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I'm building a medicine cabinet with a door that will be a framed mirror. Door stock is 3/4" poplar, mirror is 1/4" thickness. I'd like a 1/4" reveal from the front.

Is it better to rout a 1/4" groove down the middle of the rails and stiles to accept the mirror (like I would for a door panel), or cut a 1/2" deep rabbet and use 1/4" filler board and another 1/4" backer board to hold it in place? Or is there better way?

The groove seems easiest, but it would rule out replacing the mirror if anything happened to it. Plus, should I be concerned about too tight a fit causing stress on the glass?

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  • Welcome to WSE. I'm not sure how the reveal figures into the design. A sketch of your project might help
    – Ashlar
    Sep 16, 2022 at 13:52
  • "Plus, should I be concerned about too tight a fit causing stress on the glass?" Just for the sake of argument if you did end up with a fit that was too tight, over time the wood will yield and fit will ease all on its own; this would happen even with a wood much harder than you're using and it'll happen much more easily with a softer species like poplar. It's up to you to ensure this won't happen though, and very easy to do — even if you happened to mill the rabbet/rebate slightly too narrow, only minor scraping or sanding with 60/80 grit backed with a block would be enough to ease the fit.
    – Graphus
    Sep 18, 2022 at 16:27

2 Answers 2

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I suspect in the long run you will be happier with routing out the back and having small filler pieces with tabs to hold it all in. It will be easier to line up and any twisting or warping actions by the wood won't be trying to twist your mirror. Granted Poplar isn't likely to be able to put enough stress to crack the mirror so either way can work just fine.

Miter joints can already be hard enough to line up without adding in grooves that need to hold glass. You also then have to put the glass in for the final glue up as well.

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    Fully agree. Glaziers points would be an excellent option to hold the mirror in place while allowing for some wood movement and eventual glass replacement if necessary. Possibly double up on the number of points (they're cheap) to accommodate the regular movement of the door and the different direction of movement when compared to a window sash.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 16, 2022 at 15:00
  • Thanks! I'll go with the rear approach!
    – Steve
    Sep 16, 2022 at 19:36
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Usually there is no best way, but here there is :)

Is it better to rout a 1/4" groove down the middle of the rails and stiles to accept the mirror (like I would for a door panel), or cut a 1/2" deep rabbet and use 1/4" filler board and another 1/4" backer board to hold it in place?

Make the rabbet. This is how glass or mirror has always been mounted in doors.

Otherwise if glass/mirror cracks to replace it you must make a new door or try to take apart the existing door without breaking it!

Plus, should I be concerned about too tight a fit causing stress on the glass?

No.

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