Build A Fireplace Mantel

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Project number 17 on your list of woodworking projects is to build a fireplace mantel. Suddenly, much sooner than you'd thought, here you are. Have you bitten off more than you can chew? Take a deep breath. Do some research at the library or online. You will uncover tips, plans, designs, and encouragement. Keep it simple.

The first fireplaces, after all, were nothing more than holes cut into the stone of castle walls. Perhaps 1,000 years later, that's exactly what they are today. As you build a fireplace mantel, all you're doing is decorating that hole in the wall. You might be renovating a Victorian farmhouse. You might be face-lifting a condominium in the city.

Steps to Follow as You Build a Fireplace Mantel

The first step is to become very familiar with--and adhere to--every local building code and safety regulation that might apply to your jurisdiction. As early as 1621, the city of London had banned clay and clay wattle chimneys, for example, because the risk of fire was so great. Anyone with an ear to history knows of the Great Fire of London in the 17th century, which was caused by a chimney fire. Stick to the letter of the law. It's there for a reason.

It's more likely that you'll buy a fireplace mantel than build it totally from scratch. Regardless, the next step is to take your measurements. Take them very carefully. Your mantra should be the adage "measure twice, cut once." Your reward will be knowing that the focal point of your home is a fireplace you made, by hand. Another option is to hire a craftsman to build a fireplace mantel for you, per your specifications and design.

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