Reworking an old fireplace mantle

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 03-22-2011 12:24 AM 1389 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3262 days

03-22-2011 12:24 AM

My sister just bought an older house that has four fireplaces. She took off all the mantles and asked me to “fix them up” so they look a little better. They are about 6’ long, 4-5” tall, and maybe a foot deep. The side that was against the wall is relatively flat and the front edge isn’t quite what I would call natural, but it’s definitely not flat in any sense of the word. She wants me to cut that edge off so they’re flat on all sides, then sand them a bit to clean them up and maybe rout a profile on it.

So, first question is how to cut off the rough edge. I could joint the back edge and put it against my table saw rip fence, but the blade isn’t tall enough to cut all the way through, so i’d have to cut one side, flip the piece end for end and then cut the other side. Is this dangerous? I wanted to get some feedback before I tried this, as there would be an awful lot of blade making a “trapped” cut.

The other possibility I thought of would be to clamp a plywood fence on my bandsaw, but I’m not really set up for a workpiece that large (length or thickness wise).

Once I figure out how to get the pieces squared up, I’m not really sure what kind of profile I should put on it. I could do a roundover or something similar, but not sure how a 1/2” roundover would look on a piece of wood that’s 4” tall. Any recommendations?

5 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3121 days

#1 posted 03-22-2011 04:00 PM

So I assume these are solid beams. Softwood? Knots and defects? How will they be finished? How are they attached?

As for your questions (now that I’ve asked more than my share!), cutting one way and flipping is not dangerous to me. I’m assuming you’re putting the mantel to the fence. Set the blade to cut just over half, cut and flip, and flip and the cutoff piece will remain on the table just as in a typical cut.

There might be some embellishments that you could add that would enhance the look, subject to her taste of course.

As for router detail, most anything you do will be dwarfed by the size of these dudes, so I wouldn’t obsess over the cut. Simpler is always better.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3262 days

#2 posted 03-22-2011 05:32 PM

Yep, solid wood. I’m actually not sure what species it is. I’ll see if I can snap a photo or two to post in order to see if anyone can identify it. There are a few knots, but not too bad. Your assumption about my cutting method is correct.

View drewnahant's profile


222 posts in 3360 days

#3 posted 03-22-2011 05:45 PM

if you are considering jointing the back, I assume the front would fit through your jointer. if it is anywhere close to flat, you should get good results that way, just no guarantee it will be paralell to the back unless it already is close. if you need to take off substantial material, the table saw is a good option, just be careful doing the blind cut, and you will probably have some blade burn to sand out.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3262 days

#4 posted 03-22-2011 06:00 PM

I see what you’re saying about jointing the front edge, but I guess I forgot to mention in my original post that the front is nowhere near flat, to the point where i’d have to take off a good 2” of so to get it flat, which would mean I’d be at the jointed all day. That’s why I was leaning toward the table saw method.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3262 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 10:11 PM

Just wanted to post a follow up on this. I ended up using the table saw. Ran it through once, flipped it over and finished the cut on the other side. Worked great. I did have to sand it a bit, but not a big deal.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics