When I left off on the fireplace project in this post, we had a pretty much complete white shiplap fireplace. This blank slate was desperate for a rustic wood mantel.
Unfortunately, old wood is not so easy to find where I live. My brother, the Kijiji master, managed to snag what he thought were two 8 x 8 beams, about 10 ft long each in Thunder Bay. When he made the trek out to pick them up, he discovered they were actually 6 x 6 (but rough cut, so legitimately 6″) and twenty feet long!
He loaded them up and took them both from the guy (they were free after all and the guy wanted them gone) but one was so rotten he ended up tossing it. The other one had some bad spots, and it was twenty feet long and wouldn’t be easy to get the four hours home to Sioux Lookout, so he got a handsaw (he doesn’t have any power tools in his apartment in Thunder Bay, obviously) and sawed off about half the length.
This left me with about 8 to 10 feet to work with. I actually prefer the rough cut 6″ width, I think 8″ would have been too much and may have needed some planing down. Unfortunately my camera was dead so I didn’t take many pictures of the original beam, but I do have a nice iPhone picture of Max sawing it down to 44.75″- I just let him know which part of the beam I wanted to use and he turned it on his mitre saw and cut through four times.
Remember when all my pictures were terrible quality?
Once he had it cut down for me I sanded the bejesus out of it, using my mouse palm sander (aka my mom’s mouse that I stole, but whatever).
I made sure to pay extra attention to the corners and edges so I could really get that worn look – though the wood was already pretty beautiful and worn anyway. I sanded until I couldn’t feel my hands anymore and then started beating up the beam and testing stain.
I have beaten up a lot of wood at this point and my process is nothing special, I just swing away with hammers and crowbars to make dents and divots, making sure the edges get a lot of attention.
In my mind I knew I wanted a medium brown stain, and I had thought of using Minwax Provencial, which I assumed I had.
Since it was Good Friday and all the stores were closed, I thought I would try my hand at mixing up a medium brown using what I had. It did not go well. Above, is my mess. Oops.
I don’t think I could recreate it if I tried, but I ended up using a mixture of Ipswich Pine and Special Walnut, both by Minwax, and then sanding it down a bit to cut out the orange that was coming up and soften the brown a bit, and then dry brushing some Special Walnut on top to finish.
It was scary and took much to long but it worked out.
Since the ends were fresh cut I knew they would soak up the stain much darker, so to make sure it went on even I used the sander that had been used to sand off some of the stain on the edges to lightly transfer the colour, if that makes sense.
I was pretty pleased with myself for that one because I had been really worried about these ends.
All the while I made sure the beam would match the tone of the flooring and wasn’t pulling too orange.
I finished with two light coats of satin Polyurethane and let it dry overnight.
Then I had Max bring it inside so we could install it. We actually put it up on the ledge to make sure it would work and given the short hangover it was almost fully supported. I decided some glue would be the best way to attach it.
We picked up some of this 4000 glue that is especially good at bonding wood to wood. I had used some similar heavy duty glue on my firepit on the concrete blocks, and that thing is SOLID. I knew it would work here too.
I applied the glue to the ledge, making sure to get a lot of coverage but not go to close to the edge so that it wouldn’t ooze out of the sides and make a mess. I made sure to do this myself because I lost all trust of Max with a caulk gun after he did the silicone in the kitchen.
We just pressed it into place and then added some big wrenches as weight on top.
And now, I can finally call it DONE.
I added some little décor pieces up there for now, but I really want some fat candlesticks for the mantel. I am most excited to decorate this for Christmas, it will be very exciting to have a real fireplace to hang our stockings!
Let me know if you have any questions.
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