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How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 for c. $162.00: Part 1

how to build a diy mdf fireplace mantelTraditional Style

Finish Carpenter Price c. $1,200.00

A fireplace mantel with this much detail can cost between $1,200.00 – $2,000.00, if you buy it from a reputable company that sells them.

But think of all the moldings you could afford to buy for your home if you make your own fireplace mantel, not to mention the bragging rights of doing it yourself.

So let me help you save some money by showing you how I built this one.

Granted, if you follow these step by step instructions, you’ll be building most of your fireplace surround from mdf board and not hardwoods.

Both last a long time, but hardwoods are very expensive and mdf is very inexpensive.


How to Build FIREPLACE-102 Series Posts

1.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 for c. $162.00: Part 1

2.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 2: Make the Pilasters

3.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 3: Make the Collar & Capitals

4.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 4: Make the Frieze

5.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 5: Make the Hood

6.  FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Gallery

 free diy fireplace mantel plans

Here’s the full wall before I installed the mantel.  The builder supplied a nice black marble tile slip around the opening, as per code, but left my friend with no fireplace.

how to build a fireplace mantel

The friend I made this mantel for loves the finer details seen during the Federal period, so I made his with as many Federal elements as I could — the most important of which are the purely Federal style wheat motif woodworking applique that went on the center panel.

fireplace mantel federal style

 

Materials Needed to Make this Fireplace Mantel

[See my DIY Molding Inventory page for more detail about these materials.]

MDF-200 $30.61

Buy yourself a full sheet of 1/2″ thick, 4′ X 8′ mdf board.

Home Depot sells it for $30.61 per sheet, but you can get a much better price at your local lumber yard or cabinet shop.

More about MDF-200 here >>

MDF-300 $45.97

Same thing here.  Buy a full sheet of 3/4″ thick, 4′ X 8′ mdf board.

You can buy this at Home Depot for $45.97, or go to a local independent lumber yard and save some cash.  The upside of buying it from Lowes or Home Depot is that they all have safe and accurate panel saws to cut your large boards down to manageable sizes with.  It’s a reasonable price to pay for that kind of convenience.

More about MDF-300 here >>

CM-005

Small, ogee crown molding (like what’s used on cabinetry) for the main crown detail that supports the mantel top.

More about CM-005 here >>

crown molding small pine material lowes

$11.96/8′ stick (2 ea.) = $39.20

PM-003

Small cove molding for the mantel edge.

More about PM-003 here >>

how to install moldings

$4.16/8′ stick (2 ea.) = $8.32

PM-004

Screen molding for inset panels.

More about PM-004 here >>

panel screen molding from lowes home improvement

$4.80/8′ stick (4 ea.) = $19.20

PM-001

Panel molding for fireplace collar.

More about PM-001 here >>

panel trim molding from lowes home improvement

$4.98/8′ stick (2 ea.) = $9.96

PM-005

An ogee panel molding for the pilaster plinth cap.

More about PM-005 here >>

how to install moldings

$8.80.00/8′ stick (1 ea.) = $8.80

Ornate Special Order Items

I did not include the prices of these items in the materials total because your ornate details may cost more or less.

Choosing your own special ornate touches is one of the nicest things about designing and building your own fireplace mantel.  And it’s especially fun to look for corbels because there are many companies that make really nice ones at good prices, so there are a lot for you to choose from out there.

But don’t be cheap when buying your ornate details.  One of the guiding principles behind our approach to decorating with moldings, is that you save so much money by using simple materials for the moldings that you can afford to buy the best ornate details available.

Corbel-003

If the corbels you use have different dimensions from thse, then you’ll have to adjust the width of your capitals and the width of your pilasters accordingly.

But hey, you’ve gotten this far already, so I’m sure you’ll do just fine making your adjustments.

More about Corbel-003 here >>

fireplace with corbels

Shopping for corbels is so much fun!

Wheat & Ribbon Woodworking Applique

You’ve worked too hard building your fireplace to install appliques with poor resolution.  These ornate appliques are the best money can buy.

This wheat and ribbon applique was a popular motif during the American Federal Period.  The smaller one I installed on the fireplace frieze center panel (those pictures will be added later), and the wider applique I installed on the door surround in the same room.

woodworking applique for fireplace

Don’t skimp on your decorative appliques — buy the best.

Rectangular Acanthus Rosettes for Capitals

I made inset panels on the capitals for this specific rectangular rosette.  I wanted them to fit snugly inside.

fireplace mantel ornate decorations


How to Build FIREPLACE-102 Series Posts

1.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 for c. $162.00: Part 1

2.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 2: Make the Pilasters

3.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 3: Make the Collar & Capitals

4.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 4: Make the Frieze

5.  How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Part 5: Make the Hood

6.  FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 Gallery

Good luck!

9 Responses to How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-102 for c. $162.00: Part 1

  1. Dennis Ferons November 8, 2012 at 6:19 PM #

    Are there down loadable plans for this fireplace mantle? If not are they available in a book I can purchase?

    • Ken November 8, 2012 at 6:53 PM #

      Everything you see in this series is all that all there is, Dennis. Just my snapshots and descriptions.

      I sometimes make rough sketches to flesh out the overall design and a few dimensions, but other than that I just figure it out as I go. Improvisational finish carpentry!

      You’ll be hard pressed to find plans for a mantel like this or any other molding pattern you find on our blog. And that’s exactly why we created The Joy of Moldings.

      If you want to tackle a mantel like this without detailed plans, then don’t hesitate to ask for help along the way. That’s what I’m here for.

  2. Shawn McDonough December 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM #

    Where did you purchase the corbels that you used in this “How To Guide”?

    • Ken December 16, 2012 at 6:52 PM #

      Sean, I bought those from Outwater Plastics about seven years ago. I just took a look at their website and did not find those corbels. It’s too bad, it’s a great design.

      • Shawn McDonough December 16, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

        Thanks for the info anyway.

      • Brian January 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM #

        Ken, check out page 542, item number C1014 on the Outwater Plastics online catalog. Looks like this is your design, but I’m not sure about the dimensions.
        Brian

        • Ken January 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM #

          You found it Brian! That’s the exact corbel I used. Thanks!

  3. Greg January 12, 2013 at 6:18 AM #

    Looks strangely familiar . . . Love it!

    • Ken January 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM #

      Your fireplace, Hammer, is one of the most popular installation sequences on this here entire blog.

      It was a real joy builing it for you!

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