Friday, November 2, 2012

Finishing the Fireplace, Part 2

When last I chatted about the fireplace, I was all in a tizzy over having my mantel materials.

Putting together the surround was easy. I’m no woodworker, so I was careful to do one step at a time, and take measurements carefully before each new cut. First, I measured the height for the fluted MDF molding that would form the 2 sides of the surround. I cut them to length with our miter saw, then used Loctite PowerGrab Molding adhesive on each piece.

Power Grab molding adhesive

mantle surround in progress

I tried just using painters tape to hold the molding in piece, but it wasn’t quite happening. So I crossed my fingers and got out my 18 gauge pneumatic nailer and little air compressor to see if they’d penetrate the concrete backerboard that’s behind the molding, and it worked! Just a couple of nails in the top, middle, and bottom held the board in place while the glue dried.

mantle surround in progress

Then I measured the final finished width of everything before cutting my 1”x8” board for across the top.

mantle surround in progress

After rave reviews of Zinsser’s Smart Prime from Young House Love, I went to a local Benjamin Moore dealer to pick up a gallon. (It wasn’t available at Menards or Lowe’s.)

Zinsser Smart Prime

I got it because while I love the great fast-drying and stain-blocking properties of all Zinsser primers, this one is supposed to be self-leveling/smoothing, so you’ll see less brush strokes/roller marks. So far, I must say I’m extremely pleased, but I’ve been using it on raw wood. I’ll keep you updated as I use it on other projects around the house.

mantle surround in progress

After priming the top piece, I wanted to let it dry for 24 hours. Although you can topcoat the Smart Prime in a hour, the can says to let it dry longer for better stain and tannin blocking. I don’t often see tannin from pine bleed through, but I have before and wanted to take the extra precaution so I wouldn’t have to repaint this project later.

So I got to work building the mantel. My plan was to use the 1”x4” as the bottom of the mantel, cover it with the crown molding, that would then hold up the 1”x8” shelf. Simple enough, except that I have never worked with crown molding before.

To miter the outside corners of the crown molding, I Googled around and read what I could, then I kept this eHow video up, as well as this reference page from DeWalt tools to guide me along. Truthfully, though, it was  lot of trial and error. And really, I have no idea how I ended up successfully getting my corners to (pretty-much) match up, so I can’t give you tips. But it worked, and with a little bit (or a lotta bit) of caulk, they’re looking pretty good.

I didn’t really know how to photograph this, so here’s what I got. This is the 1”x4” inside the crown molding. (I used wood glue and 18 ga nails to hold it together.)

mantle shelf in progress

And here’s the outside, where you can see the 1”x4” is hidden.

mantle shelf in progress

Next, I began the tedious process of caulking up all my not-quite-matching joints. I ended up doing about 3 layers of caulk and a little wood filler. I’m normally not that worried about the details that no one will notice, but because this is the mantel and I want people to believe that it’s a fine bit of woodworking, I took the time to really cover my mistakes. :)

Stay tuned for more!

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