Building your own fireplace mantel is no simple task, so do not attempt it if you do not have a fair amount of carpentry experience. If you do decide to undertake the task, some tools that you will need include: miter saw, nailer, sandpaper, nail set, hammer, cordless drill and driver, and a paintbrush. You will need some materials as well such as: 1' stock, moldings, wood putty, heavy screws, and stain or paint.
In order to construct a mantel that is built out from the wall, you need to first nail the pieces of 1' stock to the wall above your fireplace using your heavy screws. If you drive the screws into a place that will be covered up by your decorative molding, then you will not have to fill the holes later. With your surround secure, you can now build up your molding. As you build your molding stack, remember that placing your nails in locations that will be obscured will save you work in the long run.
Remember if you have never built a fireplace mantle before, that it is a good idea to buy extra material. After all, some mistakes will be inevitable as you first start out, and having extra material on hand will really help to save you time. You may even want to practice the cuts on your extra material beforehand. Your first time building a fireplace mantle may seem tedious, but it is better to take your time and end up with a mantel that you can be proud of.
Once you have finished your surround, fill whatever nails holes may be visible. You can now apply the finish. Whether you decide to use paint or stain, make sure that you do not try to keep costs low in this department; buy something that is of a high quality. The reason for this is that fireplace heat will strip away a product that is not made to handle it. It can be hard on the wood as well, and a quality finish will help to protect it.
Depending on how much experience with carpentry you have, you may be able to get a little creative. There are many ways that you can personalize your new mantel so that it is your own creation. Mantels may feature ornate designs, carvings, and moldings that are very attractive. Remember that the more personalized your mantle becomes, the more it will accentuate your home.