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Old 08-20-2012, 08:06 AM   #1
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Building a fireplace mantel shelf

Ok, so I'm looking to build a pretty simple fireplace mantel and just wanted some opinions to come up with a plan before I start. I'm thinking of building a mantel as described in this video:

Basically it uses 1x lumber, with the edges mitered to 45 degree angles, with the mitered edges glued and nailed together, and finally attached to the wall via a ledger that it slips over. It's a very simple/square designed mantel, no fancy molding or anything. I have an 18gauge brad nailer, and I can borrow a friends table saw, so tools wise I'm a-ok.

One big question I had is what wood would be best? Oak or pine? The video recommends clear pine, but I thought pine sometimes took stains unevenly, but perhaps with a very dark stain it doesn't really matter? Also, would the mantel shelf be sufficiently strong with simply 45 degree mitered corners, glue and small brad nails? I know the attachment to the wall should be rock solid with a ledger, but I just want to make sure the shelf itself is strong enough. I'd estimate its final dimensions to be somewhere around 48"W x 5" high x ~6"deep.

I'm very unfamiliar/new to carpentry (I've built a couple things out of wood, but nothing I could proudly post pictures of ), so any suggestions are very much appreciated.


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Old 08-20-2012, 08:23 AM   #2
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looks like a 2 1/2" ripped 2x ledger so really that will be the most important dimension for the size of the mantel so you would want 1 1/2" to the short point of your 45 degree bevel rips so the mantel caps the ledger tightly. so, materials to get would be 1x6 for top and bottom, 1x4 for front and sides, 2x4 for ledger, and glue and bolts. be sure to attach everything to wall studs...

buy all mantle material at the same spot so the stain matches each piece closely and there is not much color variation.


Last edited by hand drive; 08-20-2012 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:22 PM   #3
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Pine usually winds up looking 'blotchy' when stained, oak can look 'streaky'. Both are due to the variations in open and closed or tight grain.The cure is the same in both cases. After you sand and clean apply pre-stain conditioner. Available where ever you buy your stain and top coat. Just make sure all three are the same base, all water base or all spirit or oil base. If you use water base you are going to get some 'grain rise.' No matter what base I am using I often raise the grain on purpose, wipe it down with a cloth that is more than damp but less than sopping wet. Let it dry then sand with 180 or even finer. Best to sand any grain rise before staining, other wise you sand off stain from the raised grain. Some pre-stains allow you to stain B4 they are really dry, making it hard to sand so it might be best to purposely raise the grain, sand, clean, pre-treat, stain, topcoat. If you get a stain that does not have a top coat included, Min-wax makes some of those, you can apply stain, if its not dark enuff stain again, if too dark you mite can sand some out. You know how some products say "apply to an inconspicuos place?" Try out your sanding, cleaning, pre-treating, staining, (re-staining,re- sanding), topcoating etc on some of the scraps before you do it to your master piece.

Last edited by notmrjohn; 08-20-2012 at 03:26 PM.
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