magic mirror

I made a magic mirror and you can too.

Finished Product 🙂

A magic mirror is basically four things: A frame, a one way mirror, a monitor and a computer (raspberry pi). I have literally no woodworking experience, and have only dabbled in programming… So by all means… If I can do it, you can too.

The product list (All AU pricing):

– MONITOR (I used a 27 inch monitor) (used – $100 or less)
– HDMI cord, charger for Pi, mouse and keyboard (wireless is preferable) ($10)
– Micro SDHC card ($8) – Wireless mouse + keyboard ($20)
– A SHEET OF GLASS (Free or $20 – go to your local second hand store)
– 1 WAY MIRROR MATERIAL ($29 from Bunnings)
– see example: 4 x WOODEN PLANKS (longer length for the sides) (the cedar planks cost a bit more for me at $14 ea (I'm sure you can find cheaper) – $56)
– 4 x WOODEN PLANKS (shorter length for the top – $56 or less)
– I used cedar planks because they are light and already had semi-routed edges
– VARNISH ($20ish)
– SAND PAPER & FILLER ($5? + $10)
– MITRE BOX & SAW ($10)

Total – $436 AU
I was able to reuse some stuff from friends/around the house so it cost me about $150-$200.

I'm 100% sure there are ways to make this a hell of a lot cheaper, so keep that in mind if you want to do a similar project and just use this as a base guide.
Also there's the Australia tax which means stuff costs us about 10x more than it should in most cases..


I'm not even going to bother going into detail about setting up the magic mirror on Linux. There is an absolutely incredible tutorial by KirAsh4 on the MagicMirror forums:

The whole forum is filled with answers and inspirational photos of other people completing their Magic Mirrors, too.

The monitor hooked up to Pi

If you're like me and have never used a Raspberry Pi before, you'll be amazed at how powerful the little computer is.
Test run – Finding out which apps work well & which do not.


Again – this is EZ PZ. If you're like me, just get someone to do it for you while you sit back and take photos.

If you don't have that luxury:
1. Get your piece of glass & lay it out on the floor. Clean it like a mofo.
2. Make sure you get some kind of window lubricant (usually comes with the one way mirror sticker) & spray the glass down.
3. Peel back the film & start laying it down.
4. Don't fret if there's heaps of bubbles. Use something that looks like that yellow instrument in the pic to assassinate them. Try removing the bubbles slow and steady, but apply a bit of pressure as well. If you screw up, that's fine… Just lift up the film, spray the glass a bit more and try it again.

Removing any dust we find

Dont mind the mess

The finished mirror on the right 🙂


YOUTUBE IS YOUR FRIEND. I used another amazing tutorial that you can see here:

It's 25 minutes, but just watch it if you are like me & are not experienced. It's the exact frame that I made.

The basic concept of the frame is as follows:
1. Glue the wood in pairs like above. All you need is wood glue & clamps for this.
2. Once dried, measure the sets of wood (+ bleed) against the corners of the mirror. IMPORTANT: the mirror needs to sit INSIDE the frame, I chose to sit the mirror 17mm inside the frame, and measured accordingly)
3. Once you have wood measurements – cut the frame using your MITRE BOX. If you are cutting the left side of the frame, the top cut should look like this " ". The bottom cut should look like this " / "
4. When you cut all four corners, sand them back so they fit in nicely (you'll see how I screwed up in a few pics from now)
5. Glue the corners together with wood glue, and drill the pieces together (I decided to drill vertically so the screws would not be visible to anyone looking at the frame from the side)
6. Varnish

Yeah. I majorly screwed up!

This fine piece of cutting cost me roughly $28 – no amount of sanding could bring me back from this mess. When I was cutting this corner, I clamped the wood on an angle… So even though it looked like I was cutting straight, it was a seriously wonky cut.

tl;dr I'm an idiot. When you clamp, make sure you don't clamp on an angle!

These corners are a bit nicer….

At this point I started sanding. If you can get your hands on a sander, you will be 100x happier. You don't actually realise how much sanding needs to be done until you start doing it.
After purchasing and setting up two more pieces of wood, I'm good to start getting my glue onnnnn

Come at me, corners
Time to install this bad boy.

Best thing to do is measure the distance from the end of the frame to where the mirror will lie, and cut yourself a few blocks so the mirror can fit flush. Think of it this way – if you didn't have the blocks, the mirror would slide around like crazy when in the frame & up on the wall.
Installed – front way up.

It's almost beer-o-clock

Actually it was already half past beer, but I just wanted to say that.

You can get a million different types of varnish. I opted for Cabot's water based stain & varnish – acorn look. It's a bit less intense than walnut, but still gives a deep enough colour to look cool. Your local hardware store will help you with this.

Make sure you prop the frame on something and varnish away. I did one coat, left it to sit for 2 hrs, another small coat and then I did a light sanding (240 grit). Probably safer to do the varnishing before you put the mirror in, but where's the fun in that?


Measure out where the screen will sit in the frame and mark it on the back of the frame. Get a scrap piece of wood and screw it into the back of the frame so it can act as a stool for your monitor. Remember, gravity is a thing, so get a piece of wood & measure to prevent your monitor from falling out.

Get some wire & hooks from your picture hanging kit and drill it into the back of the frame in order to lock in the monitor.

Final Version – the back.

If you rest your frame against a wall that is quite white/bright, you will find that the mirror does not work as well as it should.

A simple solution that I found works quite well is putting a sheet of paper behind the mirror. You cannot see the paper at all from the front – but it makes the mirror look awesome.


The Apps

From left to right, starting from the top:

– Clock
– Daily weather forecast
– Internet Monitor
– Raspberry Pi Statistics
– News
– Quote
– Local government calendar (holidays, city events)
– My Facebook calendar
– SO Facebook calendar

How it looks from the side

That's all, folks. Hope I convinced anyone who thought about doing this before and didn't know how to go about it, or at least inspired someone to do something else.