I decided that John & Alice’s fireplace needed a mantel after all. So I made a mantel to look like a rough hewn chunk of wood.
I’m really glad I changed my mind and decided to add a mantel. I think this mantel adds some very needed warmth to the fireplace wall. (And no, I still haven’t painted the screen. I blacked out the brass for the first picture so that it wouldn’t be distracting.)
The mantel also helps to break up the towering height of the brick. And once the mantel is decorated, the impact of the brick will be reduced even more.
Of course, the real thing…a real chunk of wood that size…can cost anywhere from $200 for the most basic, up to several hundred dollars. So naturally, I chose to make my own. It came in just under $25.
The construction was quite simple…1” x 8” pieces of lumber, cut to 6 feet long, and then a couple of pieces for the ends.
I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and can’t wait to decorate it!
Even without it decorated yet (and with the screen still unpainted), this fireplace has certainly come a long way!
Want to build your own rough hewn wood mantel? Here’s how…
Tools & Materials:
*These materials and instructions are for a mantel that measures 8″ x 8″ x 6′ wide. You’ll need to make adjustments if your mantel needs to be wider or narrower.
- Two pieces of 1″ x 8″ lumber, six feet long,
- One piece of 1″ x 8″ lumber, 8 feet in length,
- Two pieces of wood veneer, approx. 9″ x 11″ each,
- Wood glue,
- Wood stain,
- Nail gun with 1.5″ finishing nails (if you don’t have a nail gun, you can assemble the mantel with finish nails and a hammer),
- Miter saw,
- Utility knife,
- 150-grit sandpaper,
- Paint brush,
- Rag for applying stain,
- Items for distressing wood (hammer, nail, flathead screwdriver).
Because I wanted my mantel to look rough hewn, I actually looked for lumber that already had some marks, knots, cracks, etc.
Using my miter saw, I cut my 8-foot piece of 1″ x 8″ lumber down to 6 feet, so that I had three pieces that were each six feet long. I then used a random assortment of tools to distress the wood.
After the wood was distressed, I stained each of the three 6-foot pieces of 1″ x 8″ lumber. The stain really brought out all of the distress markings that I had made.
With the front, sides, and ends of each piece stained, I then stood two pieces on their edges, and placed one piece on top, as shown below. Using wood glue and my nail gun, I secured the boards together as shown.
I then used the piece of 1″ x 8″ lumber that I cut off of the 8-foot piece to cut smaller pieces for the ends. This cut measured 5 11/16″. (Double check your own measurements. Please don’t go by my measurements without measuring.) I secured these pieces to the ends using wood glue and my nail gun.
I stained the end, and clamped it while the glue dried.
At this point I was ready to hang the mantel. This brick fireplace previously had a crown moulding/corbel mantel on it, which was installed on these 2″ x 4″ pieces of lumber in the brick. I used these same supports for the new mantel. With the open back towards the fireplace, I slipped the new mantel over the supports and secured it in place with a few finish nails through the top of the mantel and into the 2″ x 4″ supports.
At that point, the mantel looked like this. I could have opted to leave it like this, and it would have been fine. But I was hoping for a more finished look, and I wanted the mantel to look more like one big chunk of wood.
So I used pieces of wood veneer to cover the ends. The wood veneer I had came with adhesive already on the back. I simply had to peel away the protective paper and stick it into place.
Using a utility knife with a new (very sharp) blade, I cut away the excess veneer.
I then used 150-grit sandpaper to sand away the edges of the veneer so that it would blend into the other pieces and give the appearance of one solid piece of wood.
And finally, I stained the ends, and then applied polyurethane to the whole mantel.
Here is a view of the other end, done exactly the same way. The corner on this end had a dented corner, so I cut the veneer accordingly.
And here’s how it looked after it was stained.
The finished product is a chunky wood mantel that adds warmth to the room, and breaks up the large expanse of brick.
And after everything is dry, the fun part can begin…the decorating!
- Be sure to purchase the straightest boards possible. Warped boards will ruin a project.
- Double check your measurements before cutting. Please don’t just go by my measurements.
- You could take the veneer a step further and add veneer to the top and the bottom, covering the edges of the 1″ x 8″ lumber, and really giving your mantel the appearance of one solid chunk of wood.
- Rough hewn corbels could be added to give the mantel an even chunkier, more substantial look.