After running my usual Saturday morning errands, I drove to the local fine wood merchant and spent three hours going through their supply of red oak, picking out pieces for the mantle. I was resolved to creating my own book matched panels to be inset in the legs by having to saw slices out of a board on the band saw, but I found a most curiously grained piece that, with a little careful attention, will create an almost bookmarked pattern. The piece is almost nine feet long, and has almost the same grain patten on each end, with the mirroring point in the center of the length. I've never seen grain like that in oak before, I think the gods were looking after me today. I'll be sure to point it out when I post pictures of the final piece.
I finished the two coats of the second stain color on the shelf today, it's going to have to dry for twenty four hours before I can start applying the final finish, but it's going to look great. I have my cutting schedule figured out and my assembly schedule as well. Putting something like this together is like a puzzle. You need to have a definite plan to assemble the pieces together, or you can run into some bizarre troubles. That's experience speaking.
Tomorrow is trimming and ripping and planing and sanding, then, if I have the energy, I'll start assembly of the three major elements of the surround. I'm not using a field attached to the wall to build out from, which is usually a plywood base to which all the elements are attached in situ, I'm making the two legs and the center piece as separate units, which will be assembled together, along with the mantle shelf, then attached to stout furring strips that will be attached to the wall. This will allow me to fit the pieces accurately to the wall, as it is not the straightest and it has a slight bow from side to side, which means the outside of the legs need to be slightly deeper than the inside. None of this is making any sense to you, is it? Sorry. I get a bit passionate about this stuff. Suffice it to say that it will look just fine when it's complete and I'll be pretty proud of it and I can't wait for the "oohs" and "ahhs" on Thanksgiving.
Have a great night.
go ahead, make your day...