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Fireplace Mantel

This was my second real carpentry project here at the house (the first was the workbench I built out in the shed out of the need to have a decent place to build this mantel). I hesitate to call it woodworking, as it's more trim carpentry on this project.

The main body of the mantel is made from from a laminate of 3/4" MDF over 3/4" plywood held together with wood screws and wood glue.

If you do something like this yourself, you may want to use wood over the plywood rather than MDF, as routing the MDF made an incredible mess of fine dust.  If you go with MDF, definitely wear eye, nose and mouth protection while working it.

The shelf portion of the mantel is made from crown molding and poplar board.  My Delta compound miter saw made cutting the crown molding much easier than doing it by hand or with a simple miter saw.

The detail is commercial molding, as well as some routed 1x6 oak.  The inside trim is some commercial trim ripped to size on my table saw.

The main body is held to the brick fireplace by masonary screws hidden by the vertical moulding on each side.  The shelf is hung on a strip of 2x2 screws to the fireplace, and rests on top of the main body, but is not otherwise attached to it.

Here is a picture of the fireplace before the stove and mantel (and carpet, for that matter) were installed.  We ended up replacing the old wood stove with a new pellet stove and had the chimney relined because the previous owners never burnt a hot enough fire (and used softwood) to burn off the stove gasses.  Because of that, the chimney was completely crusted in shiny, flammable creosote as shown in the photo to the right.  This photo was taken on a cold January night, the night before the chimney folks did the relining, and Melissa and I sat on the cold fireplace scraping, picking and scrubbing as much soot as we could out of the fireplace to help cut down on smell

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Here is the mantel MDF and plywood being glued together in my shed workshop.  You can see some of the initial pilot holes that will be used to hold the washer and screw-head when the body is attached to the wall.  I used masonary screws with washers and a masonary drill bit to attach it to the brick fireplace.


Here is a test-fit of the molding along the sides (the moulding was not actually glued on until the mantel was screwed to the wall inside the house, that way it hides the masonary screws.)  The side moulding is actually a leaf and vine pattern.


Here's a close-up of the right leg of the mantel.  You can see the moulding pattern, as well as the trim I put on the inside to finish the edge off.


Here is the final mantel completely assembled, painted, stained and with a bit of commercial wood decoration in the middle.  The top with the crown molding is not physically attached to the base - it simply rests on top of it.  Both the top and the base are separately attached to the brick wall.  The base uses the method described above.  The top, however, was a little more difficult.  First I measured and attached a length of 2x2 horizontally to the brick wall, in such a location as to allow the top shelf to sit on it.  Once that was done, I screwed the top shelf (which was already attached to the crown molding, painted etc) to the 2x2.  The bottom of the crown moulding just rests on the base.  The most important part of that process was measuring to ensure that the 2x2 supports the shelf, but also that the base supports the shelf as well.


Here's the mantel in-use just before Christmas 2002.  Melissa hand-made me the stocking you see hanging on the right :-)


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