Not everyone can be a fine carpenter, but you can make your fireplace a thing of beauty if you follow basic principles of the craft.
- Step 1: Mount any plinth blocks or decorative motifs and moldings you choose. Nail the mantle shelf into the breastplate and on top of the columns.
- TIP: Consider fireplace inserts that are designed to be attractive replacements for a real fire.
- Step 2: Countersink all nail heads and fill holes. Then sand, prime, and paint or stain your new mantel.
- FACT: The United States Fire Association reports that creosote buildup in chimneys accounts for 36 percent of residential home fires.
- Step 3: Screw the boxes onto the brace backing you built onto the fireplace front with the screw gun, being careful to use the level to make sure everything is square.
- Step 4: Build the vertical and horizontal base boxes from the 1-inch pine or hardwood, choosing the depth you want. Then nail or screw them together.
- TIP: The mantle is usually 60 inches from the floor.
- Step 5: Attach the brace to the wall that the mantle boxes will be moored to, pre-drilling holes in the masonry. Anchor it with the 10-inch masonry screws.
- Step 6: Cut out the breastplate – the rectangular piece that fits over the firebox – to reach as high as the mantle shelf and as wide as the outside of the columns. Secure it with the 2-inch masonry screws.
- Step 7: Use the level to sketch the fireplace outline around the firebox. Measure to mark the line on the stone or brick for the mantle ledge and columns or legs.