Floating shelves and box mantles are a popular item that I am asked to build for customers. Many newer homes have existing drywall alcoves with no shelving, and an inexpensive, or no mantel at all, above the fireplace. Box mantels and floating shelves can dress up a space, add real estate, and they can be finished however one chooses. I have finished them in both paint and stain. The build I will be discussing in this article is a stain grade build, and was coated with a custom stain color and a multiple application finish. I will go over the entire process from choosing the right material, thru finishing and install. Be sure to reference the pictures as you read along.
Material Selection and Tools.
A great product always starts with great material. It’s very difficult to make something nice out of material that is warped, bowed or defected in some other way. With the exception of reclaimed projects, which I will usually approach differently, I always go to my local lumber store and hand pick the pieces of lumber I will be using to build my project. For this project the customer had requested Pine, and I decided to go with #2 Pine over Select, because I didn’t feel it was a nicer enough product to justify spending the extra money. I was able to find very straight, nice 8′ lengths of #2 Pine at my local lumber store, and this was a great start to the box mantel and floating shelf project! For this build, I didn’t need much other than the lumber itself, as I have wood biscuits, glue, and pocket screws already stocked in the appropriate sizes and selections at the shop.
Tools, Processes & Systems
Once the material is back at the shop, it’s finally time to start building, my favorite part. I previously sketched out the box mantel and floating shelves, creating a cut list with labeled part numbers and exact dimensions (see picture above) This drawing is an important part of my building process, as it allow me to focus on systems and quality while I’m building, instead of design and material take off.
For this build the main tools being used are the table saw, miter saw, biscuit jointer, pocket hole jig and finally an orbital sander. There are other tools that will accomplish the same tasks as the ones I listed above, these are my preferred tools. Once I begin to build the box mantel and floating shelves, I have systems that I follow to ensure accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. Carpenters usually develop their own systems over time, though there are some universal best practices when building in the shop. For starters, always rip down all the stock of the same size, at the same time on the table saw. Same goes for cutting pieces to length on the miter saw, use a stop block and cut all your pieces of the same length at the same time. Once my material is cut to size, I lay out all of my biscuit slots and pocket screw holes using a tape measure, pencil and square. Again, I mark all the face biscuits, then the end biscuits, then the pocket screws… It’s very easy to get confused at this phase as there are a lot of marks that end up on the pieces of material, so find what works for you; different color pencils are one approach, I prefer to use X’s, O’s, B’s for biscuits, S’s for screws, etc. Like I said, whatever works. When everything is laid out and parts are organized accordingly, I assemble the shelves and mantel individually. In other words, I fully assemble one shelf and then move to the next. By the time the last one is assembled, the first one is usually ready to take the clamps off of and prep/sand. I follow similar processes during the finishing and install phases, always trying to group tasks together and order things in the way that best allows for the most efficiency.
Coming soon! Please visit again.