An oak mantle, after the Arts and Crafts Style, with inset bookcase.

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Project by Greg Spencer posted 11-23-2009 08:14 PM 4967 views 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Greetings, all. This is the first mantle I’ve designed and built. It’s after the Arts and Crafts style and I just finished installing it in our recently remodeled living room. I also made the built in book case above it. I’m waiting for the finish on the trim to dry so I can install it before Thanksgiving on the bookcase and to finish off the inside edges between the mantle and the bricks. It’s made of red oak, rift cut, pretty much using standard cabinetry techniques. The overall dimensions are 60.125” wide by 50” tall. The blocks at the base are set flush with the outside edges, the top blocks are set back .250” and the long inset piece in each leg is set back .625”. All of the inside edges are hand champfered, and all the outside edges are hand eased. It was constructed in three pieces, the two legs and the cross piece, then assembled and roughed into place, with the shelf on top, so I could trim the bottoms of the legs to get it square and also so the top of the mantle shelf would line up with the bottom shelf of the bookcase, with the mantle shelf just proud of the bookcase shelf by about 1/16”. I sweated that one out. To keep them aligned, I made a doweling jig that I used to drill four holes in the edge of the bookcase and the back of the shelf, into which 5/16” dowels are dry driven. I didn’t use glue to they could move around independently with changes in the weather.
The bookcase is made of 3/4” oak plywood, including the shelves. I had some left over oak that I ran through a 3/4” bullnose bit on the router table and then ripped those edging pieces 1” deep and attached to the plywood shelves with contact cement and a few brads. The shelves are set into stopped dadoes, set back 2” from the front edge of the carcase. The back is commercially made oak bead board.
I couldn’t find the exact color stain I wanted, so I ended up applying two coats of Minwax Gunstock, which I left on for only five minutes each, and then two coats of Minwax Provincial, which I left on for 15 minutes each all rag applied (I pretreated the wood, by the way), and hand rubbed into the grain, then three coats of Minwax wipe on satin poly, with 300 grit sanding in between the coats.
In retrospect, the only thing I would have done differently would be to have edge joined four pieces of oak to use as the base of the center piece, with the grain in the two end sections pointing down, line the top and bottom blocks of the legs, and the two center sections of the grain pointing up.
The keystones in the center piece match those that I created for the window sills in the room, to tie everything together.

I hope you like it and would appreciate any comments or criticisms.

-- "If you're so damned smart, why ain't you rich..?"

6 comments so far

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3507 days

#1 posted 11-23-2009 10:47 PM

looks nice, good job

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3704 days

#2 posted 11-24-2009 04:07 AM

I LIKE IT! Great lines and grain choice. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3360 days

#3 posted 11-24-2009 09:33 PM


-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3604 days

#4 posted 11-24-2009 10:13 PM

Nice project.

View Greg Spencer's profile

Greg Spencer

14 posts in 3358 days

#5 posted 11-24-2009 11:22 PM

thanks, all.
i wish i had enough confidence in it turning out as well as it did to invest in quarter sawn white oak. this was the biggest project i’ve tried so far. i’m going to try an A&C style clock next.

-- "If you're so damned smart, why ain't you rich..?"

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2921 days

#6 posted 06-11-2011 04:46 AM

great work ! nice design .

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