diy fireplace mantel

[This is part of my FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 series.]

Lantern is a term I use for a capital that has three prominent sides, like this one.

I wanted the lanterns on this surround to be the focal point of the entire design, where even the beautifully carved corbels take on a supporting role.

Oh, and I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but they are very easy to build!

Step 1 Build the Lantern Core

It’s important to note that the lantern core (pictured below) sits lower in the top of the pilaster than do the pilaster extensions.

fireplace mantel diy

Below  Start with a simple mdf core made from MDF-200. It does not have to be pretty, this core, but it must be perfectly square so the layers that go on top look good.

diy moldings

Below  Lay the three components you built on a flat surface for final assembly.

fireplace surround

Below  Glue and nail the nailer on top of the pilaster extension.

how to install moldings

Below  All three pieces should be flush at the top.

diy moldings & millwork

Below  The bottom should look like this.

fireplace pilaster

Below  I set my new assembly in place to see how it all fits. But don’t install them permanently just yet.

diy fireplace mantel

diy mdf fireplace mantel


Step 2 Build the Lantern Frames

The only tricky part about making the frames is making the narrow bevels that fit on the outside corners of the lanterns.

And even those are easy to make once you know the trick.

custome mantel

And that trick is to:

  1. cut a piece of MDF-200 with a bevel on each side by running it through your table saw with the blade set at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Now return the table saw blade to its normal position and rip off the bevels you made to the exact width you want.

mdf board project

Below  As always, I test fit all of the pieces before installing them.

diy molding project

Below  When it’s time to install all the frame pieces, just use wood glue and 23 gauge micro pins to hold them in place.

diy molding project

home depot moldings

molding & millwork

Below  I’m using PM-004 to fill the frames, and so I scribed their positions as one last check before I permanently installed them.

michigan finish carpenter

Even after all of my careful checking, I made a small mistake with my lantern proportion. I should have made them about 3/4″ taller.

You’ll see the easy fix I used on the next post in this series.

diy traditional moldings

Below  This is such a wonderful little panel molding that I love using. But some day I’d like to make some inset panels using ornate compo pieces, like an acanthus motif.

screen molding

fireplace free plans

Below  At this point you should have left and right pilasters that look something like the ones below.

diy fireplace

What’s Next?

With the lanterns built we can now turn our attention to building the frieze, also with an inset panel.

Posts in this Series

1. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 for $333.08

2. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 2: Materials Inventory

3. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 3: Pilaster Cores

4. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 4: Corbels & Inset Panels

5. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 5: Shadow Pilasters

6. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 6: Wrapping the Crown Molding & Base

7. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 7: Pilaster Extensions

8. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 8: Lanterns

9. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 9: Lantern Crown & Collar

10. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 10: Paneled Frieze

11. How to Build FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 Part 11: Making the Hood

12. Before & After: Great Room Fireplace Mantel with Overmantel

13. How to Make OVERMANTEL-100 for About $87.39