Modern Mantel Made Well
This cherry fireplace surround is assembled and installed with concealed fasteners
This six-page article (and its companion video), part of the Master Craftsman series, reveals one woodworker’s take on a classic project: a fireplace surround. Author Seb Eggert first discusses the origins of his design, which was based on a modernist version of the Arts and Crafts vocabulary. In particular, his mantel was designed to be modular to make fitting it easier to an uneven wall. Rather than assemble it in the shop and install the entire piece on-site, he had to make three main parts–the shelf, the frieze, and the legs—and install them on the wall around the fireplace. Measured drawings of the individual parts and how they relate to the whole piece anchor each spread. The first section of the article details his techniques for the clean joinery that’s necessary when working with clear-finished wood: sharp, accurate miters, continuous grain on returns, square reference lines. On site, it’s all about scribing the pieces to the irregular surfaces of the wall and using hidden fasteners for each component so that it looks as though the mantel is an organic part of the wall.