Craftsman built-ins #8: Fireplace surround

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Blog entry by mountainaxe posted 12-16-2012 08:41 PM 2917 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Knee wall #2 Part 8 of Craftsman built-ins series Part 9: bookcases »

Back in to the breach! As we approach ever nearer to Christmas day, my wife has been insisting that I return to the shop posthaste and build a fireplace surround for an electric unit we purchased last month so she can hang the stockings, etc. I figured that this project shouldn’t be that difficult. The fireplace itself contained instructions as to the opening size required. I already knew that I wanted to build a comprehensive unit based on a 1907 Stickley built-in design that includes flanking bookcases. I’ll downsize a little: About 48” tall and 42” wide. This is the idea:

The enclosure is made with 3/4” hardwood plywood secured to a 2 by 4 pine frame. I half lap jointed the 2×4s for extra stability. The mantel top was also constructed with 3/4” harwood plywood, but took a little more attention to detail. Since it overhangs the enclosure by 5” I had to cut 45 degree miters on 6 sides to complete the box. I used both my table saw and RAS and it came together better than expected. I primed it with a couple coats of Zinsser BIN and this is the result:

I also purchased a pair of corbels on line as I knew this was something beyond my present band saw skill set. Pricey at $75, but well worth it, I think. I secured them to the unit via bolts:

I painted the corbels a little later. Next step was to prepare the house for installation. I removed a portion of the baseboard trim using a new tool my wife let me purchase…a Bosch corded oscillating saw. This tool works like a dream; it’s easy to use and incredibly precise in tight corners. See the results:

I once again enlisted the help of my neighbors teenage sons to carry the enclosure/matel from shop to house. It was very awkward and heavy due to the overhanging mantel top. I secured the unit to the wall studs and the insert fit like a glove. My wife spent no time decorating. Here’s the final result:

I’ll likely start on the bookcases after the holidays, but I really like the way this project is turning out!

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

2 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4869 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 03:00 PM

It did turn out well and a good write up also!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View mountainaxe's profile


166 posts in 3848 days

#2 posted 12-18-2012 10:00 PM

Thanks, Kindlingmaker…these built-ins have been a great confidence builder. They let me tackle large, integrated pieces quickly and are forgiving in that mistakes can be easily fixed. And since I’m painting, I don’t have to go crazy about wood types, matching grain, and finishing issues. Best part is that I’ve probably saved around $15K already in what it would have cost to have a finish carpenter/contractor built this set. That sure adds to my satisfaction level!

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

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