How to Build a Fireplace Part 2: Moldings, Faux Flue, Paint

For this second phase, I need a mantlepiece and moldings. As a reminder, we are trying to reuse materials that we have around instead of buying all of these things new; partially because we don’t have the money at the moment and partially because we can reuse the wood. I have a table that I used for a lathe in the garage and another outdoor picnic table I built years ago that I am milling and reusing the wood from. So far, we have only spent money on the 3/16″ plywood that we used for the outer shell.  I think it’s been about 30-40 dollars so far.




I used the second of the two old tables I am breaking down for this to make the mantlepiece.  I joined three boards together with biscuits and wood glue, then smoothed it over with a belt sander, then an orbital sander.  It looks fairly decent so far!





Believe it or not, I also had these old crown molding pieces hanging out in my Halloween stack and waiting to be used for something.  If you have looked at our Halloween posts, these moldings were once part of the Port Plunder pirate ship we did in 2014. The moldings were given to my mother-in-law by a friend, sat in her yard through weather for a few years, then she gave them to me for the pirate ship. After sitting in weather for a Halloween season, they had all been exposed to even more weather since the pirate ship until now (about 2 years more). These are made from alder wood, and they are still perfect for this application! By the way, if I hadn’t had these moldings, I would have milled some sticks from one of the two tables and routed a molding myself instead of purchasing them.




I cut 2 1/4″ slices from my wood stock, sanded them lightly for snags, and installed the molding on the side posts. I am ready for tile!





My wife got this great grey herringbone tile on sale for Black Friday.  I think we paid about $5/square foot for it, and we got about 10 square feet of it, plus some grout.  I am using some leftover mastic (thin set mortar alternative) from our bathroom wall to attach the tiles to the backer board.  All told, I believe we’re about $75 dollars in on the fireplace tile.





The tile is now set and ready for grout.




I pushed the insert back in to check out the progress thus far.  Tera loves it, and so do I!





I am going to glue these strips together for the door to our “secret” shelf, which will hold a DVD player and controllers, etc.




I laminated the door, so it has the glued strips on the back side, then the same 3/16″ plywood, then the same molding strips. It looks great! I found some old hinges in the garage that were on a box that held routing bits.  They were perfect, and we saved more money on that too!




It’s a bit hard to see any difference here, but the tile has grout now and it is a great improvement.




We primed the fireplace tonight, which went much faster that I had expected.  I think it took Tera and I about 30-45 minutes to get it taped off, cut in, and primed and ready for paint.




The “flue” area, where we will hang our TV, will have a cut out where the mount will connect to the wall, and we will be able to route our cords behind that and through the small hole I cut in the top of the mantle board. I cut out the existing crown molding on the wall and placed the first two studs in for the flue wall.




Now both sides have been boxed in.




Tera used the right column to test out some paint colors that she likes, and I worked on fully enclosing the flue wall tonight. The horizontal studs are in place for the boards we’ll will be adding, so I had to use the measurement of the boards (5 1/2″) plus the spacing we wanted between them (3/16″) to find the center point for each of them. Pretty simple stuff, but you have to get this part right so you’ll have something to nail into for each board.




Here’s another angle of the same thing.




Using scraps from the same 3/16″ boards we purchased to cover the columns, I cut 5 1/2″ strips out with my table saw and started tacking them up tonight with my finish nail gun. Here it is about halfway done.



img_0062The front and sides are fully enclosed now.




Here’s another angle of the same thing.  Bad news though, the wife decided that she wanted the access hole for the TV a little lower.  I am going to move the box down one plank, which means I have to re-place two of the studs in the wall. This should be fairly easy, but it is a slight setback.




In this photo (now primed also), there are two planks above the access hole and four planks below it.




In this photo (now painted to match), there are three planks above the access hole and three planks below it.  I have to admit, which is standard practice at this point, that the wife was wholly correct about moving the box down.  All I did to get it moved down was to cut out the top and bottom studs behind the planks, used a Kreg jig to pocket-hole them back into place, and traded the bottom plank for the two smaller planks that used to be on top.  No new materials needed.

Please see our next blog post (coming this week) for the finishing touches and the final HD photos of our *exceptionally* cheap new fireplace!


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