This is a companion post to the paper instructions we are handing out at the 2019 Kingsport Mini Maker Faire. If you don’t have that paper, you can download it to help you build your own infinity mirror.
Bill of Materials
The following links are samples of what is needed. Certainly there is nothing that requires these exact materials. Some of the items you can find locally or might even be able to snag for free from your home or by asking around.
The links to Amazon below are affiliate links.
In the mirror we had at the Maker Faire we were using red LEDs. But you can choose your color to personalize the mirror the way you want. You can even buy strips that have a remote so that you can change the color according to your mood.
The strip we used in our build was 12 volt LEDs. This is the most common and generally cheaper option. You can find 5V strips that can be run with a cell phone charger. Typically they are a bit more expensive.
There are a couple of helpful things to know if you have never used LED strips before. First, they can be cut to length at the little copper pads between the LEDs. There are 3 lights per section on 12V strips and only 1 light per section on 5V strips. You must cut at the copper pads between the sections for them to work properly after cutting.
Second, you have to ensure that you have enough amperage from your power supply to power the number of LEDs. That said, for a project this size, at 12V you only need a 500 mA (or greater) current supply.
Power Supply and Connectors
You probably have plenty of power supplies in a box or drawer at home that can run this project. If you have 12V LEDs you will need a 12V supply. Make sure you have a 5V supply if you have 5V LEDs.
The power supply we are using for our project is from an old network router. There are plenty of these types of supplies to be found for $1-3 at most thrift stores.
The LED strips that are linked to as an example have a power jack already attached. If the strips you buy don’t have a connector you can solder the wires of your power supply directly to the strip (ensuring your voltage and polarity are correct before plugging in) or you can use connectors that you can get from Amazon.
Front Glass and Rear Mirror
The front of the mirror is plain glass with window tinting film applied to it. Our infinity mirror was based off the size of the glass we had lying around. It is the scanner glass from a disassembled home printer. All other dimensions for our mirror were based on that.
Alternately, you can use a one-way (also called a two-way) mirror instead of glass and tinting film. This is the type of mirror that you can see through from one side but is reflective on the other side. You can skip using the tinting film if you use one of these very expensive mirrors.
There are some films that probably work better than others; however, just about any film you get will work to some degree. Even plain glass with no film will work, it just won’t look as nice.
If you have a window tinting shop in your area you might take your glass to the shop and see if they have a piece of scrap tinting film that will fit your glass. More than likely they will have plenty in a trash can.
However, if you need to buy some tint film, the more “mirrored” the reflection is, the better the effect. You can buy enough film on Amazon to do a dozen mirrors for less than $10.
The rear of the box is just a regular mirror. Or, it could be another piece of glass with tinting film on it. It won’t be as reflective as a regular mirror, but it will work. You will want to add some type of backing (a thin piece of plywood will work) if you are using plain glass with tint film. A piece of plywood is also recommended (but not necessary) if you are using a regular mirror. This will help protect the back glass/mirror of your infinity mirror.
Cut 4 boards that are slightly larger than your front glass. Or, read through some options below to know how large your wooden box needs to be.
Assemble your 4 boards in the manner shown on the paper handed out at the Mini Maker Faire (or the PDF download). You want the box to be slightly larger than the glass and mirror you are using.
You can cut a rabbet in the box to set your front glass into. And then you can cover with some more decorative wood. That is the way our mirror is assembled. Or, you can just attach your glass to the wood and cover with a paper or wooden frame.
If you do not have a router or table saw to cut a rabbet, you could make your frame large enough that your glass can just sit inside the wooden box. Then attach some small strips of wood to the inside of the frame that the glass can rest on as you put a more decorative frame on the outside of the glass and box.
This is certainly an area where you can get creative in your assembly of the box and attaching the glass.
From the back of the box (with the front glass in place) draw a line around the inside of the box where your LED strip should be attached. For the best result your LED strip needs to be exactly centered between the glass and mirror.
The easiest way to get power into the box is through a power jack on the side or bottom. Ideally you would want to put power through the back of the infinity mirror. But that would require drilling a hole in the back mirror.
Our power jack is on the side of the box so that it can easily sit on a desk. If you plan to hang your mirror on a wall, you might want to put your power jack on the bottom of the box.
Because this is the side that does not show, this does not have to be as pretty as the front. Whatever way you attach the rear mirror to the box, you will want to make sure it is easily removable. This is so you can get into the infinity mirror to make changes or replace LEDs if you want to put a different color light strip into the box.
Ours just has a piece of thin plywood screwed to the box between the mirror and the edge of the box. This sandwiches the mirror in place but allows easy access if something needs to be repaired or changed.
Enjoy Your Mirror!
Now it is time to enjoy your mirror. It is a simple project that is fun to show off. It isn’t too complicated of a project but it can yield stunning results. We hope you enjoyed seeing ours at the Mini Maker Faire in Kingsport.