After seeing the job I did on my kitchen, some friends asked if I could make
a cherry mantle for their gas fireplace. They live in a rather modern condo,
and just want something incredibly simple, ie. a nice hunk o' cherry, approx
4 x 5 x 48 or so. No detailing, no surround, just a nice smooth piece of
I'll probably French cleat it to the wall, but I'm thinking a solid chuck of
cherry that big is just too heavy and a bit of a waste of wood. Problem is,
every way I try to visualize a hollow box, I just see to many visible
joints, which if well done would look nice to me, but I don't think that's
what they have in mind.
Does anything spring to mind?
IIRC, and just this past weekend I saw a book by Jim Tolpin on built-in
furniture that had pictures and a section that included mantle ideas/plans
for what you are describing. (Here's a DAGS):
Might want to check your library or local Borders/Barnes and Nobles and just
take a look through the book.
... may be worth checking out.
Resaw and them make a torsion box -- w/ nearly perfect matching grain,
glue joints would essentially disappear...
If you want to keep the illusion complete, use endgrain sections for the
end pieces too...
I recently did a similar mantle using hickory.
The mantle was hollow, as you describe, and was assembled using what we used to call "tape joints".
The mantle consists of 5 pieces: top, bottom, front, and sides. Every exposed edge has a miter joint - 8 joints in all. The pieces are then assembled flat, face up, with heavy clear shipping tape: each joint is first positioned with tape pieces across the joint, then with one long piece along the joint. After testing the fit & making any neccessary adjustments, the taped pieces are layed on the bench face down, glue is applied in the miters, then the whole thing is folded together and taped into position until the glue dries. Voila - a hollow beam with no visible joinery.
If you cut a nailer that is a snug fit ino the back of your hollow mantle beam, you can then attach the nailer to the wall, slide your mantle onto the nailer, tack it into place with a couple of brads, fill the brad holes with wax filler stick. - Very easy installation.
I've done a few for a contractor friend lately. Simply two slabs of
cherry and a slab of maple. cherry top and bottom maple in the middle
with a 1" offset for detail. i make the maple piece 2" shorter and 1"
narrower then rip 2 inches out of the back on the bandsaw leaving the
ends at full width. the 2" ripout is mounted to the wall and the
mantle slides over it to give the illusion of a floating mantle. a
couple of trim screws up through the bottom are used to keep it from
being pulled off the wall. you may also glue it but then you wont be
able to take it down if the need arrises. i use lags to attach the
if you don't think you can hide the joints, display them.
how about making the whole thing with bent laminations? does their
home feature any curves- if so steal the detail and lay up a hollow
box with alternating layers of say cherry and walnut.
'course, the whole job just got a bunch more complicated....
Wed, Dec 5, 2007, 12:56pm firstname.lastname@example.org (bob) doth wondereth:
<snip> Does anything spring to mind?
Cherry plywood, make a box. Cheery veneer, on a plywood box.
Cherry stain on poplar or pine. Tell them to get someone else to do it.
I used a piece of 2X12 pine, stained with I don't know what. Still
looking good, 20 some years later.
Even Popeye didn't eat his spinach until he had to.
Like others said just build boxes boards with bevel ripped edges.
After the glue up is finished. You can burnish the long mating edges
wih the side of a large screwdriver shaft to close any minute gap
along the corner seams and then sand them back to a sharp edge and you
won't see any gap at all. I built a mission bed with 4" posts. I
capped them with 1/2 thick pieces and chamfered the caps at 1/2 x 1/2
and burnished those edges also. Even the fellow woodworker client
thought they were solid posts while handling the finished headboard
and couldn't detect the seams even looking closely after I clued him
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