Fireplace mantle

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Project by tyka posted 01-11-2011 04:39 AM 3235 views 16 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sleek looking contemporary mantle provides a good contrast next to natural stone, both being natural products. I laminated 4 pieces of 3/4” Birch. Stained the mantle with Minwax gel stain. Polished it with fiberglass rubbing compounds following 8 coats of Minwax wipe-on finish.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

13 comments so far

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#1 posted 01-11-2011 04:42 AM

Wow – that polishing effort really paid off! Very impressive – thanks for sharing!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View gbrown4's profile


116 posts in 2720 days

#2 posted 01-11-2011 04:49 AM

I would like to more about your polishing technique. Yes very impressive indeed.

-- Greg, Concordia, Mo

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 4009 days

#3 posted 01-11-2011 05:00 AM

Love that finish. In with Greg, like to hear details on rubbing compounds.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4092 days

#4 posted 01-11-2011 07:27 AM

Sweet finish. Details for me too :-))

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2720 days

#5 posted 01-11-2011 07:37 AM

Gorgeous color and liquid-y shine.. Just begging for fingerprints!

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3094 days

#6 posted 01-11-2011 03:11 PM

Beautiful – outstanding job!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2720 days

#7 posted 01-11-2011 09:39 PM

I’ve been using marine products on my wood finishes for years. They work well on paint or varnish such as polyurethane and probably on anything that has a fairly hard finish. The finish must be very dry, a couple of days old at least. If the finish is rough from dust particles or other contaminents I use pumice powders or wet sand paper up to 1000 grit before polishing. This make the shine disapear, not to worry, the rubbing compoud will bring it back fast, especially if you use a buffer. I often use elbow grease for better control. So any poly, varish, maybe shellac or good oil based paint or lacquers can look better and often result with a warm glow. I’ve polished tables than were varnished with a foam roller. I like a minimim of four coats with poly and three coats with paint. It’s a good way to remove paint brush marks and roller marks. The level of shine can be controlled if you can stop yourself.

The process:
The products I’ve used over the years has changed. The best product I have found to date is from Presta Products (Akron OH). Normally sold in auto detailling supply stores.
Step #1 Gelcoat Compound with yellow wool medium cutting pad part# 890142.
Step # 2 Ultra Cutting Cream with white wool cutting pad part # 890141.
Step # 3 Starbrite Premium Marine Polish with PTEF “non-stick coating” (West Marine stores).
These products are water-based. The pads are easily washed in the washing machine.
The final finish with Starbrite protect the poly from UV rays, waters spills. I took notice of Dan’s comment about finger prints. I tried to make some but I can’t seem to make any that I can see. I usually applied a coat once a year. This is a polish and not a wax. You can build it up if you wish.

A note about Minwax Wipe-On Poly
The mantle was the first time I used this product. I still don’t beleive how easy it is, and lately I’ve been thinking about selling all my spray equipment. I tried making my own wipe-on poly with diluted with 50% turpentine. Didn’t work for me and almost ruined the piece. The finish was so nice and so easy to apply I applied six coats. I used 0000 steel wool between each coat and before rubbing with the Gelcoat Compound.

I hope I have answered your questions. This is the second day of my membership and still don’t know all the ins and out of the site. I have no affiliations with Minwax, Presta Products or Starbrite.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 3096 days

#8 posted 01-11-2011 10:24 PM

Great follow up, thanks for taking the time to provide the great information!

Oh and the mantle looks good to (-:

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View rweitz's profile


116 posts in 3104 days

#9 posted 01-12-2011 07:03 AM

great info on the finish – that always seems to be a stress point for me. After all that work in the wood, I’m sure I’ve just ruined it with the first stain or finish coat.

-- You cannot build a reputation on what you are going to do. - Henry Ford

View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2720 days

#10 posted 01-12-2011 04:31 PM

Tks rweitz. I totally understand your frustrations with staining and finishing. I haven’t mastered staining as well as I would like. I make sure to keep the same board for the same doors and the same lot of wood for the entire project, but I still get large variations in colour. These days I feel like spending more money for the wood and forget staining. That’s what fine furniture makers seem to be doing.

Try Minwax Wipe-On finish and your finishing problems will be history. Use 100% lint-free cotton rags. I ran out of T-shirts, now I buy white rags by the bundle. Make a bun with other rags or cheeze cloth, wrap it with cling wrap before you wrap it with the cotton, hold the cotton with an elastic. I also use a deep pile roller cut in half (see pic above) and also wrap it with the cling wrap. Otherwise you will have to replace the roller each time.

Pour enough wipe-on to barely cover the bottom of in a clean pie plate. This stuff goes a long way. Dip the roller or bun just enough to get it wet and apply with a circular motion to make sure it covers evenly. This has to be done fairly quickly. The most important part is next. Wipe from end to end slowly without any pressure on the roller or the bun, not more than twice. This is hard to resist because its fun to do, but it will start drying on you if you over do it. Do the edges last. A second coat can be applied with three hours according to the instruction on the can, I wait until the next day. Three coats is usually enough. I don’t polish every time like I did on the mantle because the finish is gorgeous without polishing. I tend to polish the tops but never the rest of the piece. No more worries about dust, dirty brushes, or making a spray booth. Make sure you trow the wet wrags in a steel container to prevent against instantaneous combustion.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View thatlabguy's profile


87 posts in 2719 days

#11 posted 03-03-2011 11:37 PM

I absolutely love the look of your mantel. I am just starting to sand/finish about 60 Juniper fireplace mantels and was looking for some different ways to finish them…a finish that will withstand the heat from a fireplace. Thanks for the detailed info on your process. I plan to try it on some of the other Juniper and Mountain Mahogany pieces I am making.


View tyka's profile


142 posts in 2720 days

#12 posted 03-04-2011 01:00 AM

Larry… you are quite welcome. I’m glad this info can help. Feel free to send questions my way if you have some. BTW I just finished reading an article in the Fine Woodworking Mag. 218. You may want to pick this one up. Great info on other wipe-on poly and interesting tips for applying the finish and controlling the luster.

I the last three weeks designing and building a “combo drum sander”. Its going to be awesome. Check out my blog if your interested. Part 2 is coming soon :-) Cheers.

-- Paul, Plantagenet, Ontario

View woodklutz's profile


221 posts in 2795 days

#13 posted 12-20-2011 03:32 PM

Thank you for your instructions. Your mantle is exquisite.

-- honing my craft one mistake at a time.

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