Rough Hewn Wood Fireplace Mantel

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.

rough hewn wood mantel 1


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.

rough hewn wood mantel 2


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.

rough hewn wood mantel 3


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.

rough hewn wood mantel 4


I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and can’t wait to decorate it!

rough hewn wood mantel 5


rough hewn wood mantel 6

Even without it decorated yet (and with the screen still unpainted), this fireplace has certainly come a long way!

rough hewn wood mantel before and now


Want to build your own rough hewn wood mantel? Here’s how…


Project Cost:

Approximately $25.


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.

  1. Two pieces of 1″ x 8″ lumber, six feet long,
  2. One piece of 1″ x 8″ lumber, 8 feet in length,
  3. Two pieces of wood veneer, approx. 9″ x 11″ each,
  4. Wood glue,
  5. Wood stain,
  6. Polyurethane,
  7. 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),
  8. Miter saw,
  9. Utility knife,
  10. 150-grit sandpaper,
  11. Paint brush,
  12. Rag for applying stain,
  13. 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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


I stained the end, and clamped it while the glue dried.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


Using a utility knife with a new (very sharp) blade, I cut away the excess veneer.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


And finally, I stained the ends, and then applied polyurethane to the whole mantel.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace 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.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


And here’s how it looked after it was stained.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


The finished product is a chunky wood mantel that adds warmth to the room, and breaks up the large expanse of brick.

How to make a rough hewn wood fireplace mantel


And after everything is dry, the fun part can begin…the decorating!

Psstt…click here to see this room completely decorated.


Helpful Hints:

  1. Be sure to purchase the straightest boards possible. Warped boards will ruin a project.
  2. Double check your measurements before cutting. Please don’t just go by my measurements.



  1. 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.
  2. Rough hewn corbels could be added to give the mantel an even chunkier, more substantial look.

Enter your name and email below to receive:

New posts delivered to your inbox * Giveaways exclusive to subscribers
Exclusive behind-the-scenes videos * Additional DIY tips
The occasional DIY project, just for subscribers
A plate of warm, freshly baked cookies

(Okay, probably not that last one.)  :)


  1. Andrea says

    It looks awesome! I have always loved mantel decor but unfortunately we don't have a fireplace! I can't wait to see what you put up there!! A sunburst mirror, perhaps?! 😉

  2. Stephanie says

    Wow, Kristi, that looks great! It doesn't look "built," it looks like one solid piece of awesomeness.

  3. Angela N says

    Looks good!  And I am so glad you painted out the shelves next to the fireplace.  They look so nice!

  4. Courage30117 says

    I had a question recently on my blog about how to make an inexpensive mantel. This is great. I hope you don't mind but I am sendinging that reader to you blog. This is great.

  5. Anne Sullivan says

    For whatever reason, adding the mantle also makes the bricks go from reading as "sterile white" to "warm grey" which is just lovely. I think I say this about once a month, and it's about time for me to say it again…I wish you lived near me!!

  6. CA_Powell says

    You're so funny! Of course you would make your own!!!  It's beautiful, of course, like everything you do.

    I might be developing a bit a design crush on you…..

  7. cozycondoliving says

    Wow!  That mantel looks great.  I'm trying to picture how you did it.  Did you paint it to look old?  I can't believe the change from the original.  I bet the home owners are ecstatic.  Love your blog!!!

  8. Mab says

    This looks fabulous! When you were talking about a mantel, I couldn't really envision it, but I whole-heartedly agree with your choice. And, I think the bookshelves are great now — they blend in more but still provide interest.

  9. Danielle Popp says

    Any plans to paint the gold accent on the fireplace doors? I recently did ours by taking them off and taping off the glass. I just used a black matte high heat paint after sanding down the gold. I *love* the transformation, too! They seem to just fade away :) Keep up the great work!!

  10. Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating says

    It's already been painted.  :)  I just didn't have time to do it before taking these pictures.

  11. Angie @ says

    LOVE this!!!  How did you attach it? I would love to know because I am trying to make a floating shelf like this.  Thanks!  Angie

  12. Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating says

    Just click on the DIY button at the bottom of the post for all of the details.  :)

  13. Ginger Snaps says

    That's turned out really nice.  :)  I'd love for you to link this up over at my {wow me} wednesday link party going on over on my blog right now. :)  Following from Fingerprints on the Fridge. :)

  14. Mandy @ This Girl's Life says

    Love this! I want to do something similar with our fireplace, including some sort of shelving on the left side like you have. This is great inspiration! Visiting from the DIY Showoff. :)

  15. Kbvandergrift says

    i LOVE this mantel!!!  i have a brick fireplace and have been contemplating leaving it and doing a white mantel or something similar to this.  you just sold me on the painted fireplace and distressed mantel!!!  LOVE this style!!  do you have a step by step on the best way to clean and paint brick???
    thank you!

  16. Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating says

    I don't have one yet, but since I've had several people ask, I'll move it to the top of my "to do" list.  :)

  17. Kbvandergrift says

    lol, thank you!!!  i showed my husband the mantel "how to"  and we are definately going to attempt this project!!! :)

  18. Lauren says

    LOVE IT! I am about to start this project but I can’t find the wood veneer that THIN anywhere. Where did you get the adhesive wood veneer for the end caps? Home Depot & Lowes only sell 1/4″ thick. Any help would be appreciated.

  19. Andrea says

    hi there. just wondering if you could give me the name, and color of the stain you used? LOVE IT!
    thanks. -andrea

      • andrea says

        thanks for getting back with me. we went and got all of our supplies (except veneer- ive checked ace, home depot, lowes and can’t find it anywhere here in good ol’ vegas) and we are going to attempt it tomorrow.
        just a quick questions… as we were looking over the pictures- after you stained it- and you sat it all up before you nailed it- where did you put the nails in? it doesn’t look like there are any nail noles in the top. are the nails noticeable from the front? thanks so much! i appreciate you getting back with me.

        • Ashli says

          I have the same question about the nail holes! It doesn’t look like there are any nail holes in the front of the mantel. Can you explain how you did it? Thanks!

  20. Rachael says

    My husband and I just made this mantel and love it! However, we cannot find veneer anywhere. Do you mind telling where you bought it? Thanks so much!

  21. says

    SUCH a great tutorial!!! I’ve been wanting to do this to our mantel and never even thought to add the veneer to the ends. That makes it look so much more authentic. Thanks for the great post:):)

  22. designdreamer says

    You are a genius!!!
    Just found you — well a couple of days ago, and gosh if I haven’t been glued to my computer ever since!!!
    Thank you, thank you!!! for your generosity in publishing your knowlege, and how-tos.
    WOW!!! So impressed.

  23. Todd says

    Could I ask where you bought the wood veneer? I can only find edge banding or 2’x8′ sheets that cost ~$50. Any advice would be appreciated. Great addition!

  24. Priscilla says

    Everything about your place is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it all!!!! Keep doing what you’re doing!

  25. Adam says

    This was a really great project! I decided to copy the project myself, however I went with an ebony stain to contrast the white fireplace (picture links below). We were really happy with the results. For anyone having trouble finding the veneer wood pieces, my wife and I actually found them at Michaels (I believe Hobby Lobby has them as well). Lowes and Home Depot only seemed to carry the long rolls that you have to iron on. Hope this helps!

    Before/After 01:

    Before/After 02:

  26. Sharon says

    Any tips on applying the polyurethane? I have never done it before. I have built a mantle with the help of your tutorial but I’m a little afraid to attempt the last step! Thanks!

  27. Alisha says

    Love your rough hewn mantel. Where do you recommend buying the peel and stick veneer? I can’t find any

  28. Amber says

    Love this makeover! Can you please provide the “light gray” color you used on the fireplace? It’s fantastic! Thanks in advance. :)

  29. Kevin says

    The way this was constructed it seems like you would see the edge of the front board on the top and bottom of the mantel. Did your lumber have a finished edge or is the stain darker there? What kind of wood did you use?

  30. wes says

    For those who are asking about veneer, there is another cheaper way if you have a miter saw. You simply miter the corners of the front board and the two side boards and sand the corners once you’ve put it together just like she did with the veneer. No veneer needed that way and you don’t have to worry about the veneer coming lose when the heat from the fire hits it. It also will ensure a perfect match with the wood and probably will look better.

  31. Cindy says

    We used these plans as a guide to make our own and it turned out great! We are very happy with it. Thank you for posting!

  32. koz says

    I want to make one of these. Do you think if i ripped a 45° mitre cut along the length of the boards they would come together to look like a sold single piece of wood?

  33. Kathy says

    I would love to add this to my “Pinterest” but the image is not working. I absolutely love this DIY mantel, it’s just what I’ve been looking for. I also plan to use this idea for my dining room for a double shelf above my canning cabinet using 1X6s. Thank you!

  34. Ed B. says

    Just about done with my mantel. Thank you for your tutorial. It totally makes my fireplace pop. One question… I went to Michaels and bought a sheet of the uber thin birch veneer and have trimmed to fit and put two coats of stain on prior to gluing it. How did you distress the veneer? I’m concerned that I’ll go right through it if I try even a modest amount of distressing (it’s so thin I can cut it with scissors).

    Thanks, again!

    – Ed.

    • says

      I don’t really remember doing a whole lot of distressing (if any) on the ends, but I did use sandpaper on the ends, especially around the edges of the veneer to make them blend with the other wood better. The square cut veneer ends are very visible, but if you give them some sanding, it’ll round the edges slightly and make it blend in better. But I wouldn’t really worry about distressing the ends.

  35. Joni Gutrece says

    Hello there,
    I love this mantel and want to give it a whirl this weekend! I had a question which I saw a couple of others had but don’t see an answer to it. You said after staining you stood it up and nailed it but there doesn’t appear to be any visible nails in the front. Are there? What type of nails did you use that they aren’t noticeable from the front? I don’t have a nail gun so I’ll need to use the good ol’ hammer!
    Thank you!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *