Wood Beam Fireplace Mantel





Introduction: Wood Beam Fireplace Mantel

Build your own wood beam mantel for just $35 of lumber. If you have some wood stains lying around that may be all you spend!



  • table saw or circular saw to cut 45 degree miter angles along the long edges.
  • chop saw or a miter box and handsaw to make the shorter cross cuts
  • various distressing tools - get creative!
    • chisel
    • something stabby
    • chain
    • box knife
  • finish nail gun

Step 1: Cuts

The 1x10's will act as the top and bottom of your mantel.

  • Cut both 1x10's to your preferred mantel length using a 45 degree miter on both short ends and one long end. All miter slopes should start from the same face (see pic)

The longer 1x8 will be the front and the extra length will also account for the side end caps.

  • Cut the miter angles out of both long ends of the 1x8 face board
  • Cut off the sides of the mantel from the extra length of the face board. They should match the depth of the 1x10s
  • Finish up by cutting your face plate down to size with miters. This is the only piece that will have all 4 sides mitered.

Step 2: Distress

This is the part that I enjoy most. I still experiment every time I build something so don't be afraid to try new things.

A couple of methods I used are:

  • worm holes
  • gouges
  • screw scratches
  • cracks/splits

But you can use a hammer claw, chain, wire brush, or anything you dream up. Check out the notes on the pictures for more details.

Step 3: Stain

Follow the instructions on the can. Wipe on. Wipe off Daniel san.

I forgot to take a picture here. It's important to note that with these cheap soft woods, the grain can take stain differently leaving you with a zebra striped project. You really need to pre-condition the wood with a damp cloth wipe or use the linked wood conditioner to open up the wood to accept stain more uniformly.

Step 4: Nail It Together

I used a finish nailer with 18ga 1.25" nails. Make a 5 sided box.

Step 5: Edge Distressing

So far we have a beat up box. It looks pretty good, but it's not fooling anyone. Carve out random patterns off the edges. It brings all the plates together and makes it look more like a solid beam.

Sand, fill with wood putty, re-stain.

Step 6: Mounting

If you have a pre-existing wood mantel like I did, just nail it in and you're done!

At our last house, I had to secure a 2x6 mounting board to the fireplace. Picture attached to give you an idea.



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20 Discussions

I looked at the first picture and thought: Wow, it is a solid heavy piece of lumber, and then the first words I read in the comments were:

"Please be careful when installing a wooden mantle." my first thought was if that thing fell on your foot then waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!

then I started reading the instructible and it is hollow. fooled me. very good job..

PLEASE be careful when installing a wooden mantle. I checked the regulations before I installed mine and found that two factors are checked by the inspectors. The width of the mantle and the height above the fire place. I installed a granite one instead. Each state seems to have their own regulations. I note that when I have an extended fire, by mantle gets very hot. You can get mantle guards, but they look ugly.

I asked the fire inspector (I had installed a new fire insert and chimney lining, so I had to have an inspection), and he confirmed that if it was wooden he would have measured and checked a table which gave him the ratios and limits.

It may be that you will not have your new mantle inspected, but if it is out of code and you have fire damage, it may put your insurance at risk. Stick to the numbers and you'll be OK.

1 reply

No worries Gromanski. We looked it up and the existing wood mantel had plenty of room to spare.

Also, be wary of applying a polyurethane finish after your stain. I got mixed messages on the interwebs, so best to avoid it and be safe.

Another neat option for distressing is to sand blast the piece. It chews up the soft bits and leaves a nice looking raised grain. Like it was sitting in a windy desert for some years.

1 reply

That sounds really cool. Yet another tool to add to my wish list.

It would be cool to build in hooks that folded out to hang stockings

Nice work! Special thanks for info on fire safety.

i did a similar mantle piece about 30 years ago and it's still in place going strong :) I just happened to have a piece of floor joist left over from some work that was done on our house. I cut it to length and then I built a big bonfire. I placed the joist on the outside of the lit bonfire and let it char turning it evenly on all sides. Once it was blackened I removed it and let it cool. I then got to work with a sharp axe and took a few notches out along its length. Next step I got some 60 grade oxide paper/sandpaper (it's that long ago I'm not sure what the abrasive paper actually was that I used other than it being 60 grit). I smoothed the notches over and gently went over the burned parts to give a varying shade effect. I found this far easier and much more pleasing than trying to stain it. After this it was washed down with white spirit to remove any grease and dust then left to dry after which I applied about 3 or 4 coats of exterior quality polyurethane varnish. That finish has lasted all these years and looks very good, to me at least :)

This came out really well! It looks gorgeous :)

1 reply

Nice. I really like the way you distressed it; it adds quite a bit of character.

1 reply

Thanks! I watched some YouTube videos for the ideas.

Here in the UK I did mine with a new wooden railway sleeper for £12

1 reply

Looks pretty real! No end grain though, but that's probably hard to fake. Maybe with a slice from a real beam.

1 reply

Interesting thought. They make small veneer sheets for this type of project but not in that pattern. I have no idea how you would fake that.

Love! You should post a picture of the mantel before.

a good looking mantle!