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How to Build a Mantel Shelf

A mantel shelf above a fireplace adds a whole new dimension to your room. A nice, large mantel draws attention to the wall and the fireplace. If the mantel is wide enough, you'll be able to display family pictures, souvenirs, vases with flowers, and other decorative items on it. Follow these basic step-by-step instructions to build a mantel above the fireplace and give your room a whole new look.

  1. Install backing boards around the fireplace. These will secure the mantel. Use a 1-by-12-inch piece of wood for the top backing board. Attach this board to the studs in the wall. It may be helpful to use a wall-stud finder to locate the studs.
  2. Cut fluted molding the size of the backing boards. Attach the molding to the backing board with wood glue.
  3. Mount three L-shaped, ornamental, wood brackets on the backing board.
  4. Place a second 1-by-12-inch piece of wood on top of the fluted molding and brackets. When it sits nicely on the brackets, glue it down with wood glue.
  5. Put simple molding along the edges of the shelf.
  6. Sand down the entire mantel.
  7. Apply primer to the mantel, using a paintbrush. Let the primer dry.
  8. Varnish the mantel with high gloss varnish and let dry. Apply another coat of varnish so the mantel has a really good finish.