Fauxerplace In Walnut
Since our house doesn't have a fireplace at all, I decided to build a cabinet-with-a-mantle-on-top to fill in. But... I wasn't actually good enough when I conceived the project to give it the level of quality I wanted. Still not, really. But at least it's done now.
Finished product first, as is tradition.
Here's an early sketch of the project. The intended design was to make construction as simple as possible. Primarily butt joints, and strategically placed pieces of trim to hide any errors.
Somewhere along the way, I made lots of detail drawings. But I lost those. But not before translating the piece into SketchUp to see what it'd look like. Not bad!
This is my first woefully incomplete parts list. So incomplete. The only reason it hung around is the shaded full-size corner sketch on the right.
This has A TON of pieces. I made drawings mostly to scale of each piece to help me keep track of what was needed. This is the top of the mantle.
This is the vertical pillars, and the inset under the mantle top. I ended up changing that inset pretty dramatically.
Pieces for the main cabinet carcass at the bottom.
And pieces for the plinth.
This page here was a godsend! I drew a semi-exploded view of the cabinet to show me exactly how each piece would fit together. The final piece follows this almost exactly. Enough drawing, time to make sawdust!
The beginnings... This actually took place in November 2017. My wife was tired of waiting for a place to hang our stockings, so I figured I could take care of the topmost portion fairly quickly. This is the pine frame inside it. Looking back, I could have skipped the frame since the plywood was plenty strong on its own. Ah well.
Genius design! I screwed up the cut on this piece pretty badly. And it's right in front. But, after adding the trim, it won't be seen.
Here it was for a Christmas season straddling across two bookshelves.
I chose not to finish it at this time, so that I could finish the whole thing at once, and the project would match itself.
My wife decorates pretty good.
On to 2018! I decided to tackle the most difficult portion of the project in May, and was done by June. That's not bad! The carcass bottom is plywood, and the sides are screwed right in. For extra strength on the top, I added these pine supports. These are also my first real dovetails. But driving a chisel into plywood caused it to delaminate a bit. Couldn't really get them nice and clean. Corner A.
The center support is also ply, with edge banding for pretty.
The original design called for plywood doors with edge banding all around, and pieces of walnut glued on for visual interest. Somewhere along the way, I decided to go for real frame-and-panel doors, and I'm very glad I did. Here's two frames with half-haunched tenons.
The panels are flip-matched (if that's a word). Ripped down the center, and flipped end for end so that grain direction would run the same top and bottom. Really helped when it came time to clean them up.
Gluing up the doors.
And here they are in place!
The plinth is pretty similar to the very top. Pine frame with walnut pieces glued on. But these have real walnut instead of just ply.
A base frame around the bottom. Not pictured is the 1/2" trim at the very bottom.
Stuff happens here. The pillars are simple boxes without top or bottom, and with small cleats inside to help with alignment.
The lighting is a pack of stick-on LEDs from IKEA. Each pillar has two stuck onto the back panel. The back panels are only screwed in place, in case I need to repair them. This also made everything a little more difficult to move around, since the pillars had to stay close to each other now.
I cut pieces for the undermantle portion, but didn't like how much of an overbite the piece looked like it had. So re-cut the undermantle to sit in front of the pillars. MUCH BETTER. All the little teeth are just blocks held in place with a spot of glue.
Assembly is complete!
No money shot adding finish, but it's 3 coats of Arm-R-Seal.
And finished in time for Christmas 2018!