Building a Mantle

Last night was our two year anniversary, so we drank champagne while tiling our hearth.  Who says romance is dead?  I also finished Orphan Black on BBC America.  If you’re looking for a good summer series, it starts off campy but picks up quickly. We are nearing the finish line on our built-in project, with any luck we should be done tonight.

The picture above is what our living room looked like before we moved in.  I did some painting, but the set up still didn’t work for us:

After making the decision to start from scratch, we opted to build new cabinets that would be 6″ narrower (and 20″ shallower) to make room for a larger mantle to fit our tv  After the cabinet frames were up we were able to start on the mantle itself.

Materials

1. 1 x 8″ premium pine boards
2. 1 x 10″ premium pine boards
3. 1 x 2″ premium pine boards
4. 1 x 6″ premium pine boards
5. Nail gun with 1.5″ finish nails
6. Cove Molding
7. “Tiny Trim” (this is a section in the lumber part of Home Depot, ask someone who works there and they’ll guide you to it) oak cove molding
8. 1/2″ x 2.75″ poplar trim
9. Brick Mold
10. Orbital Sander and fine grit sanding pads
11. Benjamin Moore Satin Aura in White Dove
12. Painter’s Caulk
13. Loc-Tite Adhesive
14. 1/2″ Hardy Backer

I haven’t included any dimensions for this project because it is specific to our living room, but if you have any questions please ask in the comments section and we will try our best to fill in any gaps.

First we made the legs of the mantle with 1x 8″ boards nailed to 1 x 2″ to create an L shape.  These were nailed into the sides of the cabinets with the nail gun.  Don’t even think about trying this without a nail gun.  You’ll lose your mind.

I measured the width of the mantle and cut a 1 x 8″ board to fit.  I laid it on the floor and nailed all of my trim to it before putting it on the actual mantle.  The top piece of trim is Brick Mold, I cut it with a mitre saw at 45″ angles to allow the trim to wrap around the sides of the mantle.

I laid my 1 x 8 on top of the brick mold and nailed it in from the back side, my nails are only 1.5″ and the brick mold was thick enough to allow this without the nails coming through.  I then cut the poplar trim a 45 degree angles, as well, and nailed that in beneath my brick mold.  The cove molding will sit on top of the poplar trim to fit flush with the underside of the brick mold, so if you get your nails in the upper 1/2 inch of the poplar they won’t show.  I then put my tiny trim molding beneath the poplar.  If this isn’t making sense, check out the picture below:

Once everything was nailed into our 1 x 8 we used a level and nailed it to the front of our base. The top of the mantle is a piece of 1 x 6″ premium pine.  It’s cut at 90 degree angles with a 1″ overhang on every side.

We were routing our cables through the mantle, so at this point we built our television frame:
After the cables were in place we nailed a piece of 1×10″ into the back of the mantle piece to sit flush with the base legs.  We are tiling the front of the fireplace, so Jason cut 1/2″ hardy backer with our oscillating multi-tool to fit.
He glued the hardy backer to the wall with Loc-Tite Adhesive and then
used more 1 x 10 boards to fill out the inside of the mantle frame:
Before I caulked the seams I sanded them down with my orbital sander until everything felt level when I ran my hand over it.  Then I caulked with painters caulk, let it dry, and painted two coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Aura in White Dove.  At long last, our finished product:
Much nicer than the 90’s marble, right?  I don’t know what we were smoking when we came up with this idea, because it required some carpentry skills we had never attempted before, but it somehow came together beautifully.  Our entire built-in media center project took about a month to complete, but was well worth it.  The room feels substantially larger after removing the old, bulky cabinets, and we enjoy it every day.

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