Ideas for a homemade fireplace mantel

Written by audra bianca
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Ideas for a homemade fireplace mantel
A fireplace mantel offers a space for placing family treasures and decorations. (stockings on a mantle image by Michael Drager from Fotolia.com)

Making your own fireplace mantel offers the opportunity to save money. Use new materials or incorporate reclaimed materials in your homemade fireplace mantel design. It is exciting to know when you finish building your mantel, you will produce a centrepiece for family memories, not just at holidays, but at any time of year.

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Manufactured Lumber

A fireplace mantel made of manufactured lumber constitutes a solid woodworking project. Pre-cut pieces of wood form the left and right sides of the frame. The top section, or mantel, consists of pieces that extend from the wall and a horizontal piece along the top that serves as the mantel shelf. This mantel looks impressive with decorative effects, such as crown moulding and other wood pieces that accentuate the design. A natural finish of stain or varnish may work, but a final coat of paint such as ivory can make pre-cut lumber look more refined.

Timber

Your fireplace may include a frame of natural stone instead of brick or wood. Use expensive craftsman timbers or found timbers to create a simple horizontal mantel piece. This type of wood gives a different look than manufactured lumber, especially because you can see the wood's knots and other imperfections. Another option involves visiting a junkyard or wood salvage yard and finding timbers. They might be left over from old boats, heavy furniture or even fireplaces. With a simple piece of timber mantel over stone or brick, the challenge becomes dressing the mantel for the seasons.

Concrete Work

Sometimes you can't rely on wood or timber for your mantel design when your fireplace recesses into a flat brick wall. With concrete block, wallboard or other masonry materials, you can build two wall extensions, one on either side of the fireplace frame. These sections of wall create a sense of depth for an otherwise flat wall. The design becomes complete with a long piece of lumber or even the top section of an antique headboard serving as the mantel shelf. Braces on these wall extensions provide support for the shelf.

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