Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who's the Man...tel? (Part 2)

I know that the suspense has been killing everyone so here is part two of our mantel saga (“saga” might be a stretch but it’s a fun word to say).  With the mantel all assembled, it was time to mount it.  I didn’t want to have any visible brackets so it took a little creativity to hang this baby.  I started out by using my hammer drill to drill a few holes through the limestone ledge.  If you’ve never used a hammer drill, they are basically a cross between a jack hammer and a standard drill.  They are great for drilling through harder materials like stone or concrete because the hammer action helps to drive the bit in.  




Next, I used the holes that I drilled to attach a 2”x 4” to the ledge using  a few lag bolts. 




I was then able to set the mantel on top of the 2”x 4” and attach it with some 2 inch wood screws.  I made sure to countersink the holes so I could hide the screws with wood filler.  To minimize any strain on the top piece, I also used some L-brackets to secure the mantel on the bottom side.  


Next up was the staining.  We started out by putting up painters tape to keep the stain off the wall.  Ideally we would have stained the piece before we hung the mantel but the screw holes complicated things.  Wood filler is designed to be stained / painted so it made sense to fill the holes before the stain was applied; ergo the mantel needed to be hung before it was stained.    


One area that my grandpa and I disagree is staining.  He thinks that dark stains take away from the character of the wood, but to me, dark stains make the wood look even better.  Deanne and I like to use Minwax’s Special Walnut Oil-Based Stain.  It is on the darker side but still allows the grain to show through.  We applied it with a brush in nice even strokes, let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped off all of the excess stain.  Once the stain was dry, I sanded it with 220-grit sandpaper and we wiped the dust off with a rag dipped in mineral spirits.






Next up was the polyurethane.  Since we used an oil-based stain we needed to use an oil based poly.  I’m not a big fan of high gloss finishes so I always use Minwax’s matte finish.  Being the bargain shopper that I am, I snagged a dented can of it in the bargain-bin at Home Depot for $5.  










When using poly, you always stir the can.  Shaking will create air bubbles which will appear when the finish dries.  You also want to use a natural bristle brush and use long even brush strokes.  Once the first coat dries; sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe up the dust with a rag dipped in mineral spirits.  For the final coat (I only did 2 coats), I "wet sanded" using 600-grit sandpaper covered in lemon seed oil.  This method is described on the Minwax website.  




With the mantel all finished, it didn't take Deanne long to start decorating.  We still need to re-tile the hearth and paint the inside of the fireplace but we are really happy with how the mantel turned out! 



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