How to Build a Big Portable Dance Studio Mirror
These instructions for making a dance studio mirror can help you create your own dance studio, even if it’s in a weird basement or barn or somewhere without walls where you want them! This mirror is great for moms with small children because it is stable, portable and reversible. Every dancer deserves a place to dance. To experiment and grow and see what that looks like.
Using power tools will save you a lot of time. If you don’t have a jigsaw, drill gun and screw gun, borrow them or invite your friend who has them over and feed them dinner. A palm sander, some leftover polyurethane and black paint are also helpful if you want to make the wood even nicer, but they are not necessary. Set aside $200 for the mirror materials and you will stay under budget.
Dance Studio Mirror Materials:
- One 4’x8’ sheet of ½ thick plywood ($22 – $35 depending on the quality)
- Five 8’ 2x4s: 2 for vertical supports, 1 for horizontal supports, 2 for vertical supports ($7*5=$35)
- Thirty wood screws 2” long ($5)
- Six 2.5” long carriage bolts with wingnuts ($12)
- One tube of construction adhesive and caulk gun ($10)
- Five to seven 13″x49″ full length mirrors (Buy frameless mirrors or spend forever removing the frames from $6 framed mirrors. The plywood is 48″ tall, so you don’t want mirrors taller than 49″) ($5*5+=$25+)
- Six 2’ swivel caster wheels (optional. Just if you want the mirror to roll) ($6*6=$36)
- Tools: Small saw, drill gun, screw gun, palm sander, scraper, blowdrier (for softening glue on framed mirrors), hammer
Inexpensive Dance Studio Floor, Backdrop and Lighting:
- Three or four 4’x4’ foam tile pack for dance floor ($20 each and worth it if you are dancing on a basement floor! I put a tarp under mine)
- One 10×20 backdrop ($40. I cut the bottom off of mine and made more backdrop to cover stuff that surrounds the dance studio in my basement)
- One 10″ ring light with stand ($40) and three to eight clamp lamps ($12*3+) with wax paper secured to them with a rubber band (soft white bulbs look better than daylight)
A photographer friend Damaris suggested making a light box. Pull a white sheet taut and put as many lights as possible behind it. Haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds fun! Maybe a really translucent white fabric curtain with lights behind it. Hmmm…
Instructions for Making a Large Free-standing Mirror
Build a moveable frame for the mirrors
- First 8’ 2×4: Mark 4’ and then cut the board in half so you have two 4’ long sections
- Second 8’ 2×4: Mark 1.5’ and cut a 1.5’ section off of one end
- Match wide side of 1.5’ board to the wide side of the 6.5’ board with the ends of both boards touching the ground flat so the board stands straight. Screw the small board onto the long board. This is the front vertical support. The 1.5’ board will be the front base of the support and the bottom of the mirror plywood will sit on top of it.
- Mark 1’ on the 4’ board. Line the base of the narrow sides of the vertical support up to the 1’ mark on the wide side of a floor support. Screw the wide side of the 4’ board to the narrow sides of the 2 vertical supports. This is the horizontal floor support.
- Third 8’ 2×4: Lay the combined horizontal and vertical support on the ground. Lay the 3rd 2×4 at a diagonal so that it will touch the floor with one corner. Make sure the vertical and horizontal supports create a 90 degree angle. Draw a line where the diagonal support meets the vertical support. Cut the diagonal piece to size. Stand the horizontal and vertical supports up and screw the diagonal support in between them. The first support is done!
- Repeat steps 1-5 using the remaining 4′ section left over from building the first support as well as two more 2x4s. Paint if you like.
- Sand and polyurethane or paint the 4×8 plywood sheet if you like.
Put the full length mirrors on the portable frame
- It’s time for mirrors! Frameless mirrors are usually more expensive than the standard frame mirror, but buying frameless mirrors will save you hours of time removing frames. The beveled edges might distort, but we’re not going for perfection here. Or you can just leave the frames on and glue the damn mirrors to the plywood and be done with it.
- If you are removing the frames from cheaper 13″x49″ mirrors: Lay the mirrors face down on a clean flat surface. Be extremely gentle and patient or you will need to buy more mirrors. Gently pierce the paper on the back between the mirror and the frame around the entire mirror. Use a blow dryer to soften the glue as you scrape it off and separate the mirror from the frame. Do this for all of your mirrors.
- With the plywood laying flat on the ground, mark the center of the plywood. Lay out your mirrors on the plywood and mark where you want them. You may decide to use 5 or 7. Leave at least 6 inches of plywood uncovered the short sides of the plywood so the carriage bolts can be inserted.
- Use construction adhesive to glue the center mirror on. Glue the mirrors to the plywood one by one going from the center of the plywood and checking for straightness each time. Let it dry according to the adhesive instructions.
- Get help from 2 more people to make this part easier. Put the two supports on the ground near the plywood. The diagonal support is on the ground, and the side that will be horizontal when the mirror is finished is facing up. Slide the plywood up onto the supports so the bottom of the plywood rests on the top of the 1.5′ 2×4 at the base of the front horizontal support. Drill a hole for the carriage bolt near the base of the plywood. Do the same for the other side. Insert the carriage bolts and wing nut the plywood to the horizontal support.
- Very carefully holding the supports to the back of the plywood, stand the mirror up. Check that base of the plywood is fully resting on the 1.5′ piece of 2×4. Drill 2 more holes on each side of the plywood so there are 3 carriage bolts on each side holding the plywood to the supports.
- If you plan on taking the mirrored plywood off of the base at any time, screw or glue (don’t crack your mirrors!) blocks to the top back of the mirror so that the overhanging mirror does not come in contact with a wall it rests on without the supports.