Time had come to begin construction on the mantle. I didn’t have access to a solid Alder beam, let alone a solid Alder beam that was 6″ by 4″ by 60″, so I did the next best thing, I faked it. I didn’t fake it to the customers, just the viewers. I constructed the mantle in such a way as to hide any unsightly end grain by mitering all of the edges. The pieces you see below are the top, face, and bottom, laid out in that order.
I glued the joints and nailed everything together with 16 gauge nails. I used nails to connect everything, rather than skipping the nails and just using clamps, because the mantle is going to be distressed and have a glazed stain finish, so nailing everything together not only made this step much easier and go faster, but the nail holes also add to the distressed look. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone…is that considered a politically incorrect statement?
With the entire mantle constructed, sanded, and distressed using an awl, chisel, and flat-head screwdriver, I sprayed on a coat of pre-catalyzed lacquer before I did anything else.
Before we go on I think a few clarifying descriptions are needed:
Glaze: Stain concentrate. Fairly thick, like syrup.
Stain: Stain concentrate mixed with a solvent, usually mineral spirits.
Usually a piece is stained and then sealed with lacquer, but I am using a glaze rather than a stain on all of the Alder in this project, so I needed to spray on a coat of lacquer to seal up the pores in the wood in order to prevent to much absorption of the glaze. By sealing the wood first, the glaze only slightly darkened the surface, yet made every dent and ding super dark, achieving the exact look that we wanted.
Observe the difference between the distressed marks and the solid surface. Also notice how the edges are randomly sanded and knocked down, mimicking years of wear and abuse.
Once the glaze had a chance to dry I sprayed on two more protective coats of lacquer, and this mantle was ready for the fireplace.
Here is what the mantle looked like when I arrived…
…and here is what it looked like when I left!
More to come soon!