Introduction: Secret Mantle Compartment

I wanted to make a mantle for my new gas fireplace. I searched pictures of mantles until I found something I liked and adapted the look to the size I needed. I am a computer artist and graphic designer so almost all of my plans are worked out in Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately the photos of the build process have been lost but I'll explain the harder parts of the build using illustrations.

Step 1: Plywood Body and Crown Molding

The body and legs of the Mantle are just a plywood frames. The curved bottom side is done by making Kerf cuts most of the way through the piece so that it is flexible. The side corners are cut at a 45 degree angle to hide the edge but the bottom is just a square cut butt up to the front piece. I used wood filler to hide the edge here and after painting it is almost invisible. Crown Molding was added around the top to finish this part.

Step 2: Mantle Legs

I made the front of the legs using a poplar wood frame with a rabbit cut to insert half inch plywood panel. the decorative corners are made from 1\8 inch plywood pie shapes glued into the corner. The left leg is glued and nailed together with base molding added for detail. The right leg has the front connected with hidden hidges and a clasp to create the compartment. I initially intended this to only be access to the gas valve but has come in quite handy as a safe place to hide things.

Step 3: All in the Details

I wanted a half round molding on the mantle but for the life of me couldn't figure out how to bend it around the curve. The answer came to me by chance. I decided to cut the molding in half and nail & glue them independent from each other. quarter round is a lot easier to bend than half round. After the glue dried I trimmed the edge to join with the straight part over the legs then filled and sanded to hide the seems. This was actually an easy project to make with standard power tools. A table saw came in handy for the molding cut but the rest can be done with a skill saw and jigsaw. I used a miter saw for the crown molding and brad nailer, screws and glue to attach everything.

Secret Compartment Challenge

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