How to Make a Faux Mantel

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How to make a faux mantel for beginning woodworkers.  If you’ve dreamed of your perfect mantel…read on!

How to build a faux mantel

I’ve made several mantels in a past job building shabby furniture on the central coast.  Wish I would have taken more pictures.  The few I did take I used a disposable camera!  Remember when shabby chic was all the rage?  It’s still popular, but junky, rusty, and farmhouse styles have taken over a bit.  Most of the mantels were covered in shabby scrolls with just a right amount of distressed.

My scrap wood mantelThis is the only mantel in our home that I’ve made right now.  Unusual, I know!  But I love it!

I will use this photo to help explain an easy way to build a faux mantel.  As I’m been developing this post I realized one will now do.  I plan a series of posts for the next three Thursdays.

Today is the basics.

A faux mantel is basically a shelf with legs.

A couple of things I always feel a faux mantel must have…

A base!

On our mantel, the base is a piece of wood laying on the floor. The fireplace sits on top and is screwed into the wall. The base could be tiles, bricks or rock.

Inclosed firebox!

Have you ever seen a faux mantel with the baseboard showing? I like to close up the firebox with a piece of plywood painted black or use chalkboard paint. A bit more realistic don’t you think.

A strip of wood from top to baseboard!

baseboard piece
Placing a mantel against the baseboard leaves a gap. You can cut and removed it, but if you rent…well that doesn’t work. Landlords get testy when you cut up the baseboards. A strip of wood the thickness of the baseboard fixes that problem. If you’re good with a router you can match the end to fit the baseboard profile.

Measuring for your faux mantel

Measurements for faux mantel #fauxmantel #diy #mantel

First, decide how big you want the mantel. How tall, wide and the size of the firebox. Do you have something special to put in the firebox like the heater I found? When I first drew out my plans for this mantel the firebox was going to be larger. When I found the heater, I wanted it to fit inside.

Another measurement that’s important is how far do you want the mantel to come out from the wall.
Box shapes for make mantel #fauxmantel #diy #mantel

The simplest way to make a fireplace I’ve found is to build basic shallow boxes. Above is my rough computer drawing of shallow boxes with the top and two legs. At this point, I bolt the legs to the top. Usually, the top comes out from the wall more than the legs. So the top box sides would be 4-inch wide wood and the legs 3 inches wide. {for example}

At this point, I would add a wood top and start added trims and decorative scrolls.

Shallow boxes

chalkboard paint on mantel #fauxmantel #diy #mantel

Then nail the board or plywood to the legs and top enclosing the firebox area.

firebox insert #fauxmantel #diy #mantel

On my mantel above I wanted another depth to the firebox to make it fit the heater. Those are more shallow boxes from the back.

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I hope you follow along and let’s build a faux mantel!

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  1. Martha Fann says:

    I have a junk/repurpose shop and I get so many “treasures” that would look so great on a mantel. I have lots of bits, pieces and parts that I could use. I also have a bucket of spindles of all shapes and sizes that would be perfect used this way. this will really be for just display purposes but I would expect people will want to buy it……..a good problem to have I guess!
    Thanks for your detailed instructions and pictures.

    1. Hey, Martha, In my past I made things to sell in shops like yours! It was a blast. I made many mantels to sell and they do sell well. Thanks for your comment. Hugs! ~ Jeanette

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