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Making a Mantelpiece | Part 1

by - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Well good afternoon there! As you may have noticed from my blogging absence things have been rather busy this last week! The first time I sat down all weekend was late on Sunday afternoon, so with that and the darker mornings now I've been pretty tired the last few days.

Ok, so it was busy, but our weekend was wonderful, and I hope yours was too. We started off with a delicious family meal at my parents on Friday night, followed by (a lot of) ambling round town Saturday doing shopping and chores, then woodwork, Sunday lunch and conker foraging on Sunday. One of my favourite parts of the weekend was flopping on the sofa with a cup of tea, smiling at a big bag of shiny little conkers, our cheeks still flushed from the autumn air. Lovely!

So today, I bring you part one of my Sunday morning's work: Making a mantelpiece.

We've got a big, red brick fireplace in the lounge, but unfortunately, no surround, no hearth and no mantelpiece. I think there was one there a long time ago, along with a log burner, but these have since been removed. To be perfectly honest, the bricks that are there don't exactly win first place in the aesthetics race, as they're not built to be exposed. But, with how chilly our house gets and the cosy atmosphere that open bricks provide, we've come to like them as they are.

Apart from the lack of a surround. Or a hearth. Or a mantelpiece.

I've always wanted a shelf over the fireplace to decorate for the seasons; pastels for Easter, pumpkins for Halloween and presents for Christmas. Throw in some candles, fairy lights and bunting and you've made your way inside my head. Welcome!

As we don't own the house (yada, yada) we decided that the best solution to sprucing up the fireplace on the cheap would be to put up a shelf. And naturally, I decided to make one myself, rather than buy one. So, on Sunday morning I took my plank of pine over to my parents' house and Dad and I got to work in the shed.

To make my standard plank of wood a little prettier, we had decided to route the edges. We'd already planned out exactly what shape and what router bit to use after dinner on Friday night. It is my belief that this head is called a Beading bit... I believe. Please do correct me if I'm wrong!

Whatever it is called, it creates a rounded edge, and gives you the option of adding a lip in the wood too. You'll see what I mean soon...

We used scrap bits of wood to clamp it still, so as not to dent the shelf. Dad did most of the routing as I've never done it before. He did teach me though, and after being terrified of the thing before even switching it on, I just about felt confident enough to have a little go...

It was great fun, but I found it pretty hard to see what I was doing, particularly, if I was doing anything at all! Dad's a pro with it however so we got a flawless finish on the shelf, and he even covered up my little wobbly bits too.

He then gave it a quick sand with his super disc-sander to smooth any rough bits left by the router and the clamps. It doesn't show very well here (remember this is only part one!) but you can just about make out the lip in the front, then the curved edge.

This is as far as we got due to golfing and lunching commitments, so I'll be staining it this weekend and (hopefully) putting it up too. Will keep you posted, of course.

See you back here soon!

UPDATE: For Part 2 of Making a Mantelpiece, click here!

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