Midnight Woodworking


Erin’s Fireplace bar – day 9

Erin came over last night, so we started working on the caps for the corbels.

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She cut and planed a piece down to 1/2″ thick for the first of the three cap pieces.

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After cutting the 1/2″ pieces to size, she cut down 7/8″ thick blanks for the top two pieces.

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These will be stacked, so we made an effort to book match the end grains.

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The middle piece has a 3/4″ cove cut into it. I had originally intended to make it 1″ tall, but past 3/4″ the cove bits get a bit more expensive. Erin cut the cove on my router table, starting with a 1/4″ deep pass, then we incrementally moved the fence back 1/8″ at a time until we reached full depth. It is a big bit and a little scary when it takes too deep a bite. We learned this on a test piece that the router tried to remove from my hands…

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After each piece was cut and sanded, Erin applied glue, and I pin nailed the first piece in place.

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Next we applied glue to the second and third layers and used my 18 gauge nailer to hold them on.

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Once it was all assembled, we clamped every available surface to get a good, tight fit. The nails were mainly to prevent anything from slipping when it was all clamped up.

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Since I am not exactly sure how everything will fit in the final assembly. I am attaching the corbels with screws. If they eventually have to move, they can be unscrewed and relocated.

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After screwing the corbels into place, I fooled around with a test block, trying to come up with a shape for a piece of walnut, on the top of the plywood. This piece needs to have a mounting flange for screws to be driven, up from the bottom, into the mantle.

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We agreed on a shape, so I cut down a piece of walnut to 1-1/2″x2″x4′ long.

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It was a pretty piece with a lot of sap wood, that will allow a transition from the oak to the walnut to not be so drastic.

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I added a simple chamfer to the lower, front edge, to dress it up a bit.

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Next, I cut a notch, at each end, to go around the corbels.

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We pre-drilled and counter-sunk where the flange will be screwed into the plywood, as well as through the flange, where the mounting screws will attach to the mantle.

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A little glue and a few 2-1/2″ wood screws later, and we had a top mounting flange.

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Looks pretty good, but it was 1:00am when I finished up with it, so I knocked off and went to bed.

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In the morning, I packed everything up and headed to Erin’s house for the final fit check.

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My foam plug nearly did what I wanted. It definitely expanded to fill most of the chimney, but the bag shape didn’t allow the spread to travel completely into all corners. We will add a bit more later if we think it is needed.

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I proceeded to gently remove the existing 100-year old façade, hoping to not disturb any of the drywall that was surrounding it.

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When we pulled off the mantle, a things fell out, that had slid behind the mantle a long time ago. One was part of a pack of needles, for an old singer sewing machine, and the other two items were post cards affixed with 1 cent stamps from around 1912. Kind of cool to find a little time capsule accidentally tucked away like that. The post cards were over 100 years old.

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After that bit of excitement and a lot of cleanup I tried installing the bar.

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As I suspected, my flanges were preventing the bar from being fully inserted into the fireplace.

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I pulled them off and used a clamp and my pocket hole jig to add pocket holes directly to the cabinet itself.

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After attaching a few screws, the whole thing slid right into place.

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The new mantle is a bit thicker than the previous one, so I slid the mantle into place and marked its location onto the wall.

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After removing the mantle, I used a utility knife to remove about 1/4″ of the drywall, and I squared off the ends as well.

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The mantle slid tightly into place. You may wonder why I bothered, as opposed to butting it up against the wall. Mainly because of the post cards. The fireplace wall is not perfectly flat, so there was a gap at the center about 1/8″ deep. I didn’t want anything sliding back there, so simply removing a bit of drywall will allow me to press the mantle back a bit further. After the finish has been applied, it will be easy to apply a small amount of caulk, all the way around, filling the gaps.

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I knew the new bar would fit, but I mainly needed to install it now, to determine the final dimensions for the columns and the plinth blocks. It looks like I need to lose about 1-1/2″ from one or both of them to get the columns to fit.

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I pulled everything out and disassembled it to take back to my shop. We only need a few more details to finish up. I left Erin and Diana the fun job of cleaning up the large mess that I made…

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