How to build an illuminated makeup mirror

By | April 11, 2021


Choose a quality mirror.


Make a 3/4 inch plywood panel that is 6 inches larger than the mirror on all four sides.

Mount the mirror on the panel using mirror clamps.


Porcelain lamp in the space socket outlet around the circumference of the mirror with plywood as mounting base. Use sockets that are dimensioned for light bulbs with standard light bulbs.


Mark the centers of these outlets on the plywood. Drill two holes 1/4 inch in diameter near this center mark for each outlet.


Calculate the total power of the mirror light. Add the number of light outlets and multiply by the wattage of a lamp. Sitton 100-watt light bulbs, for example, will consume 1600 watts of electricity. Use only light bulbs (see Warnings below).


Pull out the sockets in series. Use No.14 gauge, 2-wire and electric power cable, marked to handle up to 1800 watts in ‘load’. ‘In series’ means that all sockets must be connected in a ‘spring bread’ way. Connect a 3-pin Edison connector to the end of a generous length of cable. From the back of the panel, push the wire through the ‘entrance hole’ in the plywood for the first socket. Connect the cable to the three connections (hot, neutral and earthed) on the first socket. Take a short ‘jumper’ thread and push it through the ‘outlet hole’ in the plywood, towards the back of the panel. Connect one end of this bracket to the terminals on the first socket. Pull the free end of the cable through the ‘input hole’ for the second socket in the series. Connect the cable to the terminal on the other socket. Route a third jumper cable from the terminals on the second outlet out of the outlet hole. Pull this thread through the input hole for the third socket in the series. Keep running the frog cables like this until they are done. All wires should be on the back of the plywood board. Secure any slippery wires to plywood with gaffer tape.


Test the wires. Throw the panel up against a wall. The sockets can ‘trust’ a little. Insert a light bulb into the first socket and insert the device into a wall socket. Add lights one at a time. Correct any wires if a light bulb does not come on, be sure to disconnect the system first.


Allow all lights in the unit to burn for 1 hour. Do not allow light bulbs to touch any wiring or combustible material during this ‘charge test’. If the circuit is pointing, you have installed too many sockets and light bulbs on one wiring harness. Redistribute the charge by dividing the light sockets evenly between two separate plug lines (see Warnings below).


Unplug the unit and allow it to cool until the hot bulbs can be removed

11. Mount the sockets on the plywood board with wood screws.


Build a frame that is 12 inches smaller in width and height than the plywood panel. Use 2 x 4 timber to build this frame.


Install a number of 3-inch angle iron screws that are screwed to the inside of the 2 x 4 frame. Place the angle near the inside of the frame at 9-inch centers.


Lift the frame up against the wall, making sure it is even. Mark the open holes at angles to the wall. Drill holes and insert heavy wall anchors.


Hold the frame up to the wall again and drive screws through the holes of the angle iron and into the wall anchors. The frame should not pull out of the wall even when it is forced hard.


Screw the panel that holds the mirror and sockets onto this frame-mounted frame.


Slide the wires away by adding a 4 1/4 inch wide plywood facia around the panel edges.

Mask the sockets with tape and paint the unit to fit. Allow to dry and remove the mask.


Install the light bulbs.

Tips and warnings

  • Divide large ‘loads’ over 1700 watts between two separate lines with their own plugs to distribute the load safely. Connect devices with loads up to 1800 watts in a 15 amp circuit. Use a 20 amp circuit for loads greater than 1800 watts. Light bulbs 60 watts or larger can ignite flammable materials and cause third degree burns. Mount wire cages around these lamps to be extra safe.
  • A proper mirror for use when applying makeup should illuminate the face with the right light color and without damaging shadows. The problem with regular bathroom mirrors and many popular illuminated makeup mirrors is that they do not offer enough light to fill in shadows. Worse, they often use fluorescent lamps that drastically change perceptions of color. Building your own professional makeup mirror pays dividends.