I shared our recent fireplace makeover earlier this week, and now I’m going to give the promised tutorial for our DIY mantel. These things were so easy to make, and I think they were just the thing to bring a rather dated gas fireplace insert into a more classic, timeless style.
Another great thing about these little “mantels,” is that you don’t even have to have a fireplace. You can make a faux fireplace or even just a wall shelf, and you can make them in any width you want.
We made two (since we have a double sided fireplace), and ours were made to fit a fireplace box that was 40″ wide. We chose to have the actual shelf extend past the box slightly on either side.
Obviously, your dimensions may be different, so be sure to adjust accordingly. Using our measurements, here is what you need for one DIY mantel shelf:
- two wood corbels like these*
- one 1×8 cut to 40″ (or width of firebox)
- one 1×6 cut to 41.5″ (or width of firebox + 1.5″)
- one 1×4 cut to 37.75″ (or width of firebox – 2.25″)
- one piece** of 3/4″ cove molding cut at 45° to 37.75″ on the inner edge (*you are going to trim your 1×4 with the cove molding, so make sure you cut it to fit the length of your 1×4)
- one piece** of 3/4″ cove molding cut straight on the right and 45° on left to 3.5″ on the inner edge (this is also to trim your 1×4 which is actually 3.5″ wide)
- one piece** of 3/4″ cove molding cut straight on the left and 45° on right to 3.5″ on the inner edge (this is also to trim your 1×4 which is actually 3.5″ wide)
*I was given these cute little wood corbels by Osborne Wood at the Haven Conference this past summer. They are perfect for this project, and the rubber wood ones are very affordable! I also spotted these very simple ones at my local big box store. If you prefer something more elaborate (and a bit pricier), you could try something like this or any other number of options from hardware stores or online providers. Just remember, they must be < 6.5″ tall and < 3.5″ deep to fit within this plan.
**these sound complicated… don’t be intimidated. Just remember that you are framing your 1×4 with the cove molding. If my instructions are not clear, just use common sense.
Unfortunately (or fortunately…), Mr. Pax made these so quickly that I didn’t even get any process pictures. So sorry! But the process is very simple. Using carpenter’s glue and finishing nails, attach all your pieces as seen below.
Most corbels have a spot on the back to sort of hang them on screw heads. We did not use these; we actually removed the brackets and then simply attached the corbels using wood glue and finishing nails. They lay flatter that way. Then, of course, we secured the entire shelf to the fireplace. How to do this will depend entirely on the structure of your fireplace, so I’ll let you figure that one out. 😉 We used four giant screws which we countersunk into the 1×8.
Then I used wood filler on the nail holes, caulked all the seams, primed the raw wood, and painted the whole thing with two coats of oil based trim paint.
And I love them! As I shared earlier this week, I think it’s a rather dramatic makeover.
So do you have a fireplace that could use a simple mantel? Or can you think of a spot in your home that could use a faux one? Where would you put it?
NOTE: At the moment, we are only using this fireplace for decorative purposes. PLEASE be sure if you have a working fireplace to read all safety precautions and manuals on your fireplace to ensure that you are not putting combustible materials in an unsafe area!
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