Live Edge Cedar Mantel

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Project by JBWelker posted 11-13-2015 07:43 PM 1279 views 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

After recently moving, well a couple years ago now, my wife and I were thrilled to have a fireplace. The large stone fireplace was lacking a mantel, and we debated on whether we should add one or not. After coming across a beautiful piece of cedar, I decided that it would make the perfect mantel for our fireplace.

The piece of cedar I had was originally about 8 feet long, 3-1/2” thick, and 15” wide with two live edges. My first step of the process was to rip one of the live edges off. Given the thickness and weight of the board, I ended up ripping it with a circular saw in two passes – one from each face. The next step was to strip off the loose bark from other live edge. After that, the challenging part began…

Since the mantel was to be mounted against the stone, a straight edge would have left some very large gaps between the mantel and stone work. In order to get a better fit I needed to scribe it, and since the mantel was so thick, I had to scribe both the top and bottom faces. I ended up using a compass to scribe the stone onto some scrap 1/4” hardboard I had laying around. Also, since I was going to scribe both faces, I ended up hollowing out a large portion of the edge of the mantel so I could cut each face along my template (it was also nice to remove some weight). After cutting the templates, test fitting, and making adjustments, I traced the templates on the each side of the mantel piece and cut it. The fit was not perfect, but it was actually better than I thought it was going to be. Most parts rest directly against the stone and the biggest gap is probably about 1/4”.

Once the mantel was cut to size and scribed, I sanded and finished it with a few coats of poly. I attached the mantel to the stone with 1/2” threaded rods. The rods go about 2/3 of the way through the mantel and about 6” into the wall. I did not end up not cementing the rods in place as the weight of the mantel and fit of the rods was enough to keep in securely in place.

For what seemed like it was going to be a very simple project (only one board, no joinery, etc.), it was actually very time-consuming and tedious. I was also a little on the fence about having a mantel for the fireplace to begin with, but I am glad I put it up now.

-- Josh, Missouri

1 comment so far

View Ken90712's profile


17111 posts in 2694 days

#1 posted 11-17-2015 06:30 PM

Great job, looks really nice. We’re our own worst critics.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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