Step 3: Position the cleats

Positioning the mantel cleats.
Photo: Kolin Smith
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With the mantel face-down on the floor, measure the inside width of the shelf to determine the length of the horizontal cleat. Cut a 2x4 to this measurement and dry-fit it in place inside the shelf. (On some mantels, the cleats may have to be installed in pieces to accommodate blocking.)

With the top cleat positioned, measure for the length and the depth of the vertical leg cleats. Cut 2x4 cleats (double up for a thicker mantel) and dry-fit them inside the legs.

Tip: Don't wrestle with the cleats' lengths—their position should be precise, but they don't need to butt snugly together.
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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.