished look.
  5. Sand down any sharp surface areas with rough sandpaper.
  6. Sand down the clean cut areas with a high grade sandpaper to give them a finished look.
  7. Apply clear or transparent stain to the pieces.
  8. Top with a coat of satin finish poly.
  9. Assemble by gluing the juniper wood pieces to the mirror using silicon.
So simple, yet so completely gorgeous!  Stock mirror no more! Mission accomplished!

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