How to Build a Wood Mantel
How to put together a classic surround from stock lumber and moldings
The humble fireplace has come a long way. Once merely a means of cooking up grub and keeping rooms warm, it's now a ceremonial focal point that symbolizes the cozy comforts of winter—and a wood mantel gives the hearth even more warmth.
Though there's no shortage of pre-made mantels on the market, we're DIYers at heart, so we set out to build one from off-the-shelf lumber.
We opted for a traditional-looking design that goes with many types of decor. Made of ¾-inch veneer plywood, our mantel is layered with elegant pilasters that are wrapped with stock moldings and baseboard, and topped with a trimmed-out shelf.
As with any fireplace project, safety is paramount. National codes require at least 6 inches of clearance all around the firebox and an additional 1 inch for every ⅛ inch a mantel protrudes from the surface; local codes might be stricter. So tailor your design or pick your product accordingly. A cardboard template can help you determine whether a mantel is the right size and scale for your space. And make sure to secure it properly to the fireplace—find complete instructions at thisold house.com/bonus. Install one soon, and you'll love how it frames your favorite gathering spot.