Introduction

Mantel Tout
Photo: Kolin Smith
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The stockings are hung by the chimney, but who cares? That mantel they're strung from is a joke. Its boring profile may have looked pretty festive dressed up on holidays past, but we all know that sagging shelf's barely fit to foot a mug of eggnog. So why not rip it out and get a new one? The chimney is permanent, but the mantel's just a front. It's basically a frame for the fire, an extremely elaborate piece of molding. Sharp, detailed models come in kits that lock together with a few twists of the Phillips-head. To hang them on the wall you simply attach them to a couple of screwed-on pieces of lumber; as This Old House technical editor Mark Powers shows on the following pages, the whole job takes less than a day.
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    Tools List

    • hammer drill
      Hammer drill with 3/16-inch masonry bit
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • hand saw
      Saw,
      to cut 2v4s
    • four-foot level
      3-foot level
    • torpedo level
      Torpedo level
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun
    • flathead screwdriver
      Screwdriver

    Shopping List

    1. MANTEL

    Comes in a kit with legs, a shelf, and interior trim.



    2. SHIMS

    to level the mantel.



    3. 2x4 LUMBER

    for cleats on which the mantel will hang. Two 8-foot pieces should do it.



    4. 2 1/2-INCH-LONG 1/4-INCH CONCRETE SCREWS

    for attaching the mantel to a brick chimney. If the wall isn't brick, use 3-inch decking screws to attach the cleats to the studs.



    5. 2-INCH FINISH SCERWS

    to fasten the mantel to the cleats. Finish screws (aka trim heads) have small heads that sink below the surface without the need to drill a countersink hole first.



    6. 4d FINISH NAILS

    to attach the edge molding.



    7. WOOD PUTTY

    to fill screw holes.



    8. CAULK

    if you're painting the mantel, to fill gaps where it meets the wall.