Friday, September 30, 2011

Why you need to know math: New Mantel

Here it is! This is what we've been working on:

Our really pretty fireplace was missing one little thing... a mantel. If you looked closely at the fireplace, it was clear that there originally was one, but at some point it was removed and we wanted it back! Here is what we did to get a perfect mantel for our fireplace.

First: We needed something that we could attach everything to so we attached a 2 x 4 to use as our support beam. We put glue on the back and, using self-drilling bolts, we attached the beam to the fireplace, drilling the bolts into the studs of the fireplace. We started on the left side, put one bolt in, leveled the beam, installed the center bolt, made sure it was still level on the right side, and installed the rest of the bolts.

Here is the support beam installed. We wrapped the beam around the side as well so that we could wrap the mantel around the fireplace.

Since our miter saw is out in the garage, I used scrap pieces of shims to write down the measurements that I needed. This helped cut down on errors and saved a lot of frustration.

Once we had our support beam in, I was able to measure, cut and install the top piece of wood (a 1 x 6) which will act as the actual mantel and the base piece (a 1 x 3) which is what I attached the crown molding to. I attached these pieces using my fancy smancy new nail gun that I got for my birthday. This made installing the pieces of wood almost a non-job. It only took about 5 min once I had them in place.

I was feeling really good at this point. I had only spent a couple of hours on this project and I could see the end in sight. The only construction part I had left was installing the crown. And at this point you can hear the screeching of brakes......

Crown molding is hard. Let me say this again... Crown molding is HARD! I of course did not cut anything correctly the first time but luckily we needed 2 pieces anyways to be able to wrap the crown around the corners of the fireplace so I was able to use the piece I messed up on for the smaller pieces.

On the second go around, I used the cheat sheets that you see taped to our Miter saw. They tell you which way to have the saw and which side you should keep and discard for inside and outside cuts. This helped a lot, but there is a couple other tricky things about crown. You need to have the crown upside down when you cut it. You also need to cut it at the angle you are going to install it at (so you can't cut it lying flat on the table). This is quite difficult and really requires two people. This is also where knowing math comes in really handy. If you pull out all those dusty trig functions, you can calculate the angle at which you are installing your crown at and make sure you are cutting it at the correct angle. I spent more time doing this than anything else for this project.

Attach to the right side of your saw
Attach to the left side of your saw
 Even with all of these tricks, the cuts weren't perfect but that is why wood filler and caulk was invented! I installed the crown once again using my nail gun. Here are a couple of pics of the crown installed and the wood primed. I also caulked/filled all the seams so everything would look seamless (yeah I went there)

Once the primer was dry, I painted the mantel a crisp semi-gloss white (to match the brick) and Viola! New Mantel!

Here's the before and after side by side.

Believe it or not, the motivation behind this project was to have a place to decorate for fall! Come back Monday to see the mantel decked out in Fall Wonderfulness!

Cost Breakdown

Crown: 2 @ $16.64 = $32.28
2 x 4: $2.97
1 x 6: $4.97
1 x 3: $3.78
Bolts: 5 @ $0.54
Primer: $7.48
Nails came with nail gun
Already had paint

Total with tax and Lowes 5% off: $54.56
Weekend Bloggy Reading

1 comment:

  1. Great job on your mantel, it looks beautiful. I've been thinking of doing a mantel project myself.