Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fireplace (At Last!) Gets a Mantel

Yesterday was my birthday. As such, I thought it was a perfect day to ask Scotty to think about creating a mantel for the great room fireplace. We had the wood - a thick plank cut from a locust tree - and we had an idea of what the finished product should look like. All we needed was a little time and a little whining . . . and the mantel project was underway!
The big locust plank had been drying in the barn for over two years and has been acclimating to the indoor climate since we carried it to the basement sometime earlier this year. It is heavy! This particular tree had to be cut down to make way for the addition so it is rather poetic that a slice of it will soon be a permanent great room fixture. The plank was cut when the sawmill visited during Lumberjack Day 2013.
Scott cut a piece of rigid insulation 66-inches wide so we could see what the finished product might look like. It also helped determine the finished depth of the mantel.
Using a straight edge, Scott penciled in the outline of the finished piece. The overall depth of the mantel will be nine inches, with six inches resting on the brick and three inches cantilever. The live edge of the locust will be maintained.
After a lot of discussion about what tool to use, the circular saw was called into action. Scott lopped the end off first.
Now comes the hard part . . . trimming the back half of the plank away. We wanted to run it through the table saw but determined through a dry run that the plank was just too heavy for the two of us to support while feeding it through the saw.
Scott screwed the straight edge to the plank, propped it up on a stack of 2x4s, and fired up the circular saw again.
My job was to stand near the smoke detector and push the button when it started screeching. I'm not sure why we didn't stop as soon as the smoke started to fill the room - but eventually we wised up and moved the operation outside.
Once out on the courtyard concrete, Scott easily sliced through the plank.
The short ends were cleaned up with the chop saw (conveniently currently set-up in the garage.)
"Ta Da!"
Once the cut-down plank was placed on the brick, we could easily imagine the finished product. All but the live edge will need to be sanded and clear-coated. The live edge needs to be cleaned up a bit to eliminate any loose bark and dirt. Scott is also considering how to attach it to the brick; we may end up using some mortar which would alleviate any gaps inherent with the natural warp of the plank. In any case, it looks like our stockings will have a proper home this Christmas!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

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