Fireplace Mantel ?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by statjunk, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Hey guys,

    I've never built a fireplace mantel and wanted to know if any of you have. I'm looking to use some real nice crown molding and for it to finish off with some dental molding.

    I could wing it but figured I'd throw it out there first. Here are couple of things I know I need help with, however there are probably things I don't know I need help with.

    How is the interior box typically built?

    Any info or web info you can provide would be appreciated.

    Tom
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I would look at ThisOldHouse, dot com, or Fine Woodworking Magazine. Norm has built some, as has Tommy Silva. I expect you could find stuff all over the google. You are correct that you start with a basic box, and build up profiles with moldings.
  3. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Tom,
    I don't know if it will help at all, but I have built my own mantle. It's just that it's probably not what you have in mind in terms of style, but I will say that it's probably the longest one most people have seen.

    There used to be floor to ceiling windows, but we wanted a more horizontal look with practical applications.

    Regards,
    Howard

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  4. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  5. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Howard,

    You're certainly talented! Very nice mantle/show piece.

    Thanks for the link. My mantle is going to be quite different and probably easier than the one they show there. Once I get past the how best to approach it part I'm good to go. Obviously I know I could wing it and get there. Since I'm not in a rush I'm looking for the best way.

    So let me explain more on what I'm looking at. It's an all stone fireplace, that I built. It comes away from the wall approximately 11". The challenge here is that the stone isn't flat so I have to make sure the mantle exceeds the furthest point on the fireplace (the largest protrusion if you will). The fireplace is approximately 78" wide (protrusions also in this dimension). When I built it I sent the tops of the stone just above the brick underlayment and filled the top with unused mortor to create a nice flat surface for the mantle. The top stones are cut by a saw so I need the mantle when completed to drop just below the top of the fireplace.

    Is it just as simple as measuring out the largest box that will fit over the largest protrusions, add enough interior wood so that it's supported by the top of the fireplace and then trim it out?

    Some direction would be great. I can supply pictures but have no way to shrink them for the web.

    Thanks

    Tom
  6. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Tom,
    So you just want a horizontal piece over the existing stone, with no side returns, yes?

    Pictures would definitely help.

    It almost sounds like you'll need to be scribing to the stones in certain places, and this is not really hard to do, but it takes a jig saw and lots of forethought.

    When we see the pictures it will be easier to say what's up and what's not.

    HE
  7. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Hey Howard or anyone else that cares,

    I've figured out a way to get you some pics. I'm going to post them on craigslist.org and then post the link here. Should be completed soon.

    Yes I believe that there are returns. Meaning that there will be two miters on either end of the mantel. It isn't an elaborate project. Just want some basics because I really don't have the funds to screw this up.

    I'm wanting to use Oak and stain.

    I will post the link shortly.

    Tom
  8. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,660
    Location:
    .

    Did you try posting your pictures Tom? The reason I ask, is I am pretty sure, they will get shrunk to the size here, when you go to manage attachments. Terry would know for sure, or Redwood because he is very good with computers.

    But, I do think, I posted pictures too large and they got sized to fit the web. If you haven't tried maybe, give it a try, then, if not try Craig's List.

    Just my 2 cents worth here,
    Cookie Always with a smile! :)
  9. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Tom,
    The returns I was referring to (perhaps errantly) are vertical from the mantel top to the hearth floor.

    I understand what you're talking about: You're mitering the ends back towards the wall so as to carry the crown molding line.

    Yes, measure twice, cut once!

    HE
  10. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Here is what the fireplace looks like.

    http://detroit.craigslist.org/hsh/1059429871.html

    So here is my initial plan. Cut some 2x down to the right height of the crown plus some dental minus 5/8". The 5/8" is for over hang so that the mantle will hang below the top of the stone. Then sister up the box on the inside so that it has additional support (resting area on top of the fireplace. Put in some cripple studs in the box to prevent wood bowing and the such. Install crown molding level to the top of the box. Install dental molding for the skirt. Use a little wood glue to the top of the box and place a board across the top. Tack down the top piece to the crown molding using a brad nailer. Finally stain it.

    What do you think of this plan?

    Do I need to place the mantle in a mortor bed so it doesn't go anywhere?

    Thanks

    Tom
  11. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Tom,
    Okay.........here's what I think: I would build a 'box' out of 3/4" plywood.

    Basically the inside dimension of the box would be the dimension of the top course of the stone, + 1/2" to give you some wiggle room.

    I would make the bottom of the box inset about 3/4" from the bottom so that it will sit down over the stone and not allow the top edge to be seen.

    The back of the box would be shortened (height-wise) 3/4", or flush with the inset bottom.

    The top of the box would be flush, of course.

    The height of the box would be whatever you need to for the particular set of moldings you are using.

    Plywood would be less affected by climatic and temperature changes.

    As far as fastening it to the wall, I would suggest a French cleat, and on second thought that will affect the back of the box in terms of how 'tall' it is cut...........You'll understand if you watch the video below.

    If you're not familiar with the French cleat, here's a video of what it is and what it does:

    http://www.askthebuilder.com/French_Cleat_Video.shtml

    I look forward to seeing pictures of the finished product!

    Best,
    Howard



    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  12. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Howard,

    Thanks a bunch for your help thus far. The french cleat idea is fantastic. Thanks for the video since I wasn't familiar with such a thing.

    Of the information that you provided I'm not quite sure I understand this piece:

    I would make the bottom of the box inset about 3/4" from the bottom so that it will sit down over the stone and not allow the top edge to be seen.

    The back of the box would be shortened (height-wise) 3/4", or flush with the inset bottom.


    Is the first line indicating that I should hang the trim 3/4" below the lower plane of the box? If that's what it says then I'm all good on that one.

    The second point I have no clue what you're trying to tell me.

    Thanks

    Tom
  13. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Tom,
    Yes, you would put your dental trim at the bottom edge, or not.........You can make the bottom of the dental trim flush with bottom edge of the 3/4, and this would be preferable to being able to 'see through' the teeth, as it were.

    :)

    As far as the back of the box goes, I should have even been clearer on my 'second thought' comment.

    If you're going to do the French cleat, the wall mounted piece of the cleat will be at least 1 &1/2" tall, and then 45'ved.

    The piece/cleat on the back of the box has to be cut so that when the box is slid over the cleat, it will allow the box to come to rest 3/4" past the stone.

    Dig?

    Of course now that I've been thinking about it, this piece is not very heavy to begin with, and if there are studs in back of the wallboard, or even masonry, you can screw right through the back of the box into studs, if available, or use the Blue Screws (I don't know what they're called, but they thread into masonry needing only a proper sized pilot hole).

    You'll then put your top piece on and you're cooked.

    If this thing ends up weighing more than 15 pounds it would be a lot, and if it's sitting on the stone you set, then it only needs to be held tight to the wall.

    How's that?

    HE
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
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