Even a simple Mantel can be a challenge

I am toying with the idea of backdating entries on WoodDance.com to the date the job was completed. Here is an example of a job, to build a custom fireplace mantel, that I completed in Feb. 2006 but I am posting almost two years later.

As with most jobs, I visit the location to assess the situation and make the required measurements.
My client wanted a fireplace mantel built in their family room.


I would have to build this mantel to fit.

  • Maintain 8″ stone for code
  • Build top of mantel below built-in flatscreen TV
  • Accommodate center channel speaker built-in wall. (right in the middle!)

I measured it up and left the client with a book showing various styles of Fireplace mantels to choose from. Later we agreed on what was feasible and might look good and I built it up in my shop.

I built the mantel based on a plywood panel so I could cut out for the speaker and maintain strength. I cut the plywood ends at 45ยบ and added edges to keep the plywood away from the wall the thickness of the stone surround. I made some custom plinth blocks and added some 1×3 legs. The capitals got another wrap of 3/4″ wood and then trimmed out.
For the mantel shelf I laminated a piece of 1/2″ finish ply to a piece of 3/4″ for a nice thick profile. For the leading edge, I used the same trim that crowns every door and window casing in my own house.

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